In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, SACE will be posting a series of blogs highlighting issues that impact Latino communities throughout the Southeast. This is the third blog in this series.
Polling has consistently shown that Latino and Hispanic voters support action to combat climate change. Polling conducted by Latino Decisions, in partnership with Earthjustice and GreenLatinos, found that Latinos, more than other Americans, see climate change as a consequence of human activity – with almost two-thirds accepting anthropogenic explanations of climate change.
That same polling also showed that many Latinos are willing to put their money where their mouth is, accepting anywhere from a $5 – $10 increase in monthly utility bills to help hasten the transition to clean, renewable energy sources. Most notably, Latino Decisions’ polling found that the majority of those polled do not accept the argument that environmental improvements come at the cost of a decreasing job market – 59 percent believe renewable energy and environmental reform is good for economic opportunity and job growth.
It shouldn’t come as too big of a shock that Hispanic and Latino voters are concerned about the environment and want to work to address climate change and other environmental threats. The National Hispanic Medical Association found that Hispanics are disproportionately impacted by air pollution, in part because many families live in or near high-traffic, poor air quality urban areas.
In their lifetime, Latinos are three times more likely to die from asthma than other racial or ethnic groups. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost a quarter of low-income Hispanic and Puerto Rican children in the United States have been diagnosed with asthma compared to 1 in 13 middle-class or wealthy white children.
More recent polling by Latino Decisions, focused on Florida, found that 76 percent of registered Latino voters living in the state strongly support national clean energy standards. 81 percent of those polled were in favor of developing clean energy resources, a statistic that may be a result of the 66 percent who say they are already directly experiencing the effects of human-caused climate change in Florida. Much of this support is still based on the legitimate fears around the growing threat poor air quality poses to communities’ health – the majority of those polled see air pollution as a serious threat to their families.
As states begin to work on crafting state compliance plans for the Clean Power Plan, it will be important for states to engage with Hispanic and Latino communities to ensure that their voices are heard when states are deciding whether or not to rely on clean energy resources as a primary compliance tool.