Americans & Latino Americans to Tea Party: We Want our EPA
By Adrianna Quintero Most, if not all of us, are applauding the fact that after a 16-day standoff, lawmakers were able to come to an agreement that puts the government back to work. While the devil may be in the details, and concessions were made on both sides, the importance of knowing that our country can meet its debt obligations and keep the government running cannot be overstated. While it's not surprising that most Americans opposed the government shutdown, what is encouraging is that most Americans recognized the government shutdown's grim impact of blocking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from doing its job. According to a new PPP Poll commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council released today, two-thirds of Americans say they opposed the near shutdown of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and they wanted the EPA back on the job protecting our health and the environment. Many on the far right have chosen to ignore the fact that most Americans recognize EPA as a guardian for our environment and health. When asked how they felt about the shutdown forcing EPA inspectors off the job, suspending cleanup of toxic dumps, and delaying work on climate change, a large majority of Americans opposed this work being stopped. And this is true nationally, among Latinos, in key states, in districts represented by once-moderate House Republicans who have changed their positions to support the Tea Party's agenda -- and even in House Speaker John Boehner's home district. The PPP survey demonstrates just how out of touch lawmakers are with their constituents. As taxpayers, we are all counting on the government to do its job by funding the key agencies that protect us from poor air quality, ensures our families have clean water to drink, and healthy communities. This survey also echoed findings of previous polls again highlighting how deeply Latinos care about the environment. Though often viewed as single issue voters, this survey again disproves this assertion finding that 73 percent of Latinos nationwide recognize just how critical the EPA's work is and oppose a shutdown that prevents EPA employees from doing their jobs -- support higher than that of non-Latino respondents. Latinos also continue to be very supportive of taking action to stop the carbon pollution that causes climate change with 68 percent of Latinos opposing a shutdown that interferes with taking action steps to reduce air pollution and control climate change. Latinos are counting on the government to do its job and more than 72 percent oppose the rhetoric from extreme right voices calling to keep EPA closed. Those in the extreme factions of the GOP should take note: The president's net-approval rating is 27 points stronger among Latinos than the country as a whole. Latinos want the government to protect our environment and 71 percent of their Latino constituents say they would have a less favorable view about elected officials who say it's a good thing to eliminate the critical work that EPA does in protecting our health and fighting climate change. As NRDC President, Frances Beinecke stated, "People who care about health and the environment must be vigilant in the coming months. We have to let lawmakers know how much we value government programs that safeguard the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the places we love." This poll demonstrates that Americans are ready to stand up for the agency that does just that: We want our EPA. Adrianna Quintero is a Senior Attorney and the Founder/Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Latino Advocacy program, “La Onda Verde.” La Onda Verde is designed to provide Latinos nationwide with bilingual access to environmental information and the tools with which to get involved. Adrianna has been a litigator with NRDC’s environmental health program, where she specialized in public health issues surrounding safe drinking water, bottled water, pesticides and toxic air pollution. Adrianna is also the Founder of Voces Verdes, a national coalition that connects Latino business and community leaders with government decision-makers bringing their leadership to bear on environmental issues. This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post.