Today leaders representing the over 55 million Latinos living in the United States sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy demonstrating their support for the agency’s proposal to limit methane pollution from the oil and gas industry.
Methane is a potent climate change pollutant, and the oil and gas sector is its leading industrial source in the United States. More than half of the warming in the next couple of decades due to current emissions will be from methane and other short-lived climate pollutants. Because Latinos often work in outdoor industries such as construction and agriculture, they are especially prone to the impacts of climate change.
The 18 individuals and groups who signed this letter represent diverse leaders in the Latino community. “We hope that Administrator McCarthy and the White House will heed the call from this impressive coalition made of public health leaders, university officials, parent coalitions and others, and finalize strong common sense, cost-effective safeguards to cut methane and other air pollution for the sake of our families and all Americans,” said Lucia Oliva Hennelly, Campaign Manager, New Climate Partnerships at Environmental Defense Fund.
Oil and gas methane pollution comes bottled up with smog forming chemicals which can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory problems. This is of high concern to Latinos who already have higher rates of asthma than the overall population, and where one out of two Latinos lives in counties that violate the nation’s health-based smog pollution standards.
As the oil and gas industry continues to expand across the U.S., especially in states with large Latino populations like Texas, Colorado and New Mexico, the industry’s pollution threatens to further exacerbate poor air quality. Rising temperatures as a result of climate change can also increase pollen and other allergens, which then further trigger respiratory illnesses.
The letter sent today to Administrator McCarthy represents the interests of Latinos around the country: A July 2015 poll found that overwhelming majorities of Latinos support America’s leaders reducing air pollution as well as addressing climate change.
Latino leaders who signed the letter urged EPA to not only finalize the current proposal targeting new oil and gas operations, but move swiftly to address methane pollution from existing operations. “As Latino leaders we know this EPA rule is an important step, but to achieve the country’s methane reduction goal and to improve our health and climate we ask the Obama administration to address pollution from equipment on the ground right now,” said Analisa Freitas, Project Coordinator, Voces Verdes.
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