Biden Administration: One Year Advancing Climate Action for Latino Communities

For four years, the Trump Administration stripped the United States of its climate leadership and credibility by reversing nearly 100 environmental rules and repeatedly mischaracterizing climate change as a “hoax”. Over that time the country lost its climate voice, but in 2020 millions of Latino voters came out and demanded a change. Tired of being at the forefront of the impacts of climate change and environmental injustices, Latinos elected President Biden to put our country back on the right track, which he is fighting for through the historic Build Back Better Act that is being debated in the Senate. There is still a long way to go, but here is a summary of how the Biden Administration is delivering on its promise of climate action and environmental justice during its first year in office.

  • From the suffocating temperatures and toxic air pollution in Latino neighborhoods to the disproportionate levels of asthma and lead poisoning faced by Latino children. Latinos are a frontline community that has been carrying the burden of environmental injustice for decades.
    • Biden has made advancing environmental justice and economic opportunity for disadvantaged communities his priority through the Justice40 Initiative and the Justice40 Pilot Program.
      • The pilot program identifies 21 priority programs to immediately begin enhancing benefits for disadvantaged communities, while also serving as guidance for other agencies to implement the Justice40 Initiative across government.
    • $1 billion investment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will allow the EPA to initiate cleanup and clear the backlog of 49 previously unfunded Superfund sites and accelerate cleanup at dozens of other sites across the country.
      • Approximately 60% of the sites to receive funding for new cleanup projects are in historically underserved communities.
    • Biden is putting people to work addressing long standing environmental injustice. The Build Back Better Act’s Civilian Climate Corps will deploy people across the country to build a healthier, more stable environment in our communities and public lands.
  • Extreme weather hits Latinos in a disproportionate way. A poll conducted by Climate Power and BSP research showed that 74% of Latinos believe climate change is a very serious problem, with 79% saying it is getting worse.
    • Biden freed up roughly $8 billion in disaster relief funding for Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
    • Biden announced $1 billion in grants to fund infrastructure projects that can demonstrate improvements to racial equity, reduce impacts of climate change and create good-paying jobs.
  • Biden made it his goal to build a clean energy economy that will help Latinos by creating good-paying jobs and lowering the energy bills that overburden Latino families. Federal agencies announced clean energy projects and plans that demonstrate the Administration’s unwavering commitment to creating cleaner and cheaper energy.
    • The Department of the Interior is holding a record-breaking offshore wind lease sale off the coasts of New York and New Jersey. The development of offshore wind could result in the creation of as many as 80,000 new jobs in the sector by 2030.
    • The Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Defense, Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency are forming a new collaboration to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of reviews of clean energy projects on public lands. This will help expand solar, onshore wind, and geothermal energy.
    • To ensure that clean energy benefits reach all Americans, the Department of Agriculture is creating a new pilot program to support clean energy in underserved rural communities.
  • Latinos are heavily impacted by the fossil fuel industry’s pollution, while receiving almost no employment or economic benefits from these facilities. 1.81 million Latinos live within half a mile of existing oil and gas facilities. As a result, many Latino communities face an elevated risk of cancer due to air toxics emissions from oil and gas development. Nearly 1.78 million Latinos live in counties that face a cancer risk above EPA’s level of concern from toxins emitted by oil and gas facilities.
    • Biden directed agencies to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.
    • Biden joined the Zero Emission Vehicle Transition Council, a coalition of governments representing more than half of new vehicle sales globally that is dedicated to accelerating the global transition to zero emission vehicles.
    • Biden announced $35 billion in funding to develop technologies to reduce methane emissions in the oil, gas and coal industries through an ARPA-E program called REMEDY (Reducing Emissions of Methane Every Day of the Year).

During President’s Biden’s first year, the concerns about climate change and the solutions to stop it were at the forefront of people’s minds more than ever before. President Biden is moving the most ambitious agenda to address the climate crisis in our nation’s history in response to a clear cry for action from the American people. While there are still more promises to be kept, action on this issue continues even as he is up against a Congress almost evenly split between democrats who want to stop this crisis and republicans who do not. One year later, our planet is in a better place than it was before, and more is yet to come to benefit our health, our communities, and our economy.