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By Seth Stokes
El Paso elected officials’ responses at the recent Texas Tribune event hosted at the University of Texas at El Paso were performative at best. Their statements lacked true substance. The common phrase used throughout the dialogue was “we need…” and none dared to further the conversation by claims such as “I am” or “I have” or “I support.”
In fact, one of the only times our elected officials went on record to support an initiative was for the expansion of Interstate 10.
These policymakers spoke of much-needed investment in El Paso’s “crumbling infrastructure,” but not once did they refer to the lack of investment in their district for people-centric infrastructure, including mass transit, biking, and pedestrian infrastructure.
State Sen. César Blanco, D-El Paso, mentioned how the I-10 expansion will relieve congestion and prevent idling cross-border trucks from polluting our air. Historical data suggests that adding lanes will only add more congestion and pollution over time, not less.
If Sen. Blanco would like to tackle air pollution, I would point his gaze to the Marathon oil refinery’s methane flaring and illegal air pollution dumping within the city limits, in addition to the lack of infrastructure and adoption of electric vehicles, leaving El Pasoans no choice but to breathe chronically polluted air.
The bottom line is that the citizens of El Paso need their elected officials to take action for clean air and clean power. As a voter of these elected officials’ districts, I need to see Sen. Blanco, Rep. Joe Moody and Rep. Claudia Ordaz Perez, all Democrats, go on record and support distributed energy resources by introducing, sponsoring, and building consensus to pass bills that accelerate rooftop solar installations, EV infrastructure and adoption, and an advanced energy workforce development program to spur job growth and economic development in El Paso.
El Paso residents have a right to decide how their energy is produced. We should not leave it up to Wall Street-controlled El Paso Electric. El Paso deserves better.
Seth Stokes is a Downtown El Paso resident and clean energy and good governance advocate.