The Pitkin County commissioners opted Tuesday to take no action regarding the controversy over the Aspen Chamber Resort Association (ACRA) membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Commissioner George Newman had suggested last month that the board adopt a resolution calling on ACRA to drop its membership, due to the national chamber’s stance against climate change legislation. A majority of the board didn’t support that option.
The commissioners couldn’t come to a consensus Tuesday on sending a letter of opposition to ACRA or taking some less formal action.
Commissioner Rob Ittner had been absent from a previous discussion, when other board members agreed they wanted the local chamber to quit but did not agree on any specific tactic to use as elected officials.
Ittner changed the shape of the discussion Tuesday, by voicing support for the U.S. Chamber and what he characterized as its “balanced approach” to supporting business interests while recognizing climate change.
“Their position on climate change is a balanced approach,” Ittner said. “They fight for the protection of jobs and the protection of the economy in their balanced approach.”
He said that a previously drafted county resolution mischaracterized the U.S. Chamber’s position on climate change, and said the national business organization can’t be blamed for a lack of congressional action on greenhouse gas emissions through “cap and trade” laws.
“Cap and trade died because Democratic senators wouldn’t vote for it,” Ittner said.
The local chamber’s board of directors is expected to make a final decision on its membership in the U.S. Chamber at a retreat later this month.
Newman lamented Ittner’s blame on Democrats for a lack of congressional action on the issue.
“This is the first time I’ve heard arguments that are really partisan and I think that’s unfortunate,” Newman said.
ACRA has publicly disagreed with the national organization since 2009, when the U.S. Chamber began aggressively lobbying against congressional climate change legislation and running advertisements opposing it.
The Aspen Skiing Co. has vocally and aggressively pushed for the local chamber to drop its membership.