Let the folks in Washington DC know that we need a better balance when planning for the future of American lands in the West.
Latinos across the country are asking federal agencies and managing authorities to prioritize recreation, health and conservation as they endeavor to fulfill national energy needs.
Historically, fuel infrastructure like refineries for oil, have been centered in largely low-income communities of color. Because of this, Latinos have disproportionally suffered from asthma, cancer, and other pollution-related illnesses stemming from America’s dependence on fossil fuels. Adding to the problem, new fossil fuel energy development efforts like hydraulic fracturing continue to center around economically disadvantaged areas, crowding out clean and renewable energy development options.
In the West, where energy development is rapidly increasing, the problem is compounded by the threat that energy extraction can present to public lands and water resources. At a time when contamination in California water forces families to spend their hard-earned money on bottled water, for example, public health and water rights should be strong considerations of energy development plans in the west.
Latinos are calling on President Obama, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and state and local authorities to develop balanced approaches to protecting public lands, wildlife, clean air and clean water when working to meet our nation’s energy needs. The wellbeing of the land and people should drive energy development in our country. We are hopeful that an inclusive planning process – one that acknowledges the history and traditions of Latinos in America – will ensure a smarter, more comprehensive approach.