Standing Up for Environmental Justice in the Latino Community
By: Juan Perez, LULAC National Environmental Policy Fellow
This morning, the Trump administration outlined their budget that includes deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to the budget outline, the EPA budget will be cut by approximately 30%, leading to a one-fifth staff reduction within the agency. Additionally, 50 federally funded programs ranging from the cleanup of brownfields and industrial sites to climate change initiatives focused on expanding clean water and clean air efforts may be terminated.
The elimination of such programs would be detrimental to ensuring that all Americans have access to clean air and water. In particular, local programs that provide services in areas where Latinos are disproportionately impacted by higher levels of pollution and contamination could be on the chopping block.
The environmental community is facing one of the toughest fights in ensuring the protection of climate change initiatives. Despite overwhelming scientific evidence, President Trump and his cabinet refuse to acknowledge the harsh realities that Latinos face as a result of climate change. President Trump’s proposed budget will prohibit the EPA to properly carry out its job and will further exacerbate the negative effects of climate change across the globe.
During the first weeks of the new administration, President Trump signed an executive order addressing the Waters of the United States Rule, which ensures that the federal government protects major bodies of water, rivers, streams, and wetlands from pollution. The executive order will allow the EPA to reevaluate the clean water protections as they pertain to economic growth, rather than ensuring safe and clean water. Most recently, Congress voted to repeal the Bureau of Land Management Planning 2.0 regulation, which allowed public involvement in the planning process of federal land use and planning process. The repeal now gives increased power to oil and gas companies in establishing drilling projects on public lands.
LULAC stands with communities and workers on the front lines of our fight for environmental justice. We stand in solidarity with those communities feeling the effects of pollution and climate change. Despite what President Trump does, we will continue to make it clear that we will NOT allow him to put the interest of Big Polluters over the environmental concerns and public health issues in our communities.