“Hillary Clinton’s Focus on Flint Matters in Nevada”

This weekend, Nevada Democrats are back in the spotlight as we host the First in the West presidential caucuses. Nevada is a state that reflects the diversity of America, and Nevadans should be excited about the opportunity to weigh in on our Democratic presidential nominee.

But there are too many other places across the country that have not been in the spotlight.There are many forgotten communities where basic human rights, like clean drinking water or safety from toxic pollution, are at risk. That’s why it’s so important that Hillary Clinton proposed holding a debate in Flint, Michigan and then travelled to Flint to see for herself how dire the situation had become. Hillary knows that we must learn from Flint and other environmental crises in order to prevent these types of tragedies from happening again.

There’s no other way of putting it: The water crisis in Flint is a horrific tragedy. Residents of Flint — especially children, infants, and pregnant women who are predominantly people of color — have reported symptoms of lead poisoning, like rashes, hair loss, and brittle bones. Officials now say that all of Flint’s 8,657 children under the age of six should be considered exposed to toxic lead and could experience lifelong problems associated with growth, intelligence, and behavior.

And while apparently now resolved, initially it was reported that immigrant communities in Flint found it too difficult to get information about the crisis, and, for a time, officials were asking for government-issued identification when providing clean drinking water.

Unfortunately these problems are all too familiar. As Hillary wrote recently, “Flint isn’t alone. There are a lot more Flints out there — overwhelmingly low-income communities of color where pollution, toxic chemicals and staggering neglect adds to families’ burdens.”

That’s why we in Nevada should care about what Hillary is doing to draw attention to this issue. Our state is no stranger to environmental justice issues. Native American, Latino and low-income communities have faced aging infrastructure and exposure to toxic chemicals for decades.

Hillary Clinton said it best: “Environmental justice can’t just be a slogan — it has to be a central goal.” We need to make that true here in Nevada. If we don’t want to see another Flint crisis happen in our community, we have to demand change now.

We need serious investment in our infrastructure to ensure people across the state and the country — including communities of color — have access to clean drinking water and a safe environment in which to live. Nevada is a beautiful and bountiful place that we are lucky to call home. We must work together to make ensure it stays that way.

Nevada Assemblyman Nelson Araujo is a member of the Democratic Party, representing the 3rd Assembly District.

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