Rep. Luján Hosts Briefing that Highlights Latino Support to Combat Climate Change and NRDC Carbon Pollution Solution

WASHINGTON (February 27, 2013) –Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico hosted a Capitol Hill briefing today designed to offer solutions to climate change that featured a proposal by the Natural Resources Defense Council, and discussed a new poll showing that Latinos strongly support taking action against climate change.

Rep. Luján convened the briefing for Members of Congress, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, policy staffers, and Latino organizations concerned about climate change. From extreme storms to drought, wildfires and floods, climate change is increasingly affecting agriculture, water supplies, public safety, and health.

“Whether it’s farmers and ranchers in my home state of New Mexico who are struggling through devastating drought conditions, or communities that are rebuilding in the wake of Super Storm Sandy, millions of Americans have been impacted by the effects of climate change,” Rep. Luján said. “This important issue cannot be ignored. It is time for Congress to have a serious discussion on policy options to address this growing threat, and today’s discussion provided an opportunity to hear from some of the leading experts.”

The briefing included members of the National Latino Coalition on Climate Change and Voces Verdes, an umbrella Latino green leadership organization that has helped organize Latinos’ call to action on climate change.

Adrianna Quintero, director of Voces Verdes, presented details from a new poll commissioned for the organization that found that three out of four Latinos believe that climate change is a serious problem and that a substantial majority support President Obama using his authority to reduce industrial carbon pollution, a key driver of climate change.

“These poll findings clearly show that President Obama speaks for Latinos on climate and clean energy issues,” Quintero said. “The best way to strike back is to reduce  dangerous carbon pollution from our dirtiest power plants, the single largest threat to our climate’s future. Latinos are counting on bold action and leadership– for the sake of all of America’s children.”

In his recent State of the Union address, the president called on Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change soon. But if Congress doesn’t act, he said, he will.

At today’s briefing, Daniel Lashof, director of NRDC’s Climate and Clean Air program, outlined how the president can use existing authority under the Clean Air Act to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants by 26 percent by 2020, provide jobs to thousands of Americans, and save families up to $700 a year in electricity bills.

Under a proposal offered by NRDC, the Environmental Protection Agency would set state-specific carbon limits tied to states’ energy mix; power companies would choose the most cost-effective means to reach the target; and that would drive investment in energy efficiency. Every dollar invested in cutting carbon would deliver $15 in benefits through reduced energy costs and fewer asthma attacks, heart attacks and respiratory ailments.

“The president can get big pollution reductions at a low cost with a fair and flexible plan that brings together states and electricity providers to clean up old power plants, reduces the impact of climate change, and makes Americans healthier,” said Lashof. “Climate change is here, and as a nation we need to protect ourselves soon from its ravages and its rising costs.”

Rep. Luján, a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, will continue to explore a range of policy ideas to address climate change from emission reduction to energy efficiency.

“In the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy and one of the worst wildfires seasons the Western United States has ever seen, it’s time for Congress to work together on common-sense solutions that will allow us to use power in a smarter manner, produce clean and abundant renewable energy, and reduce emission through energy efficiency,” Luján added.

For more on the poll concerning Latino views on climate change, click here:

 For more on NRDC’s proposal, click here: