Majority of Latinos Support Climate Change Legislation
The notion that Latinos are the nation’s most avid greens contradicts the general stereotype of white environmentalists who drive a Prius, but from record-setting storms such as Hurricane Sandy to severe droughts and devastating wildfires on the west coast, it's not just white people who are taking notice of the impacts caused by accelerating climate change.
Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-Santa Fe, hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill Wednesday on the global climate crisis with prominent Latino organizations. Among the speakers at Wednesday's briefing were Adrianna Quintero, director of Voces Verdes and Daniel Lashof, director of the Climate and Clean Air Program.
According to a national poll conducted by the Natural Resource Defense Council, 74 percent of Latinos believe climate change is a very serious problem. Similarly, a 2012 survey by the Sierra Club, in conjunction with National Council of La Raza, found that 77 percent of Latinos believe climate change is already happening, compared with only 52 percent of the general public.
“These poll findings clearly show that President Obama speaks for Latinos on climate and clean energy issues,” Quintero said Wednesday. “The best way to strike back is to reduce dangerous carbon pollution from our dirtiest power plants, the single largest threat to our climate’s future. Latinos are counting on bold action and leadership for the sake of all of America’s children.”
The results of the poll should not come as a big surprise as Latinos are more likely to live in communities affected by extreme pollution and other environmental hazards, and young people are slated to spend the rest of their lives coping with worsening climate change. According to a report by the NAACP, of the six million people living within three miles of America’s coal-fired power plants, 39 percent are minorities.
Lashof outlined specific ways the president can use his constitutional authority under the Clean Air Act to cut carbon pollution by 26 percent from Power Plants by 2020, provide jobs to thousands of Americans, and save families up to $700 a year in electricity bills.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R – Fla.), in his response to the President’s State of the Union, claimed that the “government can’t change the weather.” If polling tells us anything, Rubio’s statements seem to put him at odds with the Latino community’s views on climate change.
Shawn Shaligram is an Online Communications Intern with Campus Progress. You can follow him on Twitter at @shatelegram.