Oil shale found in western Colorado, Wyoming and Utah is not oil. Oil shale is a rock that has to be mined and melted to 700 degrees – for months or even years – to be processed into a low-grade crude oil. By some estimates, oil shale could require as much 150 percent the amount of water the Denver Metro area uses each year. In Pueblo, Colorado it could demand over 13 times the drinking water used by the area and drain all the river water with it. Not only could your faucets run dry, but there would also be no fishing, no water recreation and farmers would have to watch their crops turn to dust.
As the state of Colorado continues to experience changing demographics, it is imperative that we ensure that our environmental stewards represent those who live in our community. In Pueblo, Colorado, Latinos make up 44.3 percent of the population according to the 2010 Census.
To reach this audience, Hispanic Access Foundation launched a PSA campaign – “Don’t let oil shale drain our water away” – through radio and billboards. Our goal is to build the Hispanic community’s capacity to engage in areas that will improve the lives and well being for this generation and those to come. Through this campaign we helped to raise awareness about the need for a smart approach to oil shale – one that won’t further jeopardize a limited water supply – and how Hispanics can become that advocate to improve their lives.
Making a Difference
Hispanics are disproportionately affected by factors that place their long-term health in serious jeopardy. Hispanics are 165 percent more likely to live in counties with unhealthy levels of air pollution, unsafe drinking water, and lead and mercury contamination – all of which can cause serious health problems – according to the American Lung Association.
The 2012 National Latinos and the Environment Survey showed that pollution of our air and water resources is still the top environmental concern for Latino voters nationwide, with 61 percent saying it’s among the top two environmental issues for them and their families. Eighty –six percent of Latino voters prefer that the government invest in clean, renewable energy like solar and wind, while just 11 percent of Latinos prefer investments in fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas.
Through this campaign, we educated Colorado Hispanics about the issues surrounding oil shale and helped empower them to fight for the surroundings that many of us take for granted.