We Need Energy Justice to Lead Our COVID Recovery!
The impact of COVID-19 has laid bare San Antonio's glaring income and health disparities between white residents and people of color. A raft of factors are behind these grim inequities: exposure to air pollution from fossil-fueled car and truck traffic; lack of access to greenspace and healthy food; redlining and racist development patterns and policing; rising temperatures driven by the engines of climate change and dirty power plants; and zoning that permits industrial operations near schools and neighborhoods.
Open Letter "On Energy Justice and a San Antonio COVID-19 Recovery"
In spite of these facts, City Council has yet to raise the damages being done by the largest polluter in the city—City-owned CPS Energy—that disproportionately impact people of color in the form of asthma attacks, heart attacks, early mortality, and rising temperatures. Neither have we we seen any creative dialogue around the possibility of making the source of that burden—which also happens to be the largest contributor to the City's General Fund—an engine for an integrated, justice-based recovery.
We know that energy reform represents a tremendous and overlooked opportunity for health, employment, and housing security—most critically among our low-income residents and communities of color.
Therefore, we call our our leaders to make the following commitments:
- End the Policy of Utility Disconnections for Most Vulnerable Families
- Elevate FlexSTEP as an Essential Element of a Just COVID-19 Recovery
- No Rate Increases Until Our Utility Rate Structure is Fair
- Develop Community-Driven Resource Planning
- Shut Down the Spruce Coal Plant by 2030
We urge our elected leaders to review the proposals in the Open Letter "On Energy Justice and a San Antonio COVID-19 Recovery" and prioritize a Justice-based recovery making full use of the power and opportunity of owning our own utility. Many of these actions our leaders can take in spite of the position of the CPS Board of Trustees, some require partnership. But the agenda in this time of great urgency can and must be led by those we have elected to represent our interests.