By: Laura Espinosa, District Director, LULAC District 17
Across the country, the Latino community is coming together to fight back against polluters and advocate for an environmental justice agenda. Last month, residents of Oxnard, California used civil disobedience to express their opposition to yet another dirty energy plant. NRG Energy, a multi-billion dollar Fortune 500 company and the largest power plant operator in the United States, has proposed to construct another fossil-fueled dependent power plant on Oxnard’s coast. Oxnard’s population is 85 percent people of color and home to more power plants than any other city in California.
This is not the time for more dirty energy plants.
At a time when the country is threatened by the severe effects of climate change, including record-breaking droughts, floods, and extreme hot and cold temperatures, building more dirty plants that add to our carbon footprint is not the answer. Over the last two years, residents from all over California have mobilized for hearings and press conferences, participated in door-to-door outreach, and traveled to the state capitol to express opposition to the construction of dirty power plants.
Members of all levels of society are speaking out.
Local farm workers have expressed growing concern for the compromised working conditions and negative effects of the use of pesticides. Concerned citizens are forcing officials to recognize that additional dirty energy plants will only increase the level of emissions spewed into the atmosphere and lead to increased asthma and cancer rates among the community.
Just ten miles away from Oxnard, the city of Santa Paula faces a similar challenge as CALPINE, one of America’s largest natural gas and geothermal energy companies, seeks to open a power plant. Just two years ago, Santa Paula experienced a hazardous waste explosion near the Santa Clara River, leaving residents fearful of additional environmental hazards due to increased power plant presence in the area.
Latinos are standing up for environmental justice and climate change action.
The Latino residents of Oxnard and Santa Paula are standing up and demanding increased environmental protections for their communities, and LULAC is committed to this fight. For years, LULAC National has been at the forefront of fighting back against polluters in our community. In 2009, the LULAC National Assembly passed an environmental justice resolution committing the nation’s oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization to fight for access to clean water, air, and food. The resolution, called the Declaration of the Principles of Environmental Justice and Environmental Bill of Rights in Latino Communities in the United States, affirmed LULAC’s support to fight for policies that ensure that Latino communities are protected from nuclear testing and the extraction, production and disposal of toxic/hazardous wastes and poisons that threaten the fundamental right to clean air, land, water and food.
This time, LULAC District 17 has joined the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) and community partners like GreenLatinos, the Sierra Club, and Climate Hub, among others, to raise awareness and submit public statements from almost every federal, state, and local Board of Supervisor representative and the city council, expressing opposition to dirty energy plants.
LULAC understands that the fight for civil rights is linked with the fight for clean air, water, and food. Latinos are united to fight for environmental justice — a fight that requires everything from opposing actions by powerful corporate polluters, to stopping anti-environment candidates like Scott Pruitt (Trump’s pick for EPA Administrator). Latinos are united in saying enough is enough — we pledge to #resist the opening of additional dirty power plants and continue to push our leaders to #ActOnClimate.