Environmental advocates in El Paso work to grow a green future

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Environmentalists in the Borderland are working to ensure the community is active and aware of the battle to combat the climate crisis. 

El Pasoans are encouraging people to join in their efforts at the local, state and federal levels through community engagement, education and more. 

“We have to contend with the fact that we have seen record flooding, like with Hurricane Harvey; we’ve seen record heat, including in El Paso, where we had elderly people going to cooling centers in the summer during a pandemic because temperatures were so hot; and we’re also seeing a record number of deep freezes in Texas,” says Veronica Carbajal, an attorney and community advocate in El Paso. 

Environmental advocates say last week’s devastating power and water outages across the state was a call to arms.

On Monday, members of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led movement to combat climate change and create jobs in the process, marched at the Texas Capitol to voice solutions.

Environmental issues have also driven El Paso’s representative in Washington D.C. to act.

“The climate crisis is at such an urgent level that we have to take action,” said U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar on the launch of her Climate Crisis Advisory Committee. 

Escobar invites El Pasoans to submit priorities, concerns and questions regarding the climate crisis in the Borderland in order to garner federal support through Congress. 

“Addressing the climate emergency is going to take all of us,” said Escobar. “Working together and pulling together as aggressively, urgently and collaboratively as possible.” 

In a statement sent to KTSM 9 News, the Sunrise Movement says its demanding the following:

  1. Direct and immediate relief to Texans
  2. 100-percent renewable energy system
  3. President Joe Biden to come to Texas and argue the case for a green economy 
  4. The resignation of Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. Ted Cruz

The Sunrise Movement is working with local Texas hubs to provide relief and mutual aid to those affected by last week’s winter weather while advocates work to circumvent future crises.

“What happens with climate change is that those issues become more unpredictable and more unseasonal,” said Carbajal. 

Carbajal said one way to affect climate change is to address the way many campaigns are financed.

For example, many candidates in Texas receive campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry that create a significant conflict of interest if and when constituents ask elected officials to explore climate-friendly energy alternatives. 

“Until we’re able to separate that, we are not going to get the kinds of rules and enforcement that we need to combat climate change,” said Carbajal. 

It’s a system of transition and transformation that must take place to get more Texans on board. 

The fossil fuel industry creates a substantial number of jobs across Texas that Carbajal says can be transitioned into roles using different forms of energy. Environmentalists are advocating for a weatherized, public and well-regulated power infrastructure that they say will lead to statewide resiliency and employment opportunities. 

“We need to be creating transitional jobs so people don’t feel compelled to work for a polluter,” she explained.

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