Environmental Groups Say San Antonio's Climate Plan Doesn't Go Far Enough to Reign in Big Polluters


Activists rally outside council chambers following the vote on the limate Action & Adaption Plan. - RHYMA CASTILLO
  • Rhyma Castillo
  • Activists rally outside council chambers following the vote on the limate Action & Adaption Plan.
After city council passed San Antonio's long-awaited Climate Action & Adaptation Plan on Thursday, environmental groups said the measure, while welcome, could do more to force meaningful action on climate change.

"The plan lacks key language on needed emissions-reduction strategies," said  Kaiba White, an energy policy specialist for Public Citizen after council's 10-1 vote. "In many ways, this plan by itself, is not the action that is needed. That's especially true when it comes to CPS Energy."

CPS, the city-owned utility, along with business groups, forced significant revisions to the CAAP during its review process, environmental groups point out. As a result, the plan has no clear deadlines for shifting away from coal and natural gas, which still power much of San Antonio's electrical generation.

Critics say the re-drafted version lets large-scale polluters avoid accountability. While CPS Energy behaves like a private entity, city officials have a responsibility to regulate it with the community's environmental needs in mind, according to environmental advocates.

"What we need is a concrete plan from city council to close the last coal plants in San Antonio and transition into renewable energy," said Alex Birnel, an advocacy manager for voter mobilization group MOVE Texas.

"I'm glad to see that young people are being a lot more aggressive when it comes to environmental sustainability," he added. "It needs to be seen with urgency, because we're at the precipice of something severe if action isn't taken. So, when it comes to the corporate interests that want to defend that coal plant, they should be ready for a fight."

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