After witnessing a year of extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy and one of the worst droughts in history, hearing President Obama reaffirm his commitment to tackling climate change in his State of the Union Address was a breath of fresh air.
President Obama called on both parties to put forth a plan that will tackle global warming while driving strong economic growth. Most importantly, Mr. Obama emphasized his commitment to act, even if Congress will not.
For the many Latinos listening to the speech, the president's commitment to tackle climate change was long-awaited. Reducing pollution, preparing our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speeding the transition to renewable, clean energy, will make all of our communities, and especially those most impacted -- like the Latino and African American communities -- stronger and healthier.
The president's plan will reduce dangerous carbon pollution, lower electricity bills for struggling families, and advance U.S. leadership in global clean energy markets. That's all while we create job opportunities nationwide. Investing in clean energy means investing in our nation's infrastructure: building 21st-century electric grids, high-speed rail, and efficient buildings in cities and towns across the country. It means strengthening our manufacturing sector, creating new demand in producing wind turbine towers and components for electric cars. And it means sparking hubs for clean-tech innovation and development, fostering the entrepreneurs and technologies that will transform our energy future. For Latinos and other communities, investing in clean energy means opportunity.
Delivering the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address, Senator Marco Rubio spoke of his concern for his neighbors, seniors like his mother, and our children. But this long-time climate denier has repeatedly ignored the realities of climate change even when his home state of Florida stands to suffer some of the most serious impacts of global warming.
Senator Rubio's dismissal of climate change is ignorant at best, whether he says it in English or in Spanish. Latinos are not blind. We see that climate change is already taking a major toll on our lives and the economy.
We know that Hurricane Sandy will cost taxpayers well over $60 billion. We have seen how Sandy and wildfires in the West have uprooted families, killed businesses, and cost lives. Our farmers and farmworkers suffered first-hand the searing droughts across two-thirds of the country--droughts that are expected to cost up to 1 percent of U.S. GDP, and jobs for many.
We can't afford to wait. As our president stressed, we must act on climate change "before it's too late." President Obama has laid out a roadmap for doing so. Latinos stand ready to help the president make this happen.