Working Towards Clean Energy Is Important To Me As A Latina
Corpus Christi, Texas — I am the most important person in the United States: a young, unmarried, Hispanic female. So according to the research, I am part of the fastest-growing, most influential demographic group in the country. Yet, it seems that there’s another interest group contending for the title of “most influential”: big polluters.
I’m a native South Texan, so Corpus Christi was my first choice for college. I had not spent too much time around the ocean, so it was a nice change from my small hometown in the middle of the Rio Grande Valley along the border. Here, I like to frequent the downtown area, walk along the sea wall, and I like to watch the sailboats and windsurfers moving through the bays on a day when the constant wind makes the South Texas sun more bearable — very picturesque. In these moments, Corpus Christi truly is the Sparkling City by the Sea.
With the possible construction of Las Brisas, a petroleum-coke power plant, the city is in danger of losing its sparkle. Not only will air quality plummet, but toxic levels of mercury in our bays are likely to increase. Our health and the health of our coast are at risk.
Corpus Christi has a strong relationship with the sea, and many folks here fish regularly. There have already been documented instances of toxic game fish and members of the fishing industry, like fish distributor Charlie Alegria, have already expressed their concern about saving their family businesses if Las Brisas comes to town.
The EPA announced new standards for mercury pollution by coal plants, the largest single-source emitters of mercury into our atmosphere. It’s an incredibly important step forward for the health and sustainability of our community.
But the Las Brisas plant still casts a shadow on Corpus Christi. It seems that quick and easy opportunities for making money outweigh everything else. Human health, as well as the health of our bays, is at the mercy of big business. Coal and pet-coke refineries operate at the cost of human health. But we have a choice. We can and must shift our attention to renewable resources and using what we have more efficiently. There are many cleaner, safer efforts that need to be focused on if can have any hopes for a sustainable future.
I have found that the case is not always that people don’t care, it is that they are unaware of what is really going on. The more we can tell our friends, neighbors, and even strangers about the choices we must make, the better. South Texas is my home. I, someday, hope to raise a family here. I want my children born into a world where they can breathe clean air, swim in clean waters, and eat local seafood without fear that they will end up in a hospital due to an asthma attack or mercury poisoning.
By moving from coal to clean energy, we can make that possible.
Sonya Cortez is a volunteer with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.
[Photo By epSos.de]