San Antonio residents and city officials get their first chance tonight to speak out on that controversial and highly ambitious plan to keep San Antonio within the boundaries of the Paris Accords to fight global climate change, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The aggressive plan, which aims to wean San Antonio away from fossil fuels completely by 2050, is one of Maryor Nirenberg's signiture priorities. Unveiled last month, it calls for transforming vechiles on city streets from gasoline and diesel to electric power, and to drastically improve the energy efficiency of homes and buildings in the city.
But Doug Melnick, who heads the San Antonio office of sustainability, rejects claims that the plan aims to take people's cars away, or 'force' drivers to go elected.
"We need to understand what the fiscal implications are before we begin transitioning to clean energy sources," Melnick said. "I think the city and the Council have acknowledge that is where we need to go, we need to have this dialogue with the community on how we get there."
Melnick says one area which has been misunderstood is the goal of makign the switch to electric cars over the coming 31 years.
"We are not going to mandate or get involved with anybody's personal vehicle," he said. "If somebody wants to drive a gas powered vehicle, that is their decision."
Melnick says the City must be prepared to be able to facilitate the change to electric vehicles by people who want to make that switch, which he thinks will be many of them. He says the City can do that by, for example, making sure charging stations are available all around the city.
"I think where the city's role is in, for example, establishing charging infrastructure," he said. "Trying to identify what the barriers are to EV ownership and see if there are things that we could support around group purchasing, to get our residents the best possible price for electric vehicles."
Melnick says without major steps, San Antonio in the latter half of this city will have a climate similar to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, with far more super hot days and far more stretches without rain.
Other priorities in the 2050 Climate Change plan include having CPS Energy transition away from coal and natural gas to renewable fuels for power generation, enouraging tree planting, encouraging citizens to live in neighborhoods closer to their work to facilitate less urban sprawl and shorter commutes, and using the City's zoning authority to encourage stricter building codes which conserve energy, and encouraging homes to install solar power facilities on their roofs.
The hearing tonight begins at 6PM at the Villita Assembly Building downtown, with signup beginning at 5:30.