ICYMI: Conversation with Congressman Grijalva and other Latino Policy Leaders on How Climate Action is a Priority for Latino Voters

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Climate Power held an open conversation with Chairman Raúl Grijalva, Sierra Club President Ramon Cruz, Data for Progress Lead Climate Strategist Danielle Deiseroth and moderator CardenasStrategies LLC President Vanessa Cardenas, to discuss how climate action and the clean energy transition have become a priority for Latino voters. Like the rest of the country, Latinos are struggling with the climate crisis, from working under the sun during extreme heat days to historic hurricanes, flooding, extreme drought, and climate fires. This issue has taken a leading role in thinking about the future and well-being of their families. This comes on top of the environmental injustice the community has experienced for decades, exposed to deadly levels of pollution coming from oil and gas industries placed at the heart of Latino neighborhoods.

This event was an opportunity to have an open and dynamic conservation with Latino climate leaders in Congress to better understand how environmental justice, climate action, prosperity, and clean energy are impacting Latinos in their communities and nationally.

Vanessa Cardenas, President of CardenasStrategies LLC opened the event, highlighting: “We have heard a lot about the Latino vote, who they are going to vote for and what is going to motivate them. While a lot of emphasis is placed on issues like immigration… one of the issues that goes under reported when it comes to this community is about their support for climate action and climate change. Latinos are one of the first to feel the impacts of climate change and one of the reasons they are supportive of action is because they are suffering the consequences and therefore they are supportive of legislation that would address some of these challenges.”

Below are some highlights from the event. You can find a recording of the event here.

Danielle Deiseroth, Lead Climate Strategist Data for Progress, underlined:

  • “Climate Change across all voters is growing to be a very critical issue that they are experiencing in their own lives now. That is especially true for Latino voters. For Latinos climate change is a personal issue. It is not only directly impacting the health and well-being of their families here in America but also the lives of their friends and their families abroad.”

  • “Data for Progress has been tracking concern around extreme weather, climate change and pollution since January of this year and we find that 92% of Latinos are at least a little concerned about climate change, 94% are at least a little concerned about air and water pollution… And the Pew Research Center has very similar findings that Hispanics are more likely to cite climate change as a personal top concern to them, as compared to non-Hispanic voters.”

Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Congressman Raúl Grijalva, emphasized that:

  • “We are dealing with a different phenomenon right now and that is delay and avoidance… We have tasks ahead that are going to be difficult, the transition. We should be focusing on policy and investment strategies so that we leave no one behind but also accelerate in the transition. That is going to be key for the communities we are talking about here today and key for the whole fight on climate.”

  • “We need to talk about the real life situation of people… and the focus on the young children. The generational importance of what we are dealing with right now. I think that our community or any community responds to that very well, understanding the legacy that you are trying to turn over. For me as a first generation American, the legacy is: your life is going to be better than mine. And now with Latino communities and communities of color who see that opportunity closing in on, I think that is very, very powerful…. The young and children. It ties our community. It always has and it always will, with that sense that their lives maybe are not going to be better than mine. That’s the question that we never ask, that is very difficult for us to ask because that is the whole point of it. ¿Vas a dejar algo mejor?”

Ramon Cruz, President of the Sierra Club,  highlighted that:

  • “A mandate for the environment and environmental justice for us is a no-brainer in this day in age, we are not only facing the most threatening crisis that humanity has ever lived through but also because it makes good economic sense to remain competitive, why betting so much on technologies from two centuries ago like coal, and be ahead of the game in the economy of the future, of this century, that is a clean economy.”

  • “From the IPCC report it was very clear that we have basically no time to work on this and that we have had for many decades now the knowledge, we have the technology , even the funding. What we lack is political will and corporate responsibility especially from the oil companies.”

Congresswoman Nanette Barragán, shared the following:

  • “Latinos face a climate and public health crisis on a daily basis as climate change continues to impact our communities. We are hit first and worst by the health related impacts of extreme weather, such as unprecedented wildfires, and longer and more intense heat waves and droughts in the West that grow worse every summer. Our communities disproportionately live near oil and gas facilities in greater numbers and bear the burden of increased asthma attacks and cancer risk.”

  • “We need unprecedented investments in clean energy and zero emissions transportation that create good paying, union jobs while reducing the air pollution that harms Latinos’ public health. The climate and environmental justice investments in the House-passed Build Back Better Act can make a meaningful difference in our  communities. It’s critical for the Senate to reach a reconciliation agreement this spring that includes these.”

Senator Alex Padilla, commented:

  • “We know that the climate crisis disproportionately impacts Latinos and other communities of color who work and live near sources of pollution like industrial and hazardous waste facilities, fossil fuel infrastructure, and transportation corridors. I’ve lived these environmental injustices firsthand, growing up with toxic air pollution from a nearby landfill in the San Fernando Valley. I am committed to ensuring that we address these inequities by supporting meaningful investments to tackle climate change head on and uplift Latino communities in California and across the country.”

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, commented:

  • “The disproportionate impacts of climate change on the Latino community have existed as long as the climate crisis has been a scientific concern. Like many economically disadvantaged, minority communities, we’ve been an afterthought at best, test cases at worst,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “We need to have – or make- seats at the decision-making table to ensure we not only advocate for ourselves but remain leaders of the conversation; our communities are counting on it.”