Where is El Paso on energy sustainability?


EL PASO — As the world heats up and the threat of rising sea levels becomes more pressing, unconcerned humans continue to pump dangerous levels of greenhouse gasses into our fragile atmosphere, putting 7.3 billion people at risk of extinction. But some El Paso officials are determined to reduce carbon emissions here and improve the quality of life for all who live in the Sun City. The Office of Resilience and Sustainability was created in 2007 to develop sustainability goals for the city and to plan initiatives that support the entire community while helping to reduce the carbon footprint created by day to day living. “The resilience initiative looks at things through different lenses,” said Nicole Ferrini, Chief Resilience officer for the City of El Paso. “We are looking at the energy question with a triple bottom line: people, planet and profit.”

All procedures city-wide must follow strict guidelines defined in the “Livable City Sustainability Plan” to address the environmental, economic and social impact of future policies and programs.

There are a few programs that are making progress in the city that adhere to these principles and also help to improve the quality of life for all El Pasoans.

Electric rate increase stings for those on fixed income

EL PASO — Ramon Garcia, 55, lives on a fixed disability income and he never really thought much about electricity, until the El Paso Electric Company announced that it will raise his monthly power cost by $8.41. “The thing about the Electric Company, you can’t go anywhere else it not like the cell phones. It’s them or nobody else,” Garcia said. “You can scream and holler all you want but it won’t do you any good, unless the whole city raises hell, which I doubt.“

Dissatisfied and frustrated with the increase the electric company is asking for, Garcia understands there is not much that can be done, given that El Paso Electric is a monopoly. Alex Ochoa, an electrician in his early 40’s, has the same worries.

Fracking squeezes more natural gas from the desert, but it may also inject new pollutants

EL PASO — Arnold Escobar leaves his apartment under the hot sun of Odessa, Texas, a desert region abundant in oil nicknamed the Texas Petroplex, drives past oil derricks and pumpjacks, to a remote well site where heavy machinery whirs loudly. He slowly walks along the plant to get to the two-ton blender he operates and starts his work day, a long shift that can last 48 hours. “I feel like my job is an important one,” said Escobar, 24. Escobar is a Senior Equipment Operator for Archer, an oilfield service company that specializes in drilling and well services. One of those services is the process known as hydraulic fracturing, “fracking” for short.