Texas Advances Plan To Insulate Border Wall
April 1, 2017
Record warm temperatures this past winter have prompted Texas legislators to demand that insulation be installed in the Trump administration’s proposed border wall.
“We can no longer ignore the tidal wave of unwanted Mexican heat surging from our southern border,” said U.S. Representative John S. Swarm (R.-Texas). Rep. Swarm introduced legislation last week to insulate the proposed 1,254-mile-long wall along the state’s border with Mexico.
This comes after earlier efforts by state officials to pass legislation requiring Mexico to pay a tariff on any hot air it exported to the United States, which was modeled on a plan drafted by Minnesota lawmakers to place a tariff on Canada’s exports of cold air to the U.S. during the winter months.
Climate change solved?
According to a spokesman for Rep. Swarm, the congressman initiated these efforts to mitigate the “undue burden caused by spillover Mexican heat” after watching a Fox News report suggesting that increasing average annual temperatures in the southwest states were due to “encroaching heat” from Mexico and speculating that this “trespassing hot air” was costing American building owners enormous sums of money to cool their homes and businesses.
Lower energy bills: The key to gaining approval?
At a press conference yesterday, Rep. Swarm spoke with feverish passion about his plan. “Why should Texans pay to deal with Mexico’s heat? We have our own heat to deal with!”
Voicing his support of the plan, State Senator Spence Chesterton (R-Houston) told local newspaper, The Sun, “It’s about time we take steps to keep that bad air out. We don’t mind the good air—that cool spring air, you know—but that summer air… this is some really bad air we’re talking about.”
While posing for photos in an F-16 fighter jet at the Palm Beach Air & Water Show, President Trump said he thinks the plan is “unbelievably smart” and that it was his intention all along for the wall to also protect the country from unauthorized foreign heat. He later added on Twitter, “The #borderwall will SAVE AMERICANS MONEY on their utility bills (even ungrateful Democrats!).”
Choosing an insulation product
Unsurprisingly, there has been considerable debate over which insulation technology to use in the wall’s construction.
Calling into Sean Hannity’s radio show on Wednesday, El Paso contractor Steve Mansfield suggested fiberglass batt insulation. “I usually just go with R-13, but if we go to a 2x6 wall I guess you could do R-19. Seems kind of excessive though.”
Insulation contractor Shep Richardson, calling from Galveston, told Hannity that spray-foam insulation was the better choice, “because it makes an automatic air barrier.” He expressed concerns about cost, though, due to area labor shortages. “You used to be able to pick up day labor out in front of Home Depot, but there’s hardly anyone there anymore.”
Houston-based NASA engineer Wallace Hornsby posted an offer on Craigslist for 2,080 gallons of reflective paint, along with 30 pages of test results proving that a mere 0.6 mm coating would provide the equivalent of R-70. “We won’t be needing this since we won’t be launching any new Mission to Planet Earth climate-monitoring satellites any time soon,” he noted. “But if we can just get ten bucks a gallon for the paint we can at least buy a few more pencils.”
Austin architect Tyler Benedict, speaking to BuildingGreen on Thursday, initially proposed dense-pack cellulose with 4" of rigid mineral wool. In a series of text messages received overnight, however, Benedict outlined what BuildingGreen editors interpreted as a proposal to insulate the wall with down-cycled casino carpeting, discarded toupees, and “the shredded remains of the Constitution lmao #notreally [sic].”
Follow the arrows
Passive solar design pioneer Josh Winders from San Antonio scoffed at the whole insulation debate. “As long as the rendering of the wall has colored arrows showing the heat being turned away you’ll be fine,” he said. “I’ve never seen a project where the airflow didn’t follow the arrows on our drawings,” he added. Although, he later acknowledged, he had never actually visited one of his projects after it was completed.
Potential for free energy?
Former Texas governor Rick Perry, settling into his new role as head of the Department of Energy, weighed in with his own idea for the wall at a recent town hall meeting in Austin.
“I just learned that heat is actually a form of energy,” Secretary Perry said. “This may sound crazy, but just stay with me a minute… Imagine a technology that would allow us to capture some of this heat or energy that’s apparently coming from the sun—I guess you would call it sky energy—and use it for things like charging our watches and maybe even our phones. You follow me? If we had such a technology, we could put it up on the wall somehow, maybe in the form of some kind of panel?”
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