Latino Communities Demand Congress, EPA Step Up to Fight Asthma
Latino community advocates visited Washington, D.C. to urge members of Congress and the EPA to craft a strong Clean Power Plan to cut air pollution.
Update: On March 28th, 2017, President Trump issued a sweeping executive order that undermines federal actions to combat climate change, including the landmark Clean Power Plan. Earthjustice will continue to defend the Clean Power Plan in court against any Trump administration attempts to dismantle it.
This is a guest blog by Irene Vilar. She is the founder of The Americas for Conservation and the Arts, the mother organization of The Americas Latino Festival and the first nonprofit literary agency in the U.S., Vilar Creative Agency, dedicated to the dissemination of minority literature of the Americas.
Colegas, I was in Washington D.C. in May meeting with members of Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House about the Clean Power Plan, along with other advocates representing five states. We were there to amplify the voices of our communities feeling the damaging impacts of carbon pollution and dirty air. We were there demanding congressional leadership, pushing legislators not to put the interests of dirty energy above the integrity of our children’s and mother Earth’s future.
In June 2014, the EPA announced the first ever standard to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants, our nation’s largest source of climate changing greenhouse gas emissions. This standard, called the Clean Power Plan, establishes pollution targets for each state. Once implemented, the plan will reduce U.S. carbon pollution 30 percent by 2030.
But this historic plan is under threat from members of Congress who want to block the EPA’s ability to protect public health and the health of the environment that sustains us. We need to support with all we’ve got this commonsense solution to help stop the insanity that emerges when corporate interests override the public interest. A few examples of the insanity:
- One in every 10 children in the U.S. suffers from air pollution-related asthma, the most frequent long-term children’s disease.
- Hispanic children are 60 percent more likely to have asthma compared to non-Latino whites, and Latinos are three times more likely to die from asthma.
- Of the top 10 most polluted cities in the country, six of them have populations that are 40 percent or more Latino.
- In total, 66 percent of Latinos live in areas where the air is not up to the federal government’s safe air quality standards.
However, there is good news: Latinos are not only the nation’s largest minority group and the fastest growing population segment—standing more than 50 million strong in the U.S.—but nine out of 10 Latinos want the federal government to take action on carbon emissions and the threat of climate change.
Report after report confirms that Latinos know limiting carbon pollution is critical to protecting the health of our families and communities. These reports also confirm what all Latinos know—that protecting our land, air and water are more than a policy priority, they are a core moral value.
Tell the world how asthma feels to you and how pollution is affecting your community. Tweet #AsthmaFeelsLike and visit asthmafeelslike.org.
Irene Vilar was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Her memoir “The Ladies’ Gallery” was a Philadelphia Inquirer and Detroit Free Press Notable Book of the Year and was a finalist for the 1999 Mind Book of the Year award. Her latest memoir, “Impossible Motherhood,” won the 2010 IPPY Gold Medal for Best Memoir/Autobiography and the 12th Latino Book 2nd Place Award for Best Women’s Issues. Both memoirs explore generational and national trauma.
A 2010 Guggenheim Fellow, Vilar gave the keynote address on Latino mental health at the 2010 National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. Vilar is also a participant in the Oxford Union debate society, debating reproductive health and abortion rights.
Irene Vilar is the founder of The Americas for Conservation and the Arts, the mother organization of The Americas Latino Festival and the first nonprofit literary agency in the U.S., Vilar Creative Agency, dedicated to the dissemination of minority literature of the Americas.
Established in 1989, Earthjustice's Policy & Legislation team works with champions in Congress to craft legislation that supports and extends our legal gains.