New Poll: U.S. Latino Communities Overwhelmingly Support Clean Air Protections

latinopollPoliticians and political observers are increasing the amount of time spent trying to figure out how to engage with Latino voters – a large and growing part of the American electorate. Issues such as immigration reform usually dominate the discussion nationally, but a new poll from the national polling firm Latino Decisions shows that clean water and healthy air are also of utmost importance for Latinos.

According to their poll 85% of those surveyed found reducing smog and air pollution to be extremely or very important, compared to 80 percent for comprehensive immigration reform.

This comes as no surprise to those of us that are rooted in this community where issues of the health of our communities and families are often top-of-mind around the dinner table.  In reality, it also comes as no surprise to decision makers who have listened to our communities, and know Latinos have rich ties to the outdoors, but are too often the first and worst impacted by pollution.

As Gary Segura, co-founder of Latino Decisions, recently told NPR:

"A lot of Latino households in the United States are in locations that are adversely affected by particulate pollution, by poor water quality. So quality of life, direct exposure to environmental hazards is quite common among the Latino population; we shouldn't be surprised they're concerned about it."

Luckily, several efforts are now in the works and will have significant positive impacts for Latino communities and the air they breathe. Efforts like the recently announced EPA methane rule, the Clean Power Plan, and the coming revision to ozone standards will all have positive impacts on air quality nationwide.  These rules are especially important for Latinos, as nearly half the Latinos living in the United States lives in an area with unhealthy air quality.

My home state of New Mexico serves as one example. The state  is simultaneously home to a significant Hispanic population, experiencing expanding oil and gas development, and unfortunately in areas like the San Juan Basin, also experiencing unhealthy levels of ozone pollution.  This same overlap between polluted air and Latino and Hispanic communities can be found again and again in many places including California and Colorado, as well as the Eagle Ford region in Texas.  These areas stand to see significant reductions in oil and gas related air pollution under the new EPA methane rules and anticipated ozone standards.

These common sense, health based standards make sense for Latinos and for all Americans.  Please take a moment to thank EPA for these life-saving efforts to clean up our air.

Photo Source: Earth Justice

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