In a joint letter to Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler, led by GreenLatinos and Hispanic Access Foundation, 23 Latino organizations urged the EPA to stop its harmful rollback of the New Source Performance Standards – commonsense methane pollution protections finalized in 2016 that limit the release of toxic air pollution from oil and gas operations.
In the letter, signers affirm the important role that federal methane limits play in protecting the health of vulnerable communities of color and helping combat climate change. The current standards help protect them and other vulnerable communitiesthat face disproportionate impacts of climate change and poor air quality from oil and gas operations.
“We know there are readily available and cost-effective solutions to cut toxic air pollution from oil and gas developments that protect our health but also mitigate the impacts of climate change on Latinxs and all Americans. Gutting these protections is a step in the wrong direction. Acting Administrator Wheeler must carry out his agency’s mission to protect Americans’ public health and leave in place current federal methane standards that are already working,” said GreenLatinos CEO Mark Magaña.
The letter emphasizes how the U.S. Latino community is particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of methane pollution: 1.81 million Hispanic individuals lived within a half mile of an oil and gas facility as of 2015. The letter also explains that air quality is a great concern for Latino communities given that many Latinos live, work, play, or study in areas violating national air quality standards. In addition, in the short term, methane has over 80 times the warming power than carbon dioxide, a major driver of climate change.
“Weakening the 2016 New Source Performance Standards will negatively impact the public health of Latinos and all Americans living in communities near oil and gas developments. That is why Hispanic Access Foundation and GreenLatinos, along with more than 23 organizations, are asking the EPA to maintain and fully implement the methane protections and reject any proposals to weaken or roll these standards back,” said Hispanic Access Foundation CEO Maite Arce.
Recent studies have shown significant support for climate action among U.S. Latinos: a Latino Decisions poll study from November 2018 found that 81 percent of Latinos surveyed said it is “very” and “extremely important” that Congress take an aggressive stance on climate change. Furthermore, a September 2017 Yale University study found that 74 percent of Latinos would like President Trump and his administration — including the EPA — to do more to address climate change. This letter also comes on the heels of the release of the fourth National Climate Assessment – a report released by the Trump administration – showing the urgent need to act on climate.
The full text of the letter is here, and below is a comprehensive list of signing organizations:
- Hispanic Access Foundation
- Hispanic Federation
- National Hispanic Medical Association
- Ocean Futures Society
- Mujeres de la Tierra
- Earth Ethics, Inc.
- Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project
- Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
- Juntos: Our Air, Our Water - CVNMEF
- The City Project
- Nature for All
- The Praxis Project
- The CLEO Institute
- Chispa, LCV
- Rose Foundation for Communities & the Environment
- Racially Just Utah
- Center for Civic Policy
- Voto Latino