California’s November election is a battleground for clean air and clean energy – and Latinos are on the front lines. CAP’s Jorge Madrid has the story.
This week a broad spectrum of Latino voices mobilized against Props 23 and 26. These two ballot initiatives, financed by Texas oil money, would threaten California’s landmark clean energy and climate laws – and make it easier for the worse polluters in the state to continue their dirty business.
The week kicked off with a joint press conference from the Green Jobs Bus Tour and Californians to Stop the Dirty Energy Proposition (watch the video here). Latino speakers ranged from a clean energy investment manager, medical experts, labor leaders, and the CEO of a green furniture company:
“There is a very big component to the No on 23 campaign… the Latino community. Poor environmental regulation and insensitive urban land use planning has a tremendous effect on our communities health…The next chapter is to translate all of these regulation and protections into economic development and green jobs,” said Tom Soto, co-founder of Craton Equity Partners.
“A lot of people think that ‘going green’ is a fad…We need to remember that green equals life,” said Dr. Luis Pacheco, Director of the California Medical Center.
Following up the event was another joint press conference organized by the BlueGrenn Alliance, a national partnership between labor and environmental advocates, and the National Latino Coalition on Climate Change. Speakers urged Californian’s to vote no on the dirty energy propositions and touted the economic and public health benefits of California’s clean air and clean energy law (AB 32). The event was held in both English and Spanish. (Listen to audio here).
“The solution to global warming can create jobs while ensuring the health of the people. Prop. 23 is bad for us, bad for our children, and bad for our communities… [The out-of-state oil companies] are only interested in protecting their profits at the expense of communities,” said Eliseo Medina International Secretary-Treasurer, Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
Rounding out the week was the release of an open letter to all Californians, in which dozens of Latino organizations and leaders urged voters to oppose propositions 23 and 26. The effort was organized by Voces Verdes (green voices), a coalition of Latino business and community leaders who support sustainable environmental progress.
“We cannot afford to sacrifice our children’s health, our jobs and our welfare to enrich polluters. California must remain a leader and Latinos must ensure this by voting No on Props 23 and 26.”
Signers included State Assembly members, university professors, public health officials, and celebrated Latino actor, Edward James Olmos, who also recorded a video message against the dirty energy propositions.
Latinos Are Green Allies
This week’s surge in Latino support for clean energy, green jobs, and climate protection showcases what many advocates have already been promoting: Latinos are allies in the fight against climate change and the march toward a cleaner economy.
Latinos are the fastest growing demographic in the country, with 48.4 million residents, and comprising almost 10 percent of the total U.S. voting population. Latinos “exhibit the largest registration and voting growth rates of any group in the U.S.” according to a new report by National Council of La Raza (NCLR). A full one-third of all Latinos in the country are under the age of 18, and as CEO of NCLR, Janet Murguia reports, “a half million Latinos turn 18 every year.”
The numbers in California are even more striking: with more than 14 million Latinos residing in the state, accounting for 37 percent of the state’s population, and 25 percent of the electorate.
The parallel growth of the Latino electorate, and their strong support for clean energy and climate protection, suggest a winning strategy for the green movement. The first battle is taking place in California, and in the absence of federal policy much of the fight will occur in individual states. If Latino voters can be activated for the green movement, victory can follow.