By Eric Galatas – Colorado News Connection
DENVER — Latino voters, regardless of partisan differences, support legislation that makes real and lasting climate progress while also growing the economy, according to a new poll from Latino Decisions and Environmental Defense Fund Action.
Scientists have warned time is running out to change course to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, but Esther Sosa, diverse partners project manager with Environmental Defense Action Fund, said too often the focus has been on saving starving polar bears on melting icebergs.
The group’s new poll finds Colorado’s Latino residents — from communities located disproportionately in the shadows of refineries and coal-fired power plants — support policies to reduce pollution by switching to clean energy sources.
“We don’t talk enough about the people whose health and quality of life are harmed,” Sosa said. “The poll found that Latino voters understand the connection between a clean environment and their health.”
The poll says across the political spectrum, more than 90% of Colorado Latino voters want drinking water to be protected from contamination, and 82% want environmental protections reinstated that were rolled back under the Trump administration.
While the administration took steps to prevent job loss in the fossil-fuel sector, nearly 8 in 10 Latino voters want the next president and Congress to jump-start the post-COVID economy through long-term investments in clean energy, including wind and solar.
Latinos earning less than $50,000 a year who lost jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic are more likely to support investments in clean-energy jobs. Sosa said Latino voters understand communities that have long relied on the fossil-fuel sector for good-paying jobs need other options.
“They are not 21st-century jobs, they are 20th-century jobs. And the investments that we make now will determine how resilient these communities will be in the long term,” she said.
Sosa said the poll contradicts long-held assumptions that working-class communities of color aren’t interested in environmental issues. She said it also confirms that communities forced to live in areas subject to air and water pollution, through redlining and other policies, care deeply about the environment and are concerned about further exposure to the worst impacts of climate change.