Nestled against the mighty Mississippi is the historic city of Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana. We have the tallest capitol building in the U.S., and, sadly, one of our governors was killed there. You can feel the history as you walk inside. The scenic views of the city against the river may seem like soothing, natural paradise, but if you take a deep breath, you’ll be choking on air that is some of the most polluted in the nation. This is why I think that homeowners here in my city would greatly benefit from an HVAC system made by Tesla.
Another idea, this one coming from me, is to create some type of solution with bioweapons defense for window air-conditioning units. I have two of these in my shotgun duplex apartment, which is not modernized nor wired for central air and heat. Many older homes in Louisiana are like mine — built during a time when electricity wasn’t so prevalent and the need was to withstand hurricanes and extremely hot temperatures.
Tesla’s mission is focused on accelerating our transition to sustainability, and part of this includes an advanced HVAC system in some of its vehicles. This system includes bioweapon defense — something that would have come in handy when the Exxon plant exploded back in 2020. (Yes, I say exploded because I heard the blast.) Although officials claim otherwise, other witnesses saw the fireball itself.
Exxon refinery explosion in Baton Rouge. Why do these explosions keep happening? How many carcinogens are released into the air with each explosion? Hope they check #benzene and #xylene levels.#air #pollutants #health #BatonRouge #hazardous #chemicals #airmask pic.twitter.com/G33ihDwq9H
— Earthling (@compassioncross) February 12, 2020
Baton Rouge’s Exxon Plant Produces 350 Pounds Of PM2 Per HOUR
The same plant, which is around five miles from my apartment, had an independent test conducted back in January 2020 by an engineering firm the company hired to demonstrate its regulatory compliance. That test found out that the emissions averaged around to 255 pounds per hour during the test — exceeding the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s (LDEQ) limit of 234 pounds. It should be noted that this is one of the highest limits in the nation.
Compared with other similarly sized refineries here in Louisiana, this is incredibly high. The other refineries have emissions limits closer to 50 pounds per hour. The reason why Exxon’s numbers were so high is due to the fact that it doesn’t want to spend the money needed to update two catalytic crackers. You can read more about this here.
Could Tesla Create An HVAC Unit For Homes?
Elon Musk has previously tweeted that he is thinking of upscaling Tesla’s HVAC system to a home system. I think this is necessary for the health of those of us living in areas that are highly polluted. Cancer Alley would definitely benefit, and if Tesla was to create such units, perhaps local, state, and federal governments would collaborate to have homes install these units for those living in low-income areas — areas such as St. Gabriel, which has a plant that violated the Clean Air Act in 2013.
We will make super efficient home hvac with hepa filters one day
— Elon Musk, the 2nd (@elonmusk) September 11, 2020
There are several horror stories coming out of St. Gabriel, including that of Hazel Schexnayder, who witnessed her home transformed from plantations, cornfields, and Louisiana countryside into a multitude of towering chemical plants that began poisoning the residents. There are 30 large petrochemical plants within 10 miles of her home, with 13 being within a 3 mile radius. The nearest facility is the world’s largest manufacturer of polystryene — styrofoam.
The Most Toxic Air In America
In 2019, The Guardian reported that Louisiana has the most toxic air in America. We aren’t nicknamed Cancer Alley for fun. That article focused on another town, Reserve, which is known as “Cancer Town.” Although residents suspected the air was poisoning them, proof of this came out in 2015 when a report on toxic air was released. The findings from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed that not only was this area at a much higher risk of cancer, but it highlighted Reserve as the center.
The article noted that those 2015 revelations were met with little action. Mary Hampton, a resident who was interviewed in the article, said, “We felt like nobody cared. The attitude was ‘it is what it is so you all just live with it.” She also asked, “What are we supposed to do, stay here, be sick and die?”
Honestly, I can understand her pain. A couple of weeks ago, I joined a handful of Tesla owners at the state capitol building to protest SB 8, which passed anyway. Our version of protesting was through education — we sought to raise awareness about the importance of EVs and how they help our environment, and thus ourselves.
Sadly, the response was the usual, scripted, “the oil industry is our job provider and if we do away with that, we lose our economy,” or something similar along those lines. It’s not that our politicians don’t care about people such as Hampton who is breathing poisoned air. It’s more than that. Our politicians are practically indentured servants to the oil and gas industry. This may sound extreme, but one clear example is this article by Huff Post, which found that Governor Edwards was given talking points by an oil and gas lobbying group for his visit to Congress. He was also given a ghost-written email to send to President Biden.
In essence, our politicians feel like they can’t afford to care about their constituents. However, Tesla’s mission enables it to care about its customers.
Is It Tesla’s Responsibility To Do What Our Government Refuses To Do? No, But Here’s How It Could Benefit
I know that Tesla isn’t responsible for the fallacies of our government. However, it is a company led by Elon Musk, who has a heart for those suffering from crises of all types. He helped Flint Schools with water filtration, he helped hurricane victims in Louisiana, his work at Tesla is about sustainable energy and protecting a livable climate for humanity, his work at SpaceX is about bringing humanity to another planet (Mars) in case we get wiped out on Earth for some reason.
I think that Tesla would actually benefit from creating an HVAC system for homes while also keeping in mind the older homes that depend on window units. Perhaps Tesla could even redesign the window units and sell them at a price that is competitive with the industry. I would buy them for my apartment.
Louisiana is an oil state, and that probably won’t change in my lifetime. However, Tesla and other companies that actually care about the future of this planet definitely stand a chance at improving the livelihoods of those of us in areas such as Cancer Alley.
I could move, I know, but this is home. Would you abandon your home over a problem that with time and patience is solvable? Or would you stay and use your voice to empower those who may not have one, or don’t know how to use theirs?
Featured image courtesy of Tesla
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