Tied Up in Knots A yacht acquisition complicates Dan Snyder's green campaign

Dan Snyder’s gone green. No, not colorof-money green. Tree-hugger green.

At least, the Redskins owner has been talking up his ecological bona fides since the team put up solar panels in the FedExField parking lot.

In case you haven’t heard, more than 8,000 panels were installed at the team’s game-day home as part of a deal between the Redskins and Princeton, N.J.-based alternative energy outfit NRG. Billed as the “largest [solar panel] installation in the NFL,” the system will convert sunlight into electricity and supply power to the stadium that would otherwise have come via traditional, and less environmentally friendly, means.

As the panels were unveiled last month, Snyder said he was “excited to be part of this effort that will reduce our environmental impact.”

“It’s the right thing for all of us to do,” he told ESPN.

At the unveiling ceremony held at the stadium, NRG CEO David Crane said, looking at Snyder, “It’s very exciting to be first in solar power installation in the NFL…and first in the NFC East.”

Snyder’s record on environmental matters ain’t a good one. The only time he had made major environmental news to date, after all, involved tree-cutting, not tree-hugging: In 2004, he was razzed for razing trees on his property behind his Potomac mansion. In addition to getting a better view of the river, Snyder got a media scandal, since the trees sat on land near the C&O Canal that was supposed to be protected by the feds and by local laws.

But once the alliance with NRG was announced, the Redskins began insinuating that Snyder’s new attitude was trickling down to others in the organization: The team’s website trumpeted that special teams standout Lorenzo Alexander now comes to work in a Toyota Prius, a hybrid vehicle.

Yet Snyder’s favorable rating among the granola crowd could prove as temporary as his team’s recent stay atop its division. Reports came out just after the FedExField unveiling that Snyder was part of a group that acquired a mega-yacht, christened the Lady Anne, from a husband and wife who’d lost their shirts to Bernie Madoff.

The purchase price was estimated by the Washington Post to be $70 million.

With the 224-foot Lady Anne, which is often billed as being among the world’s 100 biggest yachts but is built to accommodate just 16 passengers, Snyder’s carbon footprint could become positively Sasquatchian.

According to the website superyachts.com, the Lady Anne has a top speed of 17.4 nautical miles per hour—or 2.6 knots faster than land barge Albert Haynesworth used to reach in the 40-yard-dash. Its fuel tanks can carry 55,212 gallons of diesel, giving it a maximum range of 5,500 nautical miles.

So the ship uses up a tad more than 10 gallons per mile, a fuel rating on a par with Rex Grossman’s QB rating.

According to the Post, the ship was seen most recently cruising along the French Riviera. That’s a fave yachting spot for Snyder: According to a 2006 Washingtonian magazine profile of the owner, Snyder’s plan to take over Six Flags was hatched on a yacht off Monaco.

Yet the Lady Anne is registered in the port of George Town in the Grand Cayman Islands, a Caribbean outpost also known to float Snyder’s boat. (Snyder docked M/Y Lady S, a mere 160-something-foot Oceanco yacht he bought in 1997 and later sold to benefactor Mort Zuckerman, in George Town.)

Well, Nice and George Town are a tad over 4,547 nautical miles apart. Factoring in the boat’s mileage rating, plus idling time and the required “Look-at-me!-Look-at-me!” jaunts from port to port along the Cote d’Azur, the Lady Anne would figure to burn about a tankful of diesel each way.

Snyder hasn’t revealed what his usage rights are among the ownership group. But say he took the boat on just two of these trips per year. Using carbon footprint calculators supplied by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—which figures an average gallon of diesel fuel burned throws 22.2 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere—the Lady Anne would emit about 4,976,276 pounds of CO2 even on that Spartan schedule.

Speaking of conspicuous consumption: As of Sunday a gallon of diesel was selling for $7.04 per gallon at the Barcadere Marina in George Town, meaning one fill-up of the boat would cost a whopping $388,685.44. Meanwhile, Alexander could fill up his Prius with regular unleaded at the Ashburn Village Sunoco for just $36.67.

And on those occasions when Snyder chose to board his $70 million trinket, he would almost certainly utilize his private jet, the Bombardier Global 5000, to get to it.

According to the flight calculator at happyzebra.com, it’d be a little less than a nine-hour voyage by plane from D.C. to Nice. The Bombardier’s spec sheet says it burns 454.29 gallons of jet fuel per hour. That adds up to about 8,200 gallons of jet fuel per round trip.

Say he makes that flight twice a year, too, and keeps the Bombardier in the hangar the rest of the time. Using EPA’s average rating of 23.88 pounds of CO2 emissions for every gallon of jet fuel, and Snyder’s throwing another 391,632 pounds of carbon into the atmosphere.

So between the Lady Anne and the Bombardier, this wholly hypothetical pair of semi-annual yachting excursions would account for some 5,367,908 pounds of Snyder-related CO2 emissions.

According to the Redskins stats at the unveiling of the solar panels, the NRG installation at FedEx Field will save just 3,924,228 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere.

So much for the environmental offset.

(Making matters worse: As we know from Mike Wise’s recent report on Snyder’s initial courtship of Mike Shanahan, there’s no chance that plane will actually sit in a hangar unused; at a time of night when other partiers might cap things off with a Fourth Meal from Taco Bell, Snyder’s liable to fire up the Bombardier to take employees on a cross-country joy ride.)

Redskins spokesperson Tony Wyllie declined to respond to questions about how the acquisition colors the boss’ neo-greenness.

“Short of taking a personal rocketship, the private jet is the most unecological way to travel,” says Chuck Collins, senior scholar at the Institute of Policy Studies and expert on the impact of methods of non-mass transit favored by the “super-rich,” who he calls “the biggest destructive force on the environment.” In 2008, Collins co-authored “High Flyers: How Private Jet Travel Is Straining the System, Warming the Planet, and Costing You Money,” a paper mulling the environmental and economic repercussions of personal planes. That report held that an hour of flying in the average private jet “burns as much fuel as an entire year of driving.”

Throw in a 10-gallons-per-mile boat that can only hold 16 passengers, and the way Collins sees things, there’s almost no way to make total amends for your pollution contribution.

As for adding solar panels, Collins says, “If a guy wants to do carbon offsets to atone for his excesses, that’s great. But to make up for a plane and [a mega-yacht], well, you’d really have to reforest all of Ireland.”

Read Cheap Seats Daily every weekday at washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk.

Our Readers Say

Actually, if Mr. Snyder wanted to be environmentally friendly he would install flushless urinals in the restrooms at Fed Ex field.
This kind of nitpicky accounting of individual contributions to environmental degradation is not really useful or productive. As a wealthy individual, Snyder is almost certainly going to have a huge carbon footprint, starting with his enormous home(s). But we all do our part to fuck up the planet, including driving to Redskins games, eating meat and doing laundry. I don't think Snyder is any more of a hypocrite than the rest of us. Better to focus on his more egregious crimes against humanity, not so much the yacht.
"Snyder’s carbon footprint could become positively Sasquatchian." = priceless.

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