Last week, a poll of Latino voters in Colorado again showed that when it comes to environment, Latinos want political candidates who support clean air and clean energy.
A poll released last week by Latino Decisions on behalf of Nuestro Rio showed that Latino voters in Colorado want oil shale companies to disclose any potential water impacts before moving forward. This poll echoes results of a September poll of Latinos released by the NRDC Action Fund that Latino voters in four swing states -- Nevada, New Mexico, Florida and Virginia -- decisively favor candidates for president and the U.S. Senate who support clean air and clean energy policies over candidates who don't.
This Latino Decisions/Nuestro Rio poll found that Colorado Latino voters would overwhelmingly support a candidate who prioritized water protection over development. Given that Latino voters are an estimated 12 percent of the electorate in Colorado, this new data should give pause to candidates whose stump speeches revolve around letting polluters, and especially oil and coal companies, have their way with our land at the expense of our health and the well-being of our communities.
In this electoral season, regulations and protections on air and water have been tarnished as unnecessary burdens on the "poor little oil and coal" companies. Still, despite a multi-million dollar advertising campaign designed to convince voters that the only way to create jobs is by drilling our land and polluting our air, this poll, like those before it, shows Latino voters are not buying it.
While there are many important issues facing Latinos in 2012, including jobs, the economy and immigration, new polling shows that Latino voters in Colorado also care deeply about protecting the environment. Even when told by pollsters that some argue oil shale production could create jobs, a strong majority of Latino voters preferred more government action to ensure the environment is protected.
These findings reflect those expressed by over 100 business leaders, recreation organizations, farmers, ranchers and others in a letter to the Bureau of Land Management (a division of the Department of the Interior) this summer.
Furthermore, these poll results, and those preceding them, are not surprising when we consider that most Americans are concerned about drought and want to shift to cleaner energy and away from dirty energy sources, like oil shale, to avoid water shortages. This is particularly true given that there is no viable oil shale industry to speak of, and instead, is defined by a century of failed efforts to jump-start oil shale production by polluting waters in the West while spending millions of dollars of taxpayer funds.
These voter opinions show how out of touch Mitt Romney is when pushing for less protections of our air and water while demanding more protections of Big Oil profits that have already brought in $1 trillion since 2001. Romney's proposals to slash tax incentives for clean energy sources, like wind, despite the fact that the wind industry produces tens of thousands of jobs in manufacturing, construction, and other services, run completely counter to what Americans want.
Latino interest in environmental protections is nothing new. Beyond being a culturally relevant issue for Latinos, many Latinos see the connection between protecting air and water to protecting our health. Perhaps that's why when asked how important the protection of rivers, mountains, and air in Colorado was as an election issue, given all the various important issues on the agenda, a majority of Latino voters rated environmental protection as "important." Only 2 percent of respondents said it was "not at all important" as an election issue this year.
With the election around the corner, Latinos want candidates who can guarantee a healthier future -- and they will go to the polls looking for a candidate who cares about their health and well-being. President Obama's plan puts people and their well-being first, and that's something Latinos get.