Election ’22, Pitkin BOCC candidates: Kelly McNicholas Kury, Day 5

Kelly McNicholas Kury
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This week The Aspen Times is publishing a series of questions and answers from the two candidates vying for the District 2 seat on the Pitkin Board of County Commissionersincumbent Kelly McNicholas Kury and challenger Erin Smiddy. The District 1 seat for the BOCC is also on the ballot with incumbent Commissioner Patti Clapper running opposed. Election Day is Nov. 8, and ballots were mailed out last week.

Today’s question: What industry in Pitkin County do you think is the greatest contributor to climate change, and what can the county do to reel in that industry?

Kelly McNicholas Kury: If Pitkin County wants to be serious about our commitment to reducing climate emissions by 90% by 2050, then we have to reform our residential land use and building codes. I am ready to tackle reforms and was ready to take action two years ago when recommendations initially came to the BOCC. We know that unincorporated Pitkin County produces 37% of our climate emissions. The city of Aspen produces another 36%, transportation produces 17%, and the landfill and other municipalities produce the remainder. I am proud of the work that we did during my first term to adopt a very strong building energy code that incentivizes onsite electricity production and net-zero residential design. I think the next step is to prohibit any new natural gas installation or expansion. To support the electrification of our energy supply, we need to work with our partners in CORE, CLEER, and Holy Cross to develop contracts with the landowners they have identified as willing to install community serving solar onto the grid. I was very proud to approve the solar farm at Brush Creek that produces enough energy to serve 1,000 homes and we need to do more. 

I am hopeful the Community Growth Advisory Committee will provide strong recommendations to the BOCC on how to improve our land use code so the way we build homes reaches our climate change goals, and am willing to make them stronger if necessary. We know that houses over 7,000 square feet exponentially produce climate emissions. The time to approve huge houses is over and does not serve the community or create a healthy climate for our children. Simply designing a large home to have net-zero energy consumption is not enough. That large house still uses more materials and generates more employees to drive to and service it, all of which have climate impacts. I additionally don’t think we should have a blanket approval process for demolitions. Older homes and obviously homes with life safety issues are appropriate for demolitions. Scrape-and-replace projects for aesthetic reasons destroy useful embedded carbon and are filling up our landfill. 

On the lesser sectors that contribute to climate emissions in Pitkin County, I believe we should invest in the acceleration of electrifying our transportation system by developing a comprehensive public/private EV charging network throughout the county, with our own county fleet, and with rental car providers at the airport. We also need to support RFTA’s electric bus conversion and tackle the traffic problems to move people more efficiently. Finally, I want to pursue a carbon fee at the airport and transform ASE into the safest, cleanest, quietest and most carbon-free airport in the world. 

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