With Representative Veronica Escobar, El Paso has something El Paso hasn’t had before: a Congressperson who is landing her district a lot of federal money.
Sure, Congressman Sylvester Reyes brought in some pork for Fort Bliss and the Border Patrol, and Congressman Beto O’Rourke captured some bacon for the VA. But Congresswoman Escobar is bringing in a lot more cheddar.
Like $900,000 for a study of that highway deck park.
And $700 million to expand the Bridge of the Americas.
(One only has to read the City’s Strategic Plan to understand that the City of El Paso is only interested in the bureaucracy of the City of El Paso, and not the citizens of El Paso.)
So there’s this press release from Congresswoman Escobar’s office, from August 15, 2023:
Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) released the Climate Crisis Advisory Committee Framework and reintroduced her legislation H.R. 5204, the Climate Adaptation Plan Act of 2023 (CAP Act), inspired by the report and the work of her Climate Crisis Advisory Committee (CCAC). This legislation directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator to establish a grant program to facilitate the development of climate adaptation plans for local and tribal governments like the Climate Crisis Advisory Committee Framework. Climate adaptation plans make recommendations to local governments by centering resilience measures, environmental justice, economic prosperity, and community-driven collaboration.
“Like many communities across the country, El Paso is setting records this year as our fight against the irreversible effects of climate change only grows more urgent,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “The damage that will be caused by climate change is inevitable, but we must be proactive to mitigate its intensity. I’m hopeful that my bill will encourage local and tribal governments in low-income communities to apply and use federal funding to implement climate adaptation plans across the country. I’m grateful to the members of the CCAC whose work created our publication.”
Established in February 2021, the Climate Crisis Advisory Committee (CCAC) consisted of meetings with local stakeholders and experts to explore ideas and create sustainable recommendations for El Paso to reduce climate damage in both the near and long term. The recommendations given to El Paso from CCAC serve as the example framework in the CAP Act for grants to be available to local and tribal governments across the country to implement their own recommendations and ultimately adopt their own climate adaptation plans.
I can only assume that in El Paso, the local stakeholders included the City of El Paso.
And you know that the dominoes were getting set up way before any official announcement.
In February of 2023, the City of El Paso announced the creation of the Office of Climate and Sustainability, which seems to be first step in acquiring the forthcoming federal funds.
On November 21, 2023, the Biden-Harris Administration* announced $2 billion to fund Environmental and Climate Justice Community Change Grants, with this specific carve-out in their Target Investment Areas:
U.S.-Southern Border Communities: Consistent with EPA’s longstanding commitment to addressing transborder pollution challenges, $100 million for projects benefitting [sic] non-Tribal disadvantaged communities within 100 kilometers north of the U.S.-Mexico border.
“. . . disadvantaged communities within 100 kilometers north of the U.S.-Mexico border”? Who does that sound like to you?
What I’m saying is that it looks like the City of El Paso is lined up to get a big chunk of that federal climate money, and the recent action awarding a million bucks to AECOM is part of the critical path for cashing in.
I suspect most of that money will go towards enriching and expanding the City bureaucracy. But maybe some scraps will accidentally fall from the table and actually do something about the climate crisis.
*I don’t remember a presidential administration including the Vice President in their moniker. I don’t recall, for instance, a Trump-Pence Administration, or a Clinton-Gore Administration, or a Nixon-Agnew Administration.