San Antonio native aims to help shape city's climate agenda
DeeDee Belmares, recently hired as Public Citizen’s climate justice organizer in San Antonio, is new to the job, but she’s not new to San Antonio.
Born and raised in Texas’ second most populous city, Belmares has a long track record of environmental activism in her hometown, both in volunteer and contract capacities. Most recently she developed the San Antonio Ecomadres program, a collaboration between Moms Clean Air Force and Green Latinos that brings Latino moms together to address climate change and air pollution that affects the health of Latino children and families.
Belmares, who speaks Spanish, has also worked with health professionals from the Eagle Ford Shale – a massive oilfield in South Texas – to raise awareness of the health impacts of the fracking industry on health and air quality.
Belmares said she’s eager to get started in her new capacity as the San Antonio climate justice organizer for Public Citizen’s Texas office. She’s especially determined to help ensure San Antonio’s new climate plan is implemented in a way that protects all city residents. Belmares also will strategically push CPS Energy – San Antonio’s city-owned utility – to abandon its dirty Spruce Coal plant and adopt more clean energy sources.
“I feel confident that by partnering with other organizations we can work with City Council and CPS Energy to be more open and get them to realize that they need to close that coal plant,” Belmares said. “We can’t potentially burn that unit to 2060 (as currently suggested by CPS). We just can’t do that.”
She also said San Antonio is ready to take its eco-awareness to the next level.
“Climate change is a big issue, and people either believe it they don’t,” Belmares said. “I think most people really are concerned about it, but they don’t see how it affects them on a day-to-day basis and they don’t see the effects it can have.
“I think most people would say ‘if you can keep my rate at this level or lower with cleaner energy and good jobs why wouldn’t the public buy into that? They would. So, I’m trying to figure out how do we put that picture together so we can present it to the public.”