April 22, 2020 Press Release:
On the heels of the City of Dallas staff releasing the latest draft of its Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Action Plan (CECAP), a growing coalition of advocates released a “People’s Climate Action Plan,” putting forward a different vision for making Dallas a leader in addressing climate change. The coalition is calling for an online day of advocacy targeting the Mayor and City Council.
The coalition is comprised of broad interests, including local environmental, democratic socialist, advocacy, and labor groups. These groups say their plan better addresses issues like environmental justice, supporting working families, and resiliency in the food supply chain.
The coalition says its plan is important especially in light of the current pandemic crisis which has highlighted the need for stronger social support systems and public resources.
“Some lessons this pandemic teaches us about climate change are that we have the ability to make drastic changes very quickly,” said Molly Beyer with the Democratic Socialists of America North Texas Chapter, “The sooner we mobilize for action, the less suffering will take place. All of us are vulnerable to crisis, and we are only as strong as the most vulnerable among us.”
The Dallas People’s Climate Action Plan is accessible for review through a website. Meanwhile, the CECAP is expected to go to a city-council vote on May 27 and pass with strong support from the council. It is unclear how or whether public testimony will be allowed when the plan comes up for a vote.
Coalition members argue the CECAP does too little up front, focusing on incentive and education programs for the next few years, that will do little to actually mitigate climate change.
“These are the most critical years to address climate change and we need strong action starting now.” said Hope Endrenyi with the Dallas Sunrise Movement. “Our plan presents ideas which would help us reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions. We hope the city will incorporate those ideas to reach this objective by 2050, a goal of theirs when they began developing the CECAP.
“We need public investment in clean electric energy and to stop investing in dangerous and outdated fossil energy like the Atmos Energy gas system,” said Corey Troiani, local program director with Texas Campaign for the Environment.
“Many cities are taking the lead on making all new buildings fully electric, which is now cost effective and safer. Fracked gas isn’t safe for our air or water — it puts oilfield workers at risk and subjects them to boom and bust economic cycles. On top of economic volatility, gas pipelines in our communities increase exposure to harmful air pollution and risk of explosions and fires. There was a gas fire in Grand Prairie just last weekend, and a spate of explosions in the last few years that caused multiple injuries and death.”
Atmos Energy, the monopoly operator of the city’s gas distribution system, has come under fire recently, after it was revealed that the company has largely neglected its pipeline infrastructure. The company is now seeking to hike the price of natural gas by 9.4% on Dallas ratepayers. Atmos claims this will cover costs of increased maintenance and repairs. Critics, including Dallas Councilmember Lee Kleinman, say Atmos continues to pay high dividends instead of prioritizing safety of our city.
Supporters of the “People’s Plan” also emphasize the need to focus on helping working families and households transition to a cleaner economy. Labor advocates emphasized their support for actions that establish job recertification and retraining programs for fossil fuel and carbon-intensive jobs, in addition to support for the plan’s calls for collective bargaining and a living wage for public transportation, public sector food, agricultural, and sanitation workers.
GROW North Texas, a local nonprofit focused on regional agriculture, also supports the People’s Plan, saying, “The People’s Plan looks broadly at the structures and larger issues of food production, distribution, and justice that can positively impact ALL Dallas residents as we face the need for adaptation.”
Supporters of the People’s Climate Plan include Dallas Green Alliance, Democratic Socialists of America North Texas, Grow North Texas, North Texas Transit Riders, Poor People’s Campaign, Sunrise Movement Dallas, Texas Campaign for the Environment, Texas Drought Project, Texas New Era/Jobs with Justice, Veterans for Peace, and Young Active Labor Leaders.