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Survey: Latinos Care Deeply About Environmental Protection

A poll finds air pollution is just as important to Latinos as immigration reform. Credit: Kenn W. Kiser
A poll finds air pollution is just as important to Latinos as immigration reform. Credit: Kenn W. Kiser
August 20, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A new poll finds Latinos in Illinois and around the nation are deeply concerned about the environment.

According to the survey conducted for Earthjustice and GreenLatinos, almost two-thirds of Latinos polled see climate change as a consequence of human activity compared with just over half of the general population.

Antonio Lopez, executive director with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization in Chicago, is not surprised by the findings because he says Latino and other minority communities have borne the brunt of environmental injustices in the community.

"Latino and African-Americans, due to kind of histories of discrimination and racism, particularly around housing policies, are oftentimes living in communities close to landfills or, in our case, in close proximity to a coal power plant," says Lopez.

The survey found the environmental issues of strengthening the Clean Water Act, increasing water conservation and reducing smog and air pollution are just as important to Latino voters as the passage of immigration reform.

In the survey, 74 percent of Latinos said it was extremely or very important to set national standards to prevent global warming and climate change. And Lopez says at the federal level the recently finalized Clean Power Plan is a positive step forward in reducing air pollution.

"This has a lot of potential, but we're also hopeful that there's not going to be loopholes that are going to allow for the continuation of a lot of the problems around air quality and environmental degradation near low-income communities," he says.

The survey also found six out of 10 Latinos have confidence that stronger environmental laws will improve economic growth and create new jobs.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL