Last week I wrote about our congressman, Vicente Gonzalez, co-sponsoring legislation that empowers debt collection attorneys to our detriment. Just a day or two later I saw him promoting his successful efforts to encourage the US Department of Agriculture to load $50 million to the San Miguel Electric Co-op so it can continue providing electricity to 40 or so South Texas counties with 220,000 customers. That sounded like something to be proud of until I learned that it will keep one of the dirtiest coal burning plants in the country operating for another 19 years so that investors don’t lose $489 million if it is forced to shut down before the loans are paid off.
The reality then is that rather than let the “market” work and wealthy investors lose money he’s proud of using our tax dollars to bail them out while polluting our air with both toxins and climate damaging greenhouse gases. This particular plant is so dirty and inefficient because it burns lignite coal, a fuel so inefficient that operators build plants on top of coal deposits as it is too expensive to haul it by train.
The volume of carbon dioxide put out by the San Miguel plant is much higher per kilowatt of electricity generated than almost any other type of generator. That excess carbon dioxide just hastens the very climate change that is already damaging the residents of the district. Both Seguin and McAllen where the bulk of the district’s population resides have experienced several devastating floods in recent years and such floods are likely to become both more frequent and more damaging as the climate heats up.
The National Climate Assessment (NCA) was released by the federal government the Friday after Thanksgiving, it assesses the science of climate change and variability and its impacts across the United States. Among its findings were that “In the absence of significant global mitigation action and regional adaptation efforts, rising temperatures, sea level rise, and changes in extreme events are expected to increasingly disrupt and damage critical infrastructure and property, labor productivity, and the vitality of our communities. Regional economies and industries that depend on natural resources and favorable climate conditions, such as agriculture, tourism, and fisheries, are vulnerable to the growing impacts of climate change. Rising temperatures are projected to reduce the efficiency of power generation while increasing energy demands, resulting in higher electricity costs. The impacts of climate change beyond our borders are expected to increasingly affect our trade and economy, including import and export prices and U.S. businesses with overseas operations and supply chains. “
Overall “…the continued warming that is projected to occur without substantial and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions is expected to cause substantial net damage to the U.S. economy throughout this century, especially in the absence of increased adaptation efforts. With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century—more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many U.S. states.”
I don’t know about you but I’m more than frustrated that the man we elected to represent us seems to be more interested in his Wall Street backers like Charles Schwab, Credit Suisse Securities, and UBS Americas Inc. just to name a few, than he is in the wellbeing of his constituents. If you feel the same way call his office and let him know. His Washington office number is 202-225-2531.