Q+A with Sunrise El Paso

Know more about the West + Southwest area of Texas with Ana Fuentes, representative of the organization

Deeds Not Words
Deeds Not Words
Published in
5 min readMay 3



Ana: Sunrise El Paso is part of a larger national movement. The way that the Sunrise Movement works is that each arm is independent of the others. So we each get to implement Green New Deal or climate change policies within our own communities how we see fit.

We are youth-led and we view the climate crisis as an intersectional issue. We prioritize perspectives that have been marginalized or neglected and lift those voices up. For example, we are very much guided by the idea of land back and raising indigenous voices and sustainability from an indigenous perspective.

We have an office and a community center and we really do try to hold that space open for everyone. We have a lot of reproductive resources there such as tampons, pregnancy, tests, and condoms. All of those things are free So we really just try to exist in our community in a way that is as anti-capitalist as possible. We really want to see changes in our city and I recognize that the change needs to come from the youth

At city council meetings that we’ve attended, we’ve noticed that despite El Paso being like 90-something percent Hispanic yet the people who hold power are mostly cis white males. We really want to build power within ourselves so that eventually, someone from Sunrise can run for city council and reframe these structures in a way that aligns with what we feel like the youth want rather than the interests of the rich people in El Paso.


Ana: Firstly, our electric company is not tied to the rest of the Texas grid, We didn’t experience rolling blackouts or anything like that during the winter storm. The reason for that is because two or three years ago, our electric company, El Paso Electric, was bought out by a shell company that’s owned by JP Morgan. Chase Bank, who is also the biggest financier of the climate crisis, is who our electric company is currently owned by. Despite being the 10th sunniest city in the world, we only use 40% solar energy and that’s just because of the connections to the financiers and the banking industry. We’re also tied to the Permian basin which is four hours away from here. I think we get maybe a quarter of our oil from the Permian Basin.

The People who own the refinery in town, (which is by the way, right in the middle of town), are the same people who are the biggest contributors to political campaigns here in El Paso. So yes, the electric company and extracting industries are so intertwined with El Paso.

Also, we’re a desert. Our water is very limited. Our city borders Mexico and New Mexico. Regulations are very tricky because they have to follow Texas regulations and New Mexico regulations. The way that water treaties work, we’ve just been getting less and less water every year. So that’s incredibly harmful. It’s predicted that we’re gonna run out of water within the next 10 years.


Ana: We got our 39,000 signatures to get the Climate Initiative on the ballot which would essentially create a climate department that would guide the city towards renewable energy and develop sustainability reports and as well as identify areas of town that are exposed to higher pollutants. We were able to get those signatures and we presented them to the city council. The city clerk city and staff have been very contrarian and they’ve weaponized their incompetence because they basically argued that work that took us two weeks to do on a purely volunteer basis would take their paid staff to do in a hundred days.

We also know that the board and the director of the El Paso Company have told people that she is in contact with Greg Abbot who has told her that our policy is illegal. which is not true. We worked with attorneys to make sure that it was not illegal and even included safeguards. If there’s a certain aspect within the Charter that’s not legal, then that part can be struck out without completely canceling out the policy.


Ana: the fact that we were able to get 39,000 El Pasoans to support the Climate Initiative. It’s insane. We’ve got so many more followers. Not in the Instagram way, but like movement followers. It’s just been really inspiring to know that this is what the community wants. I also think it’s been really empowering as a youth.

We stormed our city council meeting where they were discussing this ballot initiative and 40 of us gave public comments and yelled at them to have a soul and to do their job. They’re literally looking down at you physically in a city council meeting and they’re probably thinking, like, Who the f*** is this girl with pink hair? Like who is she? You know? They look at us as kids and it’s very frustrating, but it’s also empowering that we have power in numbers.

They’re scared that this newer generation is more radicalized, more activated, and we’re angry. So, even though it’s frustrating that the wheels are turning slowly, I do see the momentum building up and the opportunity to build that community is energizing. I don’t feel like I’m alone in this. We have a community and together we’re making these giant companies bleed and that’s empowering.


  • Listen to the Sunrise El Paso podcast for more information and to stay connected to their work! Look for Mesquite Media wherever you get your podcast!
  • Support or volunteer with Familias Unidas de Chamizal
  • If you live in El Paso, vote for the El Paso Climate Charter!
  • Sunrise El Paso emails are open! Reach out to them to see how you can get involved!



Deeds Not Words
Deeds Not Words