El Paso

The El Paso town hall, held on October 28th, brought together decision-makers, longtime El Paso environmental champions, student activists and El Pasoans from all parts of the community. everyone who spoke voiced a strong desire to make their city a healthier place for all to live and work. The panelists spoke passionately and convincingly about the need for changes at TCEQ and the important role that citizens play in making those changes possible. The panelists included State Senator Eliot Shapleigh, State Representative Joe Moody, pharmacist and long-time environmental activist Joe Piñon, County Commissioner Veronica Escobar and Dr. Elaine Barron.

The decades-long fight against the Asarco smelter was a major theme for all who spoke. The continued health crisis caused by the smelter (even though it has finally closed down) was movingly described by several of the speakers. Arsenic and lead poisoning continues to be a severe health problem in the community, and other El Paso facilities still threaten the health of both workers and nearby residents. The town hall ended with the striking metaphor suggested by Al Soto that the current TCEQ Sunset review might serve as a “phoenix event” for the agency.

The El Paso town hall was co-sponsored by the El Paso Sierra Club, Environmental Associates of UTEP, and the El Paso Solar Alliance. Special thanks to the Environmental Associates volunteers who helped to make this town hall successful, as well as host Laurence Gibson and moderator Nick Miller. ACT looks forward to working with the El Paso community in the future.

Presentations:
Senator Eliot Shapleigh TCEQ: Captured and Corrupted

Related News Articles:
“Air Permit Gets State Push: Environmental official urging judges to consider request for coastal power plant before deadline”, Asher Price, Austin American Statesman (October 24, 2010)