My initial gratitude to DME for working on an energy plan is giving way to anger about the way the process has unfolded. The plan was presented as the only option. DME adopted the role of advocate rather than an honest broker of community discussion. Worse, the majority of city councilors also adopted the role of advocate – their minds seemingly made up before the plan was unveiled.
The residents of Denton own DME. Why were we not involved in the formulation of the plan? Instead, we were put in the position of marshaling alternatives from whatever ragtag sources we could cobble together in the face of a PLAN with all the legitimizing momentum of expertise pre-built into it.
City council represents us. But I get the sense that they are more involved in representing, speaking for, the plan. Is that us? We got a seat at the table for the Denton 2030 plan, but I don’t recall us being involved in this plan – one that calls for locking us into natural gas power plants until nearly 2070. The first I heard of it was about a week before it was unveiled. I was asked to keep it quiet. Embargoed information.
The city puts the PLAN in front of us and then asks – what do we think? Well, I think the conditions for genuine thinking are not in place. How are we, the non-experts but nonetheless owners and citizens, supposed to put into thought and speech our ideas when we were excluded from the process where the real thinking happened?
I think we need to stop and think.
There has been some talk of conspiracy. The way I have heard it defined, a ‘conspiracy’ means that there was a nefarious plot, a hidden agenda, behind the power plants. I don’t believe there is any conspiracy in that sense. I think people are trying to do the right thing for Denton. The plan has much to like about it. It’s not crazy. The people behind it are good and decent and intelligent.
But I do think there is a conspiracy here in another sense. The term means ‘to breathe together’ the way an orchestra inhales and exhales together in unison. The same spirit is animating DME and the majority of our city council. They are breathing the plan together. An agreement was reached: this is THE plan, now let’s sell it.
I’m in favor of a community that con-spires (breathes together), but only if that unison comes as the result of a process inclusive of our pluralism.
I want to speak candidly now to my friends on council who seem to have their minds made up. I understand how you could arrive at your position. 70% renewables is great. I could see each step in the decision being logical.
But if you step back, does it all add up? I want to ask you to zoom out to the big picture. Consider what being bold might mean – what would really put little d on the map.
And consider the fix we are in with the climate and the nastiness entailed in extracting and transporting natural gas – nastiness we know first-hand in Denton. I can only speak for me. But I know I wouldn’t want part of my legacy as a city councilor to include a vote for further investment in fossil fuel infrastructure. I couldn’t do that and then come home and look my kids in the eye.
Now, I know, we already consume natural gas. And I know even with 100% renewables we would, at least for a while, still rely on it. But we’d be far less dependent on it. And we wouldn’t build material structures guaranteed to burn the stuff for fifty more years. We wouldn’t turn that old crank yet again.
We heard the President say it the other day: we’ve got to start keeping fossil fuels in the ground. That’s not a project for someone else – some ‘they’ – to do. That’s OUR project – us here and now in this generation at this moment in history. Do you hear the call?
Maybe it was good that I wasn’t down in the weeds that led to the plan. It has afforded me a wider view. What I see is a golden opportunity to be a part of something big – a move away from the 20th century economy. A step into the future.
What’s your legacy going to be?