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Migration in the Borderland and the Climate Charter Question Facing El Pasoans

As the end of Title 42 nears, thousands of migrants have been living in dangerous conditions, waiting for their chance to make a claim for asylum in the U.S. KC Counts will speak with El Paso Times Border Reporter Lauren Villagran about her coverage over the years and what we might expect after the end of the pandemic-era restrictions on asylum-seekers. KRWG Public Media Scholar Noah Raess examines the unique challenges faced by young migrant workers and how the College Assistance Migrant Program helps. Plus, El Paso voters will be deciding on Prop K and other ballot measures on May 6th. Dominic Chacon of Sunrise El Paso will offer his organization’s response to claims that the climate charter would destroy El Paso’s economy.

El Paso Chamber President & CEO Andrea Hutchins issued the following statement in response to our request for comment on the report that was critical of their data and projections:

"The Chamber stands by the analysis we commissioned. While the newly released 'Idea Smiths' report seems critical of Points Consulting, it does not offer an affirmative argument in favor of the climate charter and is based on faulty assumptions on its own right - as I will outline below. We appreciate that an unnamed entity commissioned the report, but it is faulty, lacks data, and makes takes liberal interpretation of the Climate Charter at its onset, while faulting the Chamber for making assumptions based on the direct language of the eight-page Charter.

A few issues we have with the findings of this report: El Paso Electric’s goals are referenced in the executive summary and on page 9 of the report where it states: 'As indicated by El Paso Electric’s own modeling, there are multiple pathways to providing clean energy, including nuclear, solar, wind, and geothermal.' Clean energy is not a tenet of the charter - 100% renewable is! The authors make the mistake of using the two interchangeably throughout this study. Making the entire thing void. Further, the authors continue to make the assumption that EPE's current plans are not put on pause in order to fight municipalization in court. Additionally, the costs of purchase and new management of the municipality are not represented in this assumption either.

We have listed, time and time again, our opposition to the potential financial impacts on utilities and local businesses. While the new report seems cavalier that our concerns are exaggerated, I wonder if they would feel comfortable speaking directly to members whose livelihoods could be on the line. Until that kind of certainty, we feel comfortable in arguing against charter passage.

Additionally despite a large Austin infrastructure, local proponents seem incapable of offering a clear argument FOR the charter EXCEPT to criticize the data commissioned by the Chamber. The proponents of K seem to have lost the through line on why they are arguing for the charter in the first place. In fact, the repeated assertion that the EPC study is biased, rather than defending solid policy, is a clear indicator to us that K cannot be defended on its merits.

The findings of this report use references such as www.bobvila.com, and this foot note source (which reads like a note from someone's napkin): 'While we recognize that El Paso resides outside of ERCOT, activity in the ERCOT region should nonetheless be a good proxy for what is possible in El Paso' as well as the writers own reported findings (which include mostly reports representing the Dallas region – not far West Texas). So, no. The Chamber is not taking this as a 'gotcha' moment. Instead, I would like to ask why the Chamber’s study is under such scrutiny while there has been very little scrutiny over the language in the Charter itself. The Idea Smiths report didn’t scrutinize the City’s findings or the Charter’s lack of numbers. This discussion should not be about the merits of the campaign, rather it should be about the merits of the Charter. I suspect since the Charter is so poorly written, and easily questioned, one has to focus on the questions it raises, rather than the answers it provides.

As for the citizens of New Mexico - Proposition K does little to advocate for the El Pasoans, let alone those outside the City limits and is null of any representation for those in Las Cruces, Horizon City, Socorro, and on and on. A vote for Prop K essentially ensures these communities have no voice in their own electric rates, water rights, taxes, and economic development. How’s that for climate justice?"

-Andrea Hutchins, President and CEO of El Paso Chamber