Latino Leaders to Washington: Protect Our Right to Breathe Clean Air
By Adrianna Quintero, Jorge Madrid, and Elsa Ramirez, Voces Verdes Board Members As thousands of Latino children cough and wheeze from toxic pollution and smog in our air, Latino business, medical professionals, and community leaders nationwide have joined a major campaign calling on Washington policymakers to protect all Americans from dangerous air pollution. Nearly one of every two Latinos live in areas where breathing is unhealthy and even deadly, according to a new report, Latinos and Air Pollution: A Call to Action, released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the National Latino Coalition on Climate Change (NLCCC), Center for American Progress (CAP), and National Wildlife Federation (NWF). This report comes on the heels of a shocking announcement from President Obama, blocking his own administration from adopting stronger smog standards that would have saved thousands of lives. Scientists have known for decades that air pollution is linked to serious health effects, including asthma, bronchitis, lung and heart disease, developmental disorders, and increased mortality. Ignoring facts and science, the Tea Party and others in Congress--backed by Big Oil and Big Coal--have declared all-out war on the Clean Air Act. Their goal? Stop the government from doing its job to protect us from deadly air pollution. The targets of these polluter-funded attacks are important air standards that would save thousands of lives and billions of dollars in health care costs. As our colleague Lillian Rodriguez-Lopez, President of the Hispanic Federation and vice-chair of the National Latino Coalition on Climate Change (NLCCC) emphasized, for the "medically uninsured and underinsured, air pollution can have devastating consequences on the health and stability of our families." A dirty economy is an inefficient economy, spewing waste and harmful pollution that makes our communities sick and results in additional unforeseen medical costs and lost work hours. Latinos want clean air and a strong economy, and as the fastest growing group of voters in the U.S., we need to know our leaders in Washington are fighting to protect our health and grow jobs--these two things are not mutually exclusive. Our co-author on the report, Andrea Delgado, National Latino Coalition on Climate Change (NLCCC) Fellow and Senior Policy Analyst at the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) puts it well: "The choice is clear. We can clean up our air and protect millions of people from respiratory disease or let our inaction undermine the health and economic security of our communities." With 12.2 million Latinos projected to vote in 2012, candidates will surely make countless promises to the Hispanic community in the coming months and it's time that their promises meant something--real protections for the health of Latino families, and for all Americans. That's why we at Voces Verdes are joining the Clean Air Promise Campaign. The campaign calls on elected officials with one simple question: "With so many lives at stake, will you promise to protect clean air?" Voces Verdes has called on President Obama to protect our families and our bottom lines. Sadly, even the president has wavered so now we are urging Latino groups and individuals nationwide to join the Promise Campaign and call on elected officials to put people before polluters. The Clean Air Promise Campaign gives government leaders the chance to pledge to create a healthier, more prosperous future for our children. For more information, visit: http://cleanairpromise.org. Lee este blog en espanol.