While many climate groups and activists are fighting for climate mitigation on a national level, some local environmental and climate groups are fighting for climate mitigation right in their backyard. It isn't easy work and takes knowledge and especially perseverance against local and national companies influencing local governmental leaders against the own self interests over the public good. This week's podcast episode features the work of Mike Eisenfeld from the San Juan Citizens Alliance and his tireless work to shut down an aging coal power plant in Farmington, NM only to have a hedge fund swoop in to keep the plant going with a large and unproven Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) plan.
This plan has failed almost every milestone and keeps changing the rationalization for the coal power plant against all odds and science. Mike has watch-dogged this project through failed promises and now their attempts of getting federal and state money to bail out this failing power plant. His community has been a dumping ground for dirty oil extraction and dirty power for years and he is determined to shut down the coal power plant and get transition money for the town to create jobs that do not poison the people who live in the area.
Local work is a very important part of reaching climate goals and Mike talks about his project and working locally. The important and compelling story of his and others efforts can be found below.
Mike Eisenfeld is San Juan Citizens Alliance Energy and Climate Program Manager. Mike joined SJCA in 2006 following ten years as an environmental consultant in the Four Corners region. Mike works on energy issues including coal, oil/gas, air quality and public lands. He specializes in the National Environmental Policy Act, Federal Land Policy & Management Act, and Endangered Species Act compliance. Mike has a B.A. from Bates College and a M.A. in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Denver.
Mike's current work and this episode focus on a venture capital backed effort to extend the life of the San Juan Generating Station - a 1.7 gigawatt coal-fired power generation station once scheduled for decommissioning in 2022. As described in a June 29, 2022 High Country News article, this project proposes to implement carbon capture at a scale never before implemented, and to store it underground in areas of questionable geological quality.