IssuesLocal NewsTaxes & SpendingEXCLUSIVE: Polling Shows San Antonio Voters Skeptical of City’s Proposed “Green New Deal”

Polling shows a majority of San Antonio voters believe climate change is a threat to their community, but most aren't willing to pay more in energy costs.
May 6, 2019
On the heels of San Antonio’s mayoral runoff following Saturday’s elections, a new report by a conservative think tank shows many San Antonio residents may not be buying what some climate change activists and city council members are selling. The Climate Action & Adaptation Plan (CAAP) — more or less a local version of the much-discussed “Green New Deal” — was released earlier this year by SA Climate Ready, an organization dedicated to “building solutions to prepare our city for climate change.”

SA Climate Ready says it partners with numerous other organizations such as school districts, higher education institutions, neighborhood associations, the military, chambers of commerce, business and industry leaders, and others. The CAAP proposal “focus[es] on equity,” and “includes strategies for reducing San Antonio’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and adapting the city to the effects of climate change.”

With a goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050, the CAAP proposal promotes an extensive government-mandated reordering of the city’s infrastructure and economy. This includes decarbonizing the grid; switching from natural gas to electricity to power existing buildings [presumably proponents mean a switch from natural gas to renewables like solar and wind]; placing a reporting requirement that businesses owning 50,000-plus square foot buildings report their energy usage to the regulating body; and adopting a zero net energy code for all new buildings by 2040.

The CAAP plan also calls for reducing water consumption, both on a total and per capita basis; investing in new “human-powered” transportation infrastructure; transitioning to carbon-free personal vehicles while reducing total mileage traveled; and an idea known as “carbon sequestration,” which is a process by which carbon dioxide is pulled from the atmosphere and transformed into its liquid or solid state.

In late March, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg delayed the city council’s vote on CAAP until the fall — a move he explained by saying, “action and adaptation is too important not to get it right.”

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However, a new poll of San Antonio voters conducted on behalf of the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), an opponent of the city’s climate change plan, found that while 59 percent believe climate change to be either a very serious or somewhat serious threat to their family and community, the specific proposals in the CAAP plan aren’t so popular.

Asked whether they support or oppose a proposal requiring them to give up their current vehicle and buy a new, carbon-free one, or switch to public transportation, biking, or walking — 66 percent of San Antonio voters said they oppose such a plan.

Additionally, if the implementation of CAAP incurs increased energy costs, 55 percent of San Antonio voters said they would be either somewhat or very opposed to it.

And when asked how much more they’d be willing to pay in energy costs to generate power from 100 percent zero-carbon sources, 52 percent said “nothing.”

Brian Phillips, Chief Communications Officer for TPPF addressed the findings by saying, “The San Antonio CAAP proposal will reduce choices and increase costs for families and businesses, and it’s clear Texans recognize this and reject it. The plan will have little to no effect on the environment, but it will have a significant impact on the daily lives of residents. Taking away people’s cars and trucks and driving up energy costs won’t help San Antonians.”

The Texan reached out to San Antonio Councilwoman Ana Sandoval, a supporter of the CAAP proposal, but she was unavailable for comment. 

The poll sample consisted of 801 registered voters with a margin of error of ±3.5 percent.

Editor’s Note: The 50,000-plus square foot building stanza has been corrected.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.