This morning I participated in a press telebriefing about the impacts of air pollution on Latino communities and just how serious proposals to weaken EPA will be to vulnerable populations. The briefing was hosted by the Center for American Progress which today released a report today that shows Latinos will bear the brunt of the consequences if Congress limits EPA's power to keep our air clean.
The report, Why the EPA Is Important for Latino Families, reminds us of the troubling reality we've talked about before: A great number of Latinos live in areas that have very bad air quality. And while air pollution does not discriminate, sadly, Latinos are three times as likely to die of asthma as white non-Hispanics.
CAP's report is an important reminder that measures to stop EPA from going forward with new rules to limit such emissions will have very serious impacts on millions of people. Rather than recognize this, we're caught in a political debate over whether or not protecting human health is a worthy cause. It also makes us wonder if any of the proponents of these toxic measures care about the health of their families or their future generations. After all, this type of pollution doesn't go away -- when you're talking about carbon pollutants especially. As my colleague David Hawkins put it: these actions would condemn generations to the additional damage caused by pollution than can and must be avoided.
CAP Associate and Voces Verdes Advisory Board member, Jorge Madrid wrote the report with Valeri Vasquez, a special assistant for the group's energy team. The report takes a fresh look at the impacts of air pollution on Latinos and the fact that "[d]irty air and water mean more visits to the emergency room, more missed days of work and school, and more cases of dangerous and expensive health issues."
The Latino community, they conclude, "should demand a strong EPA that can protect them from polluters and help ensure clean air and water for future generations."
I couldn't agree more.