Local activist organizations Southwest Workers Union and Fuerza Unida sent a shock troop of high-school-aged student interns into the breach today to protest developing plans to double the size of the South Texas Project nuclear complex.
Outside City-owned CPS Energy’s downtown office building they gathered to chant their opposition as a two-day hearing of the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board down in Bay City was wrapping up.
Two years ago, CPS and NRG Energy were the first to break a 29-year gap in nuke power applications. Now the pair top the U.S. Department of Energy’s federal loan guarantee program and are on track to start into the multi-billion-dollar expansion unless San Antonio’s council fails to approve moving forward (and NRG can’t find a replacement partner) or federal regulators find fault with the pair’s plans.
While nuke opponents in Bay City rattled off a long list of objections they hoped would gain traction with regulators, SWU and Fuerza wanted to make sure the flavor of that protest was not lost on San Antonio.
“Over the long run, nuclear is much more expensive and there’s more at risk,” said Diana Lopez, of SWU. “The city is creating this whole sustainability plan that should include [renewables] more than nuclear.”
Blaring from banners and posterboard was word of the young people’s objection to an investment that NRG Energy says will reach $10 billion. Cost projections by opponents have trended toward the deeper end of the debt pool, most recently topping off at $22 billion.
CPS Energy is set to release their cost estimate to the public in the coming days.
The SWU/Fuerza protest was also intended also to send a message to SA Congressmembers Charlie Gonzalez and Ciro Rodriquez (South Texas nuke objectors have given up on Sentators Cornyn and Hutchison) that local residents want a strong climate bill out of the American Clean Energy & Security Act. The bill is expected to be taken up in the House on Friday.
We talked with Diana Lopez of Southwest Workers (above, right):
For my part, I couldn't help enjoying the "Hey, Milty!" chant as twin CPS heads Milton Lee and Steve Bartley ducked down the street for lunch...
Meanwhile, across town, two lonely-looking environmentalists stood outside Representative Ciro Rodriguez’s office to draw attention to Ciro’s current swing-vote state of mind regarding ACES.
“The bill sets up a framework for transitioning into clean energy and curbing global warming,” said Ayleen Perez-Marty, a field organizer with Austin-based Environment Texas. “The energy efficiency component is of paramount importance to San Antonians because if you live in a home that is not energy efficient that means you’re using much more energy to cool your home in the summertime and heat your home in the wintertime.”
“I think the bill is good for San Antonio and is good for the economy,” said Edgar Farrera, a San Antonio architect deeply involved with green-building movement. “It lays the groundwork for a comprehensive approach to a more sustainable future.”
Got a problem with that? The pair pledged to meet you behind Ciro’s office for some no-holds-barred backyard wrestling.*
* Confessional: the devoted intern who took this last photo and interviewed Perez-Marty and Farrera (fine activists both) had no idea her supervising nincompoop would start making up the news. Yep. That assertion about backyard wrestling is not 100 percent, grade-A American true ... exactly. But you probably knew that.