Who Deserves to Breathe Clean Air?

5 mins read

The smoke has arrived. It is anyone’s guess how many fires we will get this year in what has become a new season between summer and fall — fire season. What is indisputable is that Latinos in the United States are 165% more likely to live with unhealthy levels of particulate pollution and that, due to this disproportionate exposure to pollutants, approximately 8.5% of all Hispanic children suffer from asthma — nearly one in ten! If, like me, you have asthmatics at home, you know the endless nights listening for their next breath. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that Latino children are twice as likely to die from asthma. Read that again. 

For decades the Republican Party, held hostage by its corporate donors, has been ignoring these facts, insisting that climate pollution is a ghost. Simultaneously, both in the national congress and here in the Nevada legislature, they refuse to vote on bills that limit the extortionate prices we pay for asthma medications like albuterol inhalers, which even for those lucky enough to have insurance, cost half a paycheck.

At last, the senators of the Democratic Party have said “Enough!” Through the budget reconciliation process, where only 50 votes are needed instead of the 60 necessary to avoid filibuster blockades, they are unilaterally trying to take a step forward. The Inflation Reduction Act is a significant climate investment that will help mitigate climate change and its impact on our communities. This real step will create jobs, reduce costs for families, and move towards our energy independence from dirty fuels polluting our air. The act includes $3 billion for community-led projects in disadvantaged communities to address disproportionate damage to the environment in these places and the accompanying public health problems related to pollution and climate change. It also includes an expansion in consumer rebates for the purchase and installation of efficient appliances (fridges, air conditioners, heat pumps, etc.) that will save middle-class families money. In addition to investing in a cleaner energy future, it imposes fees on the oil industry for the harmful methane pollution that they burn, vent, and filter during oil drilling.

Do not be fooled or distracted by those who want to continue down the toxic path we are on, where the oil industries control politicians and the price of gasoline at the expense of our health and our future. There is no country in the world that is escaping from the global inflation that the pandemic gave us with its shortages and supply chain issues, and that Putin exacerbated with his infamous war in Europe. Like our health, our economic progress also depends on becoming independent from dirty energy controlled by the tyrants in Venezuela, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and their cronies. Enough of the concessions and wars to protect the oil industry, which in the end only enrich others, including oil shareholders and their corporate lawyers like Adam Laxalt (Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate), who enrich themselves from expensive gasoline and environmental pollution. 

The truth is that renewable energy employs the highest rate of Latino workers in the energy sector. Our best economic future, and especially that of our children, is linked to clean energy and clean air. That matters less to those who can afford to live constantly in filtered air and go on vacation as soon as the air quality worsens. Nor does it keep politicians who prefer to sell their positions for generous contributions awake at night. They want us to focus on the daily work and the daily prices, not on the dark fog that falls on us if we do not do something to change the trajectory of the environmental crisis. We are running out of time. It is important to support efforts like the Inflation Reduction Act. Take a good look at who is for it, like Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Sen. Jacky Rosen, and who is against it, like Rep. Mark Amodei. And above all, don’t forget in November: Let’s vote with our brains, and with our lungs.

DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.

Vivian is a writer and activist. The daughter and wife of Cuban immigrants, she grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She lives in the beautiful mountains of Reno, Nevada. Vivian is committed to giving voice to humanitarian principles and working to hear them reflected in law and in the larger state and national dialogue. She has lived with multiple sclerosis for 20 years.

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