The recent defeat of New York Democratic Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortes’s “Green New Deal” in Congress may have given some the impression that her grandiose and bizarre scheme to transform the United States into a green Utopia was finished, once and for all.
Nothing could be further from the truth. While the scheme may have been sidelined at the national level, for now, it is cropping up under different names in cities across the land.
San Antonio, Texas is a case in point.
The home of the Alamo is considering adopting a Climate Action & Adaptation Plan (CAAP), which is the brainchild of SA Climate Ready, an organization dedicated to “building solutions to prepare our city for climate change.” SA Climate Ready is composed of ninety-one self-appointed climate stewards drawn from business and industry, environmental groups, public utilities, neighborhood associations, local colleges, chambers of commerce, transit authorities, and the military.
Leaving nothing to chance, SA Climate Ready has put together five technical working groups to micromanage key areas of the city’s operation, including transportation and land use, energy and buildings, water and natural resources, solid waste, and “climate equity.”
San Antonio is one of over 400 U.S. cities to support the Mayors’ Climate National Action Agenda, a commitment to uphold, at the municipal level, the goals of the Obama-era Paris Climate Accord. In June 2017, President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, and the mayors’ climate initiative was one of the panicked political establishment’s first reactions to the White House’s move.
SA Climate Ready has big plans for San Antonio. Under its CAAP, the city will be “carbon neutral” by 2050. Among other things, this means decarbonizing the grid; requiring businesses owning 50,000-plus square foot buildings to report their energy use to a regulatory body; and adopting a zero net energy code on new buildings by 2040. In a bit of sloppy writing (not to mention sloppy thinking), the plan calls for switching from natural gas to “electricity” to power existing buildings. As the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) notes, this presumably means switching from natural gas to renewable energy such as wind and solar.
It gets better. The San Antonio’s CAAP also calls for reducing water consumption, both on a total and per capita basis; investing in new “human-powered” infrastructure (rickshaws?); transitioning to “carbon-free” personal vehicles while reducing miles traveled; and embracing “carbon sequestration,” a process by which carbon dioxide is pulled from the atmosphere and transformed into a liquid or solid state.
A carbon sequestration project in Kemper, Mississippi was abandoned by energy giant Southern Company in 2017 after falling years behind schedule and going $3 billion over budget. But why learn from someone else’s mistake when you can create your own boondoggle right there in San Antonio?
In late March, Mayor Ron Nierenberg (D) delayed a vote on CAAP in the city council until the fall, a move he explained by saying “action and adaptation is too important not to get it right.”
Meanwhile, a new poll taken by the TPPF, which opposes the city’s climate plan, found that while 59% agreed that climate change is either a very serious or somewhat serious threat to their families and their community, residents were not thrilled by the specifics of the CAAP.
Asked whether they would support or oppose a proposal requiring them to give up their current vehicle and buy a new, carbon-free one, or switch to public transportation, biking, or walking – 66% of San Antonio voters said they oppose such a plan. Additionally, if the implementation of CAAP incurs higher energy costs, 55% said they would be either somewhat or very opposed to it. And asked how much they’d be willing to pay in energy costs to generate power from 100% non-carbon sources, 52% said “nothing.”
“The San Antonio CAAP proposal will reduce choices and increase costs for families and businesses, and it’s clear Texans recognize this and reject it,” said Brian Phillips, chief communications officer at TPPF. “The plan will have little or no effect on the environment, but will have a significant impact on the daily lives of residents. Taking away people’s cars and trucks and driving up energy costs won’t help San Antonians.”