Cultivator: News for February 7-February 13

Cultivator 3:Seek Shelter; Rare Earth’s in Hondo; Wright’s Hunger Strike

Polar Ice For Valentine’s Day

Whether lover or lonely-hearted, housed or dangerously unhoused, two-legged or four, the residents of San Antonio and South Texas appear to be entering the coldest Valentine’s Day in historical record. Last forecast for Sunday suggested a low of 12, and a 9-degree night the following Monday. Here are a few related headlines, plus resources for protecting those most at risk from extreme cold:

RELATED: Global freezing? Not quite. It’s warming-driven climate change that’s knocking the jet stream out of whack at the Arctic, pushing polar weather into decidedly non-Arctic spaces like ours. Climate disruption means a break with historical norms (ie. record-breaking fill-in-the-blank: fires, storms, hot and cold snaps), but heat-related anomalies are beating out cold record-breakers by two to one.

TAKE ACTION: Deceleration readers are familiar with Molly Wright, now more than 20 days into a hunger strike meant to pressure the City of San Antonio into enacting policy truly accountable to the needs of unsheltered people (listen to our interview here). Molly ends her hunger strike Sunday as a car caravan assembles the following day (weather dependent) for a public demonstration supporting those as-yet-unmet calls for policy changes—chiefly an end to the encampment sweeps that displaced almost 100 people earlier this month. (See Facebook event: “Where is your heart? City Manager Erick Walsh & Mayor Ron Nirenberg?”).

Did we miss any critical area eco-stories? Write us:

Hondo Could Become a Global Rare Earths Player

The sign in Hondo urges highway drivers not to barrel through town “like hell,” but a raft of other concerns are boiling up over a possible $30-million contract with Lynas Corporation, an Australian company that seeks to develop a rare-earth mineral processing facility in the town of fewer than 10,000. If built, the plant could produce a quarter of all rare-earth element oxides on the planet, according to the US Pentagon (via the San Antonio Report). Hondo Mayor Jim Danner would like to dampen public fears over massive water use, pressure on the local wastewater treatment plant, and even toxic tailings. “People need to trust the city, council and management, along with Medina County officials, that we will ensure whatever comes out of any rare earth separating plant in the long run is safe,” he told the Hondo Anvil Herald.

Trust us.

While the company touts a glowing internal sustainability report, residents near the company’s Malaysian facility have other feelings about Lynas’s record.

We can’t help but note too that this seems to be a weird case of life imitating art; Deceleration Co-Editor Marisol Cortez’s just-released novel Luz at Midnight centrally involves a storyline wherein a shady start-up discovers a cache of rare earth minerals beneath South Texas and proceeds to hornswoggle local government. In that case, rare earth extraction is the ironic key to a rapid transition off fossil fuels, whereas here the narrative is geopolitical competition with China for materials increasing dear to the US defense industry (ie. billions of dollars dear, especially for evolving hypersonic weaponry). But still … weird timing.

We’ll continue to follow with interest.

Energy Notas

Following last week’s momentous headlines around San Antonio’s CPS Energy’s almost-a-plan Flexible Path to (maybe) close its coal power plant by 2030, there’s been a string of related updates elsewhere in the energy nexus intersecting with … everything.


By which we mean the upper end of the watershed…


… to the mouth of our river valley.

State agency says the Port of Corpus Christi shouldn’t get permit for desalination plant (Corpus-Christi Caller Times)

If approved the plant would dump treated wastewater from the plant—including 110 million gallons of brine per day—into the Corpus Christi Ship Channel, roughly 300 feet off shore. “The Port Aransas Conservancy is pushing back on the Port of Corpus Christi on its plan to industrialize our backyard and PAC is fully engaged in opposing that folly,” opponents said in a statement.

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