WILMINGTON - New York's state-owned ski resorts, such as Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in this mountain town, will use 100-percent renewable energy by 2030, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.
Along with Whiteface, other ski resorts operated by the state Olympic Regional Development Authority - Belleayre Ski Resort in the Catskills and Gore Mountain in North Creek - have pledged to be part of the Climate Reality Project's "I Am Pro Snow" campaign.
The governor's office is touting that this initiative is part of Cuomo's Clean Energy Standard, which intends, by 2030, to have half of electricity used in the state to come from renewable sources.
Members of the Adirondack Youth Climate Project hold “I Am Pro Snow, 100% Committed” signs at Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington. (Photo provided by The Wild Center)
"With this commitment, (the ski resorts) are joining New York's nation-leading efforts to fight climate change, reduce our carbon footprint and foster the development of renewable resources," Cuomo said in a press release Friday. "This commitment to New York's future, along with landmark new state investments in these facilities, will help ensure these resorts' continued vitality for generations to come."
Cuomo's currently proposed 2018 state budget allocates for $20 million to upgrade facilities at Whiteface and Gore Mountains, as well as an additional $8 million for upgrades at Belleayre this year.
"As leaders in the ski industry, it is our responsibility to be stewards of the environment," said Mike Pratt, ORDA's interim president and CEO.
The Climate Reality Project was founded by former Vice President Al Gore and involves more than 5 million people through grassroots networks trained by Climate Reality Leader activists across the globe.
Stanzi McGlynn, digital content fellow for The Wild Center nature museum in Tupper Lake, said local students from the center's Adirondack Youth Climate Program were thrilled to hear the news Friday.
"They've been working to make this happen for over two years now," McGlynn said, "holding numerous I Am Pro Snow events at ORDA venues, the most recent of which took place last week on President's Day at Whiteface."
The Adirondack Youth Climate Program is currently in Denver attending a Climate Reality Project event. Jen Kretser, The Wild Center's director of programs who founded the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit, met Gore there Thursday night.
"As I shook his hand, I told him about how over the last two years, our Adirondack Youth Climate leaders have been spreading the word about the I Am Pro Snow 100-percent Committed initiative," Kretser said. "He said, 'Keep up the good work! We need more youth engaged.'
"Many of these students are involved in winter sports and love the winter culture of the Adirondacks," she continued. "The fact that our winters are changing because of climate change in their lifetimes fuels their energy and urgency to do something. Many community members have told me how emotionally moved they are to see these students civically engaged around an issue they are so passionate about. I have seen their passion inspire others, often older generations."