Originally published November 13, 2020
My dear friends, my name is Dr. David J. Garcia, I am a resident of Chaparral, New Mexico and a member of the Chaparral Parents in Action, along with my wife, Ida Garcia the Executive Director. We live 8 tenths of a mile from the present Newman Generating Station—a massive fracked-gas plant which processes natural gas from the West Texas Permian Basin. We, the residents and citizens of Chaparral, New Mexico and northeast El Paso, Texas are what is known or called a fence line community, because of our proximity to the Newman Plant.
The concerns that we have are very frightening when you think about all the deadly misgiving; especially when an industry uses fracked fuels to power the generation or produce electricity. Industry is emitting dirty pollutants that are poisonous, drastically contaminate the environment, contribute to climate change, and have a deadly impact on human life and health. That is the reason why the fossil fuel industry must be termed a “dirty” industry.
Carbon Monoxide (CO), Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), and Methane (CH4) are a few of the gases that will spew out of the power plant smokestacks. In many instances the smoke is colorless and people may be deceived of its poisonous nature. In fact, to fully comprehend the smoke emissions, one would need a special photopic or an electron lens to clearly see and entirely understand its dangerous emissions—something that Earthworks has done in September (video below).
We may ask ourselves when this deadly smoke is released by the Power Plant’s smokestacks, “Where do those poisonous particles go?” The answer is depending on speed and wind direction, it eventually falls to the ground and into our lungs. It lands on our backyards, on rooftops, vegetable gardens, and worst of all the air that we breathe. To add to this injustice, El Paso Electric wants to increase the capacity and pollution levels of this plant by adding a new 228 MW generator, “Newman 6”—a buildout that will impact this community for as long as the next four decades.
We oppose 40 more years of Dirty Energy in our communities and all the emissions it will entail. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the leading greenhouse gas causing the climate crisis. If the expansion is built, Newman 6 would increase the station’s emission to 1,335,500 tons per year. In many cases, the average citizen of the area does not fully grasp that amount of pollution. I tried explaining this sheer amount of gases to a friend. He asked, “Is that a lot?” To answer his question, I used the following analogy:
If I order 25 tons of sand from “JOBE Sand & Gravel Company,” JOBE would have send an 18 wheeler semi-truck loaded to capacity to drop 50,000 pounds (25 tons) in my backyard. That amount of sand in my backyard would take me 3 to 4 hours to spread with my Backhoe Kubota Tractor. If I would to give a man a shovel and wheel barrel in would take him 8 hours or more to move the sand. Therefore, with 25 tons to each 18-wheeler semi-truck, it would take 53,420 semi-trucks for JOBE to transport 1,335,500 tons of sand. 1,335,500 tons is the amount of carbon dioxide emissions we would have to endure every year if Newman 6 is built.
I told my friend, “Can you imagine 40 more years of this type of Dirty Energy, in the Sun City of Northeast El Paso, and Chaparral, New Mexico?” I ask the governmental entities in the State of Texas, both in County and City, as well as New Mexico’s Public Regulation Commission, and the State of New Mexico: Where is the transparency for these harmful and dangerous emissions? Who will protect us? Where is your responsibility to ensure “Public Safety,” to ensure good health of citizens over profit margins? Why do we permit this type of industry to destroy our environment? Talk about systemic injustice, the rich and powerful institutions exercising authority over the poor. In my opinion, this is a crying shame, because our people are desperate, tearful, worried, and frightful, that in the end no one will help us.
When in all reality, the State of Texas, the City of El Paso, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, and all its citizens could come together, united to make a better world for all of us. Recently, I read a front-page article in the Santa Fe New Mexican titled “Major wind power company to acquire PNM” (Thursday, October 23, 2020). PNM stands for Public Service of New Mexico, a company providing power to more than 525,000 customers in New Mexico.
The article read; “Avangrid is the third-largest wind operator in the U.S. and is a leading sustainable energy company with more than 7.5 gigawatts of installed wind and solar capacity.” The company owns eight utility companies in the Northeast and builds wind power facilities—including the 306 MW La Joya Windfarm, with 111 turbines under construction near Encino in Torrance County and the neighboring 298 megawatt El Cabo Wind Farm with 142 turbines operating since 2017. Analysts said PNM customers likely will see credits on their electricity bills once the acquisition is official.
Therefore, I make it loud and clear that renewable energy is the future—in New Mexico and for the rest of the country and world at large. Why can’t the people of Northeast El Paso, Texas, and Chaparral, New Mexico, be able to enjoy the quality life of this type of new clean energy. Why should we be the chosen few to fall back to the dark ages with the utilization of fracked gas and poisonous emissions.
We the citizens should not allow such dirty industry that will ill affect our people’s health and livelihoods. The “Chaparral Parents in Action” strongly oppose the development and construction of this new extension of Newman 6 Project. The Newman 6 Project will have serious deadly consequences for our people, and we must not let this happen.
Dr. David J. Garcia is a native of Northern New Mexico from Chamita, New Mexico. He received his Education Degree Specialist (EDS) in School Administration, at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Dr. David J. Garcia has over 36 years of experience in the areas of education and working with youth as a Principal at the Elementary level, Middle School, and High School Education. Dr. David J. Garcia retired in 2011 and became Dona Ana County Commissioner for four years with experience in governmental issues. Presently he is taking care of his elderly mother of 92 years of age and enjoying retirement in Chaparral, New Mexico.