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Thank you, Dawn Buckingham, Texas Land Commissioner, for your opinion piece against the climate charter. I want to express my gratitude to the electric company and the oil and gas industry for how they contribute to my comfort, to the comfort of our city and to the livelihoods of its many employees.
I sympathize with your position against the climate charter. I, too, wish that climate chaos was not upon us and that there was no need to change. I wish that a warming atmosphere didn’t result in 18 weather events in 2022 across the nation that each cost over a billion dollars, while taking 450 lives.
I wish that increased temperatures weren’t adding to the severity of storms, like the 60 inches of rain in Houston’s Hurricane Harvey that killed 100 people and caused $125 billion worth of damage. I wish that 14 tornadoes didn’t hit northern Texas in December in one day and that the 2022 fire in our neighboring New Mexico didn’t cost $65 million, destroying 859,906 acres.
I wish we could just go on as “business as usual” and that oil and gas industry had no negative effects.
I wish this well-established business, which provides so many life-giving services, wasn’t exacting a terrible price on the lives of climate refugees and those who will live beyond you and me — our grandchildren.
I wish there was a simple way forward and no complexity. But there isn’t. That’s why I support the climate charter with its three goals of reducing El Paso’s contribution to climate change, investing in an environmentally sustainable future and advancing climate justice.
The half of signatories who were under 35 to get this on the ballot have a keen grasp of the calamity of “business as usual.” As a 73-year-old educator, I have respect for their efforts to work towards a cutting-edge, innovative and just green economy.
With the charter, we will be following in the footsteps of the flourishing cities of San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Austin. They all have climate plans that bring green jobs to their cities. El Paso has a brain drain with only .01% population growth, while those cities are growing.
The climate charter is a beginning. It sets goals and values the democratic process. I am in favor of the city creating solar power jobs and having buildings use rooftop solar whenever possible. After the initial investment is paid off in five years, the city will have access in perpetuity to clean energy. The $11 million dollars paid to El Paso Electric in 2022 would be available for other purposes. This was not mentioned in the outside consultant’s study.
The charter is a call to study opportunities, to move in the direction of a non-fossil fuel-based economy. I understand this is threatening to the fossil fuel industry, which knew in 1977 from Exxon’s study that CO2 emissions could elevate the temperature by 2-3 degrees and threaten life on the planet.
The El Paso Chamber doesn’t acknowledge the 170,000 jobs that will be created using the innovation of the green economy and help stop El Paso’s brain drain. Its study misrepresents the charter as a mandate instead of a call to weigh possibilities. There will be no requirements for individuals or small businesses to use solar.
Yes, Ms. Buckingham, fossil fuel is tried and true — and dirty and lethal. I wish it wasn’t so.
It is a daunting task to support Texas, our veterans and our children without destroying the earth, air and water in the process. The climate charter is a step in El Paso addressing the reality that the warmer planet is making bigger storms, higher seawater, more droughts, more wind, more migration, more fires, and more floods. This is a heavy lift and we need every sector to think outside the box and work together. That’s the invitation of the climate charter.
Laurie Marshall is a member of the Eco El Paso Board and the founder of Unity Through Creativity Foundation.