Between recent Colorado wildfires, Arizona water shortages and massive storms on the East Coast, the challenges of climate change are all around us – even in the winter. In the past few years, families in Arizona have suffered our hottest summers, our most devastating wildfire seasons, and our most damaging droughts. These troubles affect everyone in Arizona, but Latino families are disproportionately harmed by extreme heat, air pollution and a lack of water.
The American Lung Association reported that 90% of Arizona’s Latino population lives in a county that earned a failing grade for ozone air pollution. The wildfires that ravaged our state this past summer also play a major role in our air quality. As wildfire smoke spreads and
impacts our daily lives, the communities bearing the brunt of this pollution are the low-lying Latino and African American neighborhoods in south and west Phoenix, where the smoke from fires tends to sink.
Addressing these problems is a matter of survival for all Arizonans. Thankfully, with President Biden’s Build Back Better Act, we have a golden opportunity to bring justice to the communities that are often left to carry a disproportionate burden of pollution and the climate crisis. With this legislation, Latinos in Arizona could see dramatic changes in our quality of life. Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly can play a decisive role in achieving this – their support is the key to unlock
historic investments destined to improve the air quality in our states and the wellbeing of millions of Latino families here and around the country.
By retooling our economy so that we are powered by clean energy, the Build Back Better Act will not only lower the disproportionately high energy burdens that hurt our wallets, it can also provide our state with more than 100,000 good-paying jobs. It will also cut the air pollution that burdens our families.
This bill would also create a green investment fund to target 40% of the deployment of clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities. It will also include environmental and climate justice block grants aimed at reducing pollution and improving public health for communities on the front lines of our nation’s most dangerous environmental hazards.
The Act also includes transformative tax credits for clean electricity, vehicles, new technology and manufacturing, and will create jobs, jumpstart new businesses, help working families afford electric vehicles and more efficient appliances, and lower energy costs. These benefits will be available to families all over Arizona, and indeed our country. According to Rhodium Group, clean energy tax credits will help cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions – the pollution that causes climate change – to around half of 2005 levels by 2030. This will also cut families’ household energy bills by an average of $500 a year.
Latinos in Arizona deserve the same chances at achieving success and living a healthy life as the rest of America. By voting for the Build Back Better Act, our senators can ensure a clean and safe environment for all Arizona.
U.S. Rep Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., represents the 3rd Congressional District. State Sen. Raquel Teran, D-Phoenix, represents Legislative District 30. Carolina Rodriguez-Greer is state director of Mi Familia Vota.