A study released today by the coal industry attempts to justify dirty energy and life-threatening pollution by claiming that Hispanics and blacks will be hit hardest by energy price increases. The study by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity looked at 2010 data and concluded that due to income inequalities, Hispanic households must be more impacted by rising energy costs. This extrapolation is not substantiated by facts and ignores the reality that due to the pollution caused by coal, low-income families, whether they be Hispanic, black, Asian or white are facing higher health expenses.
Lower-income families are more vulnerable to price fluctuations. That much is true and is true where food prices, housing, health care and energy costs are concerned. What this coal industry report ignores, however, is the fact that low-income communities, and especially Hispanic and black low-income communities, are disproportionately impacted by pollution spewed into the air by coal-burning power plants.
Thanks to coal burning power plants, the low-income communities that surround these are left suffering serious health effects, including asthma, bronchitis, lung and heart disease, developmental disorders, and increased mortality. For Latinos, the situation is dire since, one out of every two Latinos in the U.S. lives in counties that frequently violate air pollution standards. The further aggravating factor for Latinos is that, in addition to living in heavily polluted areas, a lack of adequate insurance coverage, high unemployment and a high number of workers working outdoors make the health and consequent cost impacts even more severe.
While the coal industry would like to profess concern for the well-being of Hispanics, actions speak louder than words and Latinos nationwide recognize this. Like most Americans, Latinos want clean air and a strong economy. We recognize that we need clean air to thrive and that energy efficiency is the best answer if we really want to save money on heating and energy bills.
Most of all though, we love our families and as the fastest growing group of voters in the U.S., we as Latinos, want our leaders in Washington--and EPA-- to protect our health, create jobs and move our country forward.
Low-income people should not have to pay for power with their health. This is why groups representing millions of Latinos have repeatedly come together to call on EPA to adopt strong, health protective standards which would allow families to avoid unforeseen health costs, lost work days and the pain and suffering that comes from watching your child gasp for air. The ACCCE ''study'' is yet another scare tactic by an industry supported front group seeking to justify the pollution industry's ability to continue making obscene profits at the expense of some of the more vulnerable people in our country.
Follow Adrianna Quintero on Twitter: www.twitter.com/adriannaq