Latino Leaders Denounce Proposed EPA Budget Cuts
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, a coalition of 45 of the nation’s preeminent Latino advocacy organizations, strongly denounces President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The proposed cuts to the EPA would shrink the agency’s spending by 31 percent, and eliminate a quarter of the agency’s 15,000 jobs. The proposed cuts are unpopular and face bipartisan opposition in the House and the Senate, but proposals in Congress for lesser cuts also would inflict great harm. Slashing critical funding to the EPA and reducing jobs at the agency weakens the federal government’s ability to protect public health and promote clean air, water, and energy for the nation.
These cuts are of particular concern to the Latino community because they eliminate the EPA’s Environmental Justice office. This program is tasked with bridging the gaping disparity in pollution experienced by Black, Hispanic, and low-income communities, and with enforcing the civil rights of racial minority and low-income communities under Title VI. The intersection between race and poverty compounds the health impact of environmental pollution in communities of color. When chronic disease does occur, low-income communities demonstrate worse health outcomes than affluent communities. Furthermore, the EPA’s role, which would be decimated by the proposed budget cuts, includes reviewing and preventing the toxic effects of pesticides on agricultural workers and their children.
Despite years of urban planning and sporadic regulation, nearly half of the U.S.’s Latino population lives in counties that do not meet EPA air quality standards. As a result, Latino children are more likely to die from asthma than non-Latino children, and many states that are home to the country’s largest Latino communities are ground zero for the impacts of climate change, including extreme heat, drought, and sea level rise.
“The Latino community is particularly negatively impacted by the lack of environmental protections, as are other communities of color. Failure to provide protections against environmental harms such as pollution expose the Latino community to living and working conditions that place people’s health at great risk. We urge lawmakers to oppose such drastic cuts to the EPA,” said Hector Sanchez Barba, Chair of NHLA and Executive Director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement.
“The correct response to addressing these environmental and health disparities is not to eliminate the Environmental Justice office, or dismantle the EPA, but instead strengthen the agency and similar programs, and work even harder to make them more effective. Black, Latino, and disadvantaged communities, who are already more vulnerable to pollution and unsafe living conditions, should not continue to bear a disproportionate burden of pollution, climate change, and unsafe living conditions. We implore Congress to reevaluate the devastating impacts of these cuts and provide assurances that the EPA will be able to fulfill its mission to protect the health and well-being of all Americans,” said Laura Esquivel, Co-Chair of NHLA’s Energy and Environment Committee and Director of National Advocacy at Hispanic Federation.
“The Administration’s cuts would deprive the EPA of the staff and funds needed to comply with its legal obligations to prevent pesticide poisoning of farmworkers, their children, and their communities. If anything close to these budget cuts occurs, more farmworkers and their children will suffer the terrible consequences, including damage to children’s intellectual development, severe birth defects, and cancer,” said Virginia Ruiz, Co-Chair of NHLA’s Energy and Environment Committee and Director of Occupational and Environmental Health at Farmworker Justice.
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ABOUT THE NATIONAL HISPANIC LEADERSHIP AGENDA
The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda is composed of 45 of the leading national and regional Latino civil rights and public policy organizations and other elected officials, and prominent Latinos Americans. NHLA coalition members represent the diversity of the Latino community – Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and other Latino Americans. NHLA’s mission calls for unity among Latinos around the country to provide the Latino community with greater visibility and a clearer, stronger influence in our country’s affairs. NHLA brings together Latino leaders to establish policy priorities that address, and raise public awareness of, the major issues affecting the Latino community and the nation as a whole. For more information, please visit: www.nationalhispanicleadership.org.
NHLA MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS
Alianza Americas | American G.I. Forum | ASPIRA Association | Avance Inc. | Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network | Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute | Farmworker Justice | GreenLatinos | Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities | Hispanic Federation | Hispanic National Bar Association | Inter-University Program for Latino Research | Labor Council for Latin American Advancement | LatinoJustice PRLDEF | League of United Latin American Citizens | MANA, A National Latina Organization | Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund | Mi Familia Vota | National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures | National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives | National Association of Hispanic Publications | National Day Laborer Organizing Network | NALEO Educational Fund | National Association of Latino Independent Producers | National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, Inc. | National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators | National Hispanic Council on Aging | National Hispanic Environmental Council | National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts | National Hispanic Media Coalition | National Hispanic Medical Association | National Institute for Latino Policy | National Latina/o Psychological Association | National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health | Presente.org | SER Jobs for Progress National | Southwest Voter Registration Education Project | UnidosUS | United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce | United States Hispanic Leadership Institute | United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce | U.S.- Mexico Foundation | Voto Latino