This commentary originally appeared on EDF's Voices Blog.
This post was co-authored by Lucía Hennelly, with contributions from Adrian Shelley, Executive Director of Air Alliance Houston.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Presidential Executive Order calling for Federal Actions To Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, which prompts us to ask: What would the environmental movement in the United States look like if there were genuine cross-pollination, collaboration, and feedback between large, national-scale organizations and locally-based, environmental justice organizations?
Last week, we at EDF had a chance to experience a small glimpse of what this would be like when we delivered comments at EPA’s public hearing on new carbon pollution limits for new power plants alongside other Latino representatives and environmental activists. Among these activists was Adrian Shelley, Executive Director of Air Alliance Houston.
Air Alliance Houston (AAH) is the region’s leading air quality and public health non-profit, working in the most diverse city in the United States. With a population that is more than one-third Latino, Houston is a majority-minority city seated in Harris County, the fastest-growing county in the country. It’s also ground zero for the environmental justice movement. The distribution of health risks is unequal, as air pollutants that pose a definite risk to human health are found in greater numbers in several East Houston neighborhoods adjacent to the Houston Ship Channel. Read More
Source: Mom's Clean Air Force
Your abuela or your friend’s abuela may not mention “carbon pollution” or “greenhouse gas emissions” much, but don’t let that fool you into thinking Hispanics are not aware of or unconcerned with what is happening to our planet. In fact, polling confirms that Latinos overwhelmingly support action to curb climate change. A recent poll for the Natural Resources Defense Council by Latino Decisions shows that 80 percent of Latino voters somewhat-to-strongly favor Presidential action to fight carbon pollution.
Why? Family values.
The reasons are similar to those held by many interested in protecting the planet for future generations. The poll proves that Latinos are concerned about air quality, health effects of a worsening environment and teaching a cultural legacy of environmental stewardship and conservation. Read More
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How The Hispanic Business Community Can Play An Active Role In Reducing Emissions From Freight
The success of Texas has long been linked to the success of Hispanics. Today, nearly 40% of Texans are Hispanic. As the Hispanic community continues to shape the future of Texas (nearly 50 percent of our state’s youth is Hispanic), EDF is paying close attention to the ongoing air quality and public health challenges facing Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and other areas with significant Hispanic populations. Nationwide, one in every two Hispanics lives in a county that frequently violates health-based ozone standards (see U.S. Latinos and Air Pollution). This means that Hispanics, especially those within sensitive subpopulations, such as children and the elderly, are at greater risk of public health effects, such as asthma, lung cancer, stroke and premature death due to increased exposure to harmful air pollution.
There is good news though! Hispanic businesses can make a significant difference in reducing air pollution through their logistics and freight transportation operations in key hubs, such as Houston. Last month, I attended the International Summit & Business Expo, hosted by the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. At the conference, we met with representatives of several companies who are eager to grow their businesses in the Houston area and the rest of the state. Additionally, we discussed how they can play a leading role in reducing the health burden for Hispanics and all Houstonians by supporting clean air initiatives, such as participating in the Houston regional clean truck program, signing up for the SmartWay Drayage Program and setting efficiency and emissions reductions goals.
EDF has a track record of working with companies and organizations to reduce emissions from freight transportation, and we look forward to engaging new partners on our collaborative effort to ensure healthy air for our communities and a thriving business environment.