Citizens’ Climate Lobby asks BCTDA for legislative support

TEAM GREEN: Jim Tolbert and Steffi Rausch of the Citizens' Climate Lobby address TDA members regarding the impact of climate change on Buncombe County's tourism industry. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Jim Tolbert, outreach director for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a grassroots nonprofit that supports climate change legislation, addressed board members of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority regarding the effects of climate change on the tourism industry during the public comment portion of the organization’s Jan. 30 meeting.

Piggybacking off comments about extensive recent flooding damage to the city’s John B. Lewis Soccer complex by Demp Bradford, executive director of the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission, Tolbert explained how climate-related weather events could affect the future of tourism in Asheville.

“You’ve already talked about it with flooding; we’ve just seen rather minor flooding, if you look at the fact that North Carolina downstate has seen two 1,000-year storms since I last spoke to you,” Tolbert told the TDA members. “You can see the potential impact if any of those storms would have taken a little different track.”

Tolbert then pointed to other weather events that have caused damage to areas surrounding Asheville and their lasting effects on tourism.

“You can also look at the economic impact in Sevier County over in Tennessee, in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, after a severely dry season when the fires came over there,” Tolbert said. “We had some smoke over here. That might have scared some people away, but there they had a much harder time bringing people back after people heard what the fires had done.”

Tolbert encouraged TDA members to support the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (, a bill that aims to reduce carbon emissions through a tax on fossil fuel companies.

The legislation, which he said “has Republican and Democratic cosponsors in the [U.S.] House,” would return the proceeds from this tax to U.S. households as a monthly energy dividend. He said the bill therefore provides a way to reduce carbon emissions without transferring costs to taxpayers.

“It keeps money in the economy. It keeps the economy healthy, which I think is critical to keep driving people on vacations. People will continue to have vacations. I think of it as, in terms of supporting tourism here, a very sound policy to maintain the whole economy,” Tolbert explained.

Speaking with Xpress after the meeting, Tolbert said his bid to the TDA is a part of a multipronged approach by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. The group plans to address all parts of local government to bring awareness and garner support for the bill and other climate change-related legislation.

“It’s relevant for the [BCTDA] to be talking about climate change,” Tolbert said. “It is their directive to increase overnight stays in Asheville, and to me part of that includes how we are looking at climate mitigation policy that actually will assure that we don’t hurt overnight stays.”

Reached after the meeting, Stephanie Brown, president and CEO of Explore Asheville, did not indicate that the BCTDA would give its direct support for the climate bill at this time. However, she acknowledged the efforts of Tolbert and the Citizens’ Climate Lobby in creating discussion around the issue.

“I appreciate the thoughtfulness of Jim and [Steffi Rausch] to highlight some of the impacts of climate change on tourism and the time they took to share those insights with the BCTDA,” Brown said.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

4 thoughts on “Citizens’ Climate Lobby asks BCTDA for legislative support

  1. Mike R.

    Asheville’s tourism economy will be served up “dead on arrival” in the years to come. How long do we have to pretend? I’m guessing one decade. Could be two. Climate change is real and accelerating off of past conservative predictions. The impact to our already sorry economy will grow and most frills (like travel) will take a hit. Many of the hotels will foreclose and end up being low income housing; just like many apartments across the country. Nobody in leadership wants to make the hard changes. Every man/woman for themselves, I say.

    Meanwhile, it’s business as usual.

  2. luther blissett

    The takeaway from this is that BCTDA has a budget of $17m ($10m of which is spent on advertising) and occupancy tax revenues are equivalent to the combined total revenues of Black Mountain and Weaverville. It’s a de facto undemocratically-elected government.

  3. C-Law

    Good luck BCTDA following their advice…

    Let’s cut the crap folks: A “Green New Deal” would, if implemented:
    •Put every coal miner out of work.

    •Put almost every existing car assembler out of work.

    •Put every oil company employee — including all the roughnecks — out of work.

    •Ground every aircraft, and put every Boeing employee out of work.

    •Put every air traffic controller out of work.

    •Put every gas station owner and employee, along with all the convenience stores associated with them, out of work.

    •Make personal travel between points more than 200-odd miles distant require 2-3x as much time to accomplish due to the impossibility of doing so without extended periods at charging stations. This will essentially end the freedom to personally travel beyond 200 miles of one’s permanent residence in the United States.

    •Make personal round-trip travel of more than 100-odd miles from home physically impossible without 2+ hour layovers in the middle for the same reason. For example, it would be physically impossible for me to drive from my home to Pensacola and back without risking being stranded, unless there was a charging station in Pensacola and I was willing and able to remain there for 2+ hours while I recharged my car.

    •Shut down all of the nuclear infrastructure in the United States (some 100+ power reactors) without any way to contain their current fuel and safely consume what remains of it. Oh, and put all the people who work there (nearly all of whom have good-paying jobs) out of work.

    •Triple the cost of electrical power in the United States. For industrial users this would be ruinously expensive and destroy what manufacturing remains in this country, putting all of those employees out of work.

    •Make nighttime power intermittent in accessibility, rendering the now-common practice of running a third shift for industrial purposes (when demand charges are lower) impossible due to lack of solar energy across America during that time. Forced curtailment (read: blackouts) are unavoidable under such a generation mandate since there is insufficient 100% available base load power that can be generated by renewable sources in the United States.

    •The rise in power cost would likely double the cost of “cloud computing” in the United States; power is the primary expense of running large data centers. They will all move offshore and fire everyone who works there, putting them all out of work.

    •Your electric bill will double and, if you use natural gas for heat today, that will disappear. In areas too cold for economic use of a heat pump (anything north of the middle of the nation, basically) your winter heating costs will skyrocket by 300-500% as the only “legal” alternative will be electrical resistance heat. Montana and the Dakotas, along with the northern part of Minnesota and the UP of Michigan will become economically uninhabitable.

    At the same time this “Green New Deal” promises to provide “economic and health care security” to everyone irrespective of whether they are able or willing to work, irrespective of whether they are CITIZENS or not (yes, the OFFICIAL RESOLUTION includes illegal invaders as it says PERSONS, not CITIZENS) and irrespective of whether they intentionally poison themselves. “Free” and unlimited medical care for every 300+lb fattie who gorges on donuts and drinks themselves half to death (as we do now) can’t be paid for today; we spend $400 billion of federal and state money on avoidable expense right here and now every year as a result of coddling adults who refuse to stop eating fast carbs rather than “offend” them by telling them to cut that crap out or get nothing. That spending is already exponentially increasing and if not stopped now will bankrupt the nation within the next six years.

    If you think this “deal” would be some “economic renaissance” you’re out of your mind. The economic impact of such a “Green New Deal” would be the annihilation of our economy. No other nation will go along with anything approaching this sort of suicide pact; we will be left alone while all the other nations of the world, especially China, feast on what used to be our economic strengths.

    Couple this with what we now know is the state of our military given the investigation into the Fitzgerald collision and it would simply be a matter of time before one of those nations (cough-China-cough-cough!) blew us to bits. Xi is laughing his ass off right now over in Beijing at the rank stupidity of the American public and political class which has bought into that which cannot occur without catastrophic outcomes as for the promised “good” outcomes to occur you must be able to violate the laws of physics.

    I have no love or respect for Trump and really figured he had no chance of a 2nd term at this point…however.

    I’ve changed my mind — there’s not a single Democrat who has serious intent of running in 2020 yet has not signed onto this bullcrap and the Republicans and Trump are going to take all of the above points and make said Democrats have their tonsils tickled from the south end with each and every one of the above points — and more. The Democrats yet again overreach with ridiculous policy proposals that will only impoverish the average working American, all based on fake science with doctored data in a world where China and India will do nothing to address the actual pollution and economic destruction going on in their countries…but sure, when they lose the Presidency again in 2020 they can blame it all on the Russians, not their own idiotic policies.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.