It's been nearly three months since President Obama's strongly worded State of the Union address, in which he vowed to tackle climate change if Congress failed to do so. U.S. Latinos cheered this commitment, knowing that they stood to suffer should climate change continue to worsen.
Now, three months later -- and without Congress doing anything on the climate front -- we're watching for the president's next move. The Obama Administration has missed its deadline to cut industrial carbon pollution from power plants. With this missed deadline comes a new poll of Latinos nationwide, confirming that the time for President Obama to act is now.
With Congress stalled, the president has a historic opportunity to set America on the path to a sustainable energy future and fight climate change. The Obama Administration has already taken major strides in this direction, raising vehicle fuel efficiency standards from 29.7 to 54.5 miles per gallon, so we'll soon be able to travel twice as far on a tank of gas. We've invested more than $90 billion dollars toward innovations in new energy sources, smarter electric grids, advanced battery storage, and more -- solutions that are yielding benefits and creating jobs today.
But there's a lot more to do if we want to make a serious, long-term dent in the carbon that polluters are pumping into our air. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has already proposed standards to limit carbon pollution from new power plants -- the first time in U.S. history power plants will be subject to such controls. Coal-fired power plants are the biggest global warming culprit in the country (responsible for around 40 percent of our emissions), and these historic standards will ensure new plants won't be able to spew carbon pollution unchecked.
These standards are important for Latinos. Nearly half of all U.S. Latinos live in the country's most smog-polluted cities, breathing in dirty air that can cause asthma attacks, reduce lung function, and aggravate respiratory illnesses. Climate change -- and the hotter temperatures that come with it -- only make smog worse. For children, the elderly, outdoor workers, and those without health insurance in the Hispanic community, these conditions can be deadly.
Because these impacts too often hit home for Latinos, it's no surprise that polls are once again showing extremely high support among Latinos for government action to curb carbon pollution.
A new poll carried out by Voces Verdes and Latino Decisions in late April shows that 84 percent of U.S. Latinos favor the EPA setting safeguards to limit air pollution that impacts public health. Importantly, 86 percent of those surveyed said they would support President Obama taking action to limit pollution that causes climate change. This mirrors past polls showing that Latinos consider the environment and public health top priorities, and think that government action on air pollution is key.
Now is the time for us to rise to the challenge. Hispanic voters put their faith in President Obama, reelecting him to tackle key issues for our community, including a changing climate that threatens our communities, our health and our future. Delaying life-saving standards isn't just a political maneuver; it has big impacts on the everyday lives of Latino families and other vulnerable populations.
President Obama: The Latino community has your back as your administration works to limit carbon pollution from new and existing coal-fired power plants. And we urge your administration to move swiftly to finalize the standards and help our families and future generations breathe easier.