Congresswoman Linda Sánchez represents California’s 38th Congressional District. On July 29th she testified before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to highlight the disproportionate impact that pollution has on Latino communities. The hearing was held to discuss the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which offers tremendous benefits. Here are excerpts of her remarks:
Thank you for the opportunity to testify about the importance of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. I am here to lend a voice to the minority communities across our country whose health and livelihood are affected by poor environmental conditions.
As a lawmaker, environmentalist, and most importantly, as a mother, I am here to advocate on behalf of the full implementation of the Clean Power Plan.
I understand the urgency associated with combating sources of pollution that are contributing to climate change and posing serious health risks to our general population.
As the representative of a district with large Latino and Asian American communities, my constituents stand to lose the most if we fail to implement the plan’s carbon reduction guidelines.
Thirty-one percent of Latinos live within 30 miles of a power plant. Equally alarming is the fact that Latinos are also 165% more likely to live in counties with unhealthy levels of particulate matter pollution.
The consequences of these environmental conditions are evident in the high rates of asthma among Latino community. Today, over 3.6 million Latinos in the U.S. suffer from asthma, including one in ten Latino children.
As a mother, these numbers are unacceptable and they underscore the need for a commonsense plan to reduce carbon pollution, especially from high producing sources such as power plants.
In the United States today, power plants are the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions and they produce one-third of all domestic greenhouse emissions. Despite these staggering statistics, carbon pollution from power plants is currently not regulated. Regulating their carbon output would help reduce pollutants that contribute to the soot and smog that make people sick.
I am here to declare that we can no longer afford to wait to act on climate change. I want a safe and secure future for my son, and I think millions of parents across the country would agree with me.
As government officials, we are tasked with promoting the well-being of our citizens and I know we can do more to address the health risks associated with carbon pollution.
The Clean Power Plan is a serious step toward protecting Americans from the consequences of climate change. It clearly outlines the changes that must be made in order to limit the health and economic costs associated with carbon pollution.
If implemented, the Clean Power Plan would help cut pollution by 30% from 2005 levels and result in $55-93 billion in health and climate benefits.
I know this change is possible. My home state of California has already implemented many of the guidelines proposed by the EPA and the facts speak for themselves—California has the 4th lowest carbon emissions in the nation, and our electric bills are 25% below average.
The benefits are significant, but the costs of not acting are much greater.
On behalf of our country, my constituents, and the 28 million Hispanics living in areas with unhealthy levels of ozone, I urge you to fully implement the Clean Power Plan.
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