The proposed amendments to the El Paso City Charter will be listed on the ballot individually, and voters will have the option to vote “Yes” or “No” on each one. Proposition K, known as the Climate Charter, was placed on the May 6 ballot through a citizen-led petition initiative to include climate policy on the City Charter.
Click here for information on Propositions A-J, which the El Paso City Council approved for placement on the ballot.
Here’s how Proposition K will read on the ballot, followed by an El Paso Matters synopsis of the proposed amendment.
Here’s how Proposition K will read on the ballot
Should the City Charter be amended, as proposed by a petition, to add Article IX to create a climate policy requiring the City to use all available resources and authority to accomplish three goals: to reduce the City’s contribution to climate change, invest in an environmentally sustainable future, and advance the cause of climate justice; to require the City Council to employ a Climate Director, who shall be appointed and removed by City Council and report directly to City Council;
to require the creation of a Climate Department to be directly overseen by the Climate Director; to require the creation of a nine member climate commission appointed by City Council, with recommending and investigative powers, for the purposes of overseeing the implementation and fulfillment of a City climate policy, with removal of individual members only for incompetence or nonfeasance, misfeasance or malfeasance in office;
to require the creation of an annual goal for climate jobs and the adoption and implementation of a policy that will transfer current City employees to climate work and provide a preference for contractors who are able to advance the City’s climate policy;
to require the creation of an annual Solar Power Generation Plan for the City of El Paso and to require the City Manager to establish and maintain policies that encourage the development of rooftop solar power generation capacity within the City of El Paso using existing City facilities and require both new buildings and retrofitted buildings to include solar power generation capacity;
to require the employment of all available methods so that all energy used within the City is generated by clean renewable energy, with the goals of requiring (1) 80% clean renewable energy by 2030 and (2) 100% clean renewable energy by 2045;
to require the City of El Paso to employ all available efforts to convert El Paso Electric to municipal ownership;
to require the City of El Paso to undertake all necessary efforts to prepare City infrastructure to withstand extreme weather conditions and ensure uninterrupted provision of basic services and utilities to City residents;
to require the City of El Paso to ban the use of City water for fossil fuel industry activities, defined to include El Paso Electric, outside of the city limits and prohibit the City of El Paso from selling or transferring any water for purposes of fossil fuel industry activities outside of the city limits, or otherwise allow any City water to be used for such purposes;
to prohibit the City of El Paso from imposing any fees, fines, or other financial or nonfinancial burdens that limit the purchase, use, or generation of renewable energy and nullifying any such fees, fines, or other burdens in existence at the time the charter amendment takes effect.
El Paso Matters synopsis
Proposition K, also known as the Climate Charter, asks voters whether to approve a collection of policies intended to address climate change in the borderland.
The proposition would have the city of El Paso establish a city climate department with a director and staffers who would be tasked with tracking local emissions released into the air and producing an annual report to the city. The climate department director would also add a climate impact statement to City Council meeting agenda items, such as zoning decisions or votes on whether to approve new roads, subdivisions or other infrastructure, for example. The climate impact statement would assess the effect of a particular agenda item on the city’s climate policy.
Prop K would also have the climate department director and city manager create a goal within the annual city budget to establish a certain number of climate-related jobs, including targets for each city department. Part of the job creation provision would have the city direct new funding – such as a government grant, tax increase or some other source of funding – to create climate jobs or related job training programs so long as the city has the resources and the need for those jobs. The annual goal for climate jobs would also include the city manager shifting current city employees from their current roles into equal or higher-paying jobs that advance the city’s climate policy. And when the city is hiring contractors, it would give preference to contractors that are aligned with the city’s climate policy.
Another portion of the Climate Charter would have the climate department director and city manager create a solar power generation plan that would have the city establish solar panels on the rooftops of city-owned buildings, as well as have new buildings and retrofitted buildings include solar panels whenever feasible.
The Climate Charter also seeks to remove fees associated with generating renewable energy, like solar power. El Paso Electric currently charges household customers with rooftop solar systems a $30 minimum monthly bill.
And under the Climate Charter, the city would use all available methods to ensure that 80% of the electricity that powers El Paso homes and businesses is generated by renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030. By 2045, the city would have to be powered by 100% renewable electricity. El Paso Electric has a similar timeline to generate entirely carbon-free electricity.
Proposition K includes a provision that would require the city to study what it would take to convert El Paso Electric from an investor-owned utility into a city-owned-and-operated entity, similar to the electric utilities in Austin and San Antonio.
Passage of Prop K would mandate the city to hire a consultant who would conduct a detailed feasibility study, which would examine what legal, regulatory or other barriers might stand in the way of bringing the utility under city-ownership, but the city would not be required to purchase EPE assets.
The Climate Charter also calls on the city to, during extreme weather events, ensure uninterrupted delivery of utility services to households and protect residents.
Passage of Proposition K would also prevent city-owned El Paso Water from selling water to fossil fuel industry operations located outside the city limits, a provision designed in part to conserve the city’s water by halting water sales to two El Paso Electric natural gas-fired power plants outside the city.
The final major provision in the Climate Charter would have the city establish a climate commission made up of nine unpaid volunteers appointed by City Council. The commission would oversee the climate department’s work and ensure the city is properly implementing the climate policies. A severability clause at the end states that if a court finds any individual policy in the Climate Charter is against the law, that policy will be struck and the rest of the Climate Charter will remain in effect.
Disclosure: El Paso Electric Co. is financial supporter of El Paso Matters. Financial supporters play no role in El Paso Matters’ journalism.