By Sito Negron
As you have seen on TV, heard in the radio, and received mailers about, we have an election Saturday. The most prominent issue is Proposition K, which aims to make El Paso a true leader in putting climate at the forefront of municipal planning.
Unfortunately, the mailers and ads saying that 170,000 jobs will be lost or that we won’t have police or fire protection if Prop K passes show a reckless disregard for reasoned discussion.
The bottom line is that Prop K threatens to give us options. But for two components, it simply requires the city government to do what it should be doing, which is highlight opportunities to preserve water, keep the air clean, and economically implement programs that support our ability – and most importantly, that of future generations – to continue living comfortably in our high desert river valley.
The two components that are more prescriptive are:
- Requiring the city government to dig deep to understand all its options for purchasing the electric company. The city cannot force El Paso Electric to sell, and corporate ownership has already made clear it does not have a long-term commitment to El Paso. So this seems like a common-sense approach to preparing for the utility’s future.
- Forbidding the sale of water to fossil fuel industry outside the city limits. This will likely be challenged immediately, and it’s fair to debate the efficacy of this provision. The definition of fossil fuel industry is important here.
Regardless, Prop K has what’s called severability, so if one provision cannot be implemented the rest still stand. And while the directives to generate options will be in the City Charter, City Council must implement programs and policy in its detail, which means that it will be only as strong and effective as the representation we elect in the future.
El Paso voters have an opportunity to make a bold statement. We understand the science and the urgency. We can be the most advanced city in the state. We don’t have to wait for other cities to figure it out and then follow them. We can and should lead in solar development, in water conservation, in green engineering and architecture.
Some of those good things are happening in El Paso, and for that, Prop K formalizes the city government’s commitment not only to economic development but to our quality of life and our climate and science leadership. Prop K is both commonsensical and bold. For some people, especially those used to making the decisions, this is threatening. So they are trying to drown it in hyperbole.
Opponents of Prop K aren’t spending this much money to save you money. They’re fighting to preserve their bottom line because they don’t want the city actively seeking out alternatives and competition. They don’t want to see real options on the table, or allow the public to successfully set the city’s agenda.
No public policy, especially bold public policy, is perfect. El Paso voters have a chance to make a statement that we are meeting the future on our own terms.
Our challenge isn’t Prop K. It’s what happens after it passes – to work together to perfect a policy that puts El Paso at the forefront of the future.
Sito Negron is a resident of Sunset Heights.
Disclosure: El Paso Electric Co. is a financial supporter of El Paso Matters. Financial supporters play no role in El Paso Matters’ journalism.