On October 1, a delegation from Protect Our Winters headed to Capitol Hill to bring attention to Climate Change issues. The group had a very successful day despite the just hours-old government shutdown. While the Hill was in a bit of chaos, POW’s group successfully kept on schedule and met with Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Jon Tester (D-Montana), Max Baucus (D-Montana), Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Henry Waxman (D-California).
After the day was over, POW President Chris Steinkamp told his group, “It’s a testament to the dedication you all have for the future of our sport, despite the challenges (with the shutdown). That’s what it’s going to take. It’s not easy running all over Capitol Hill like we did, but I can assure you that what we did was the most effective thing we could do to fight climate change.”
SIA President David Ingemie commented: “I thought the day was very productive and educational for both the POW group and the Senators we saw regarding the issue of climate change and the impact is has on our industry. Having the athletes and other key industry players there had a big impact on the Senators we saw, and they seemed to appreciate the time we took to visit them, especially in light of the shutdown situation.”
The group lobbied the Senate to take action on climate change and support the President’s Climate Action Plan, and included POW Director Chris Steinkamp, SIA President David Ingemie, Burton President Donna Carpenter, Patagonia Global Business Unit Director Tyler LaMotte, US Freeskier Meg Olenick, Olympic snowboarders Gretchen Bleiler and Callan Sifsof, mountaineer Conrad Anker and Aspen VP of Sustainability Auden Schendler.
Gretchen Bleiler and Callan Sifsof told House and Senate members the $650 billion winter sports industry needs to be protected from the effects of global warming. “We in the winter sports community are seeing the effects of climate change firsthand,” she said at a press briefing hosted by House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Henry Waxman.
Bleiler, who grew up in Aspen, Colo., said shorter, warmer winters meant fewer tourists visiting her hometown to take part in winter sports. “It’s trickling down into our mountain economies,” she said.
Bleiler later sent out many tweets thanking the Senators the delegation met with, including this one with a photo and shout-out to VT Senator Bernie Sanders: “Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders addresses the #protectourwinters delegation on Capitol Hill. He is a real climate champion and climate never shuts down.”