While América is on edge watching the pandemic unravel into every corner of our country, the Trump administration and its accomplices continue to hammer their own agenda and steamroll communities by rolling back the strongest efforts to combat the climate crisis. Despite the current public health and economic crisis, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency announced, when so few were paying attention, its final rule to roll back clean car standards and not enforce regulations during this crisis, which disregards the health of the public at large and dismisses any hope of proper leadership.
These polluters already violate laws with the government regulators watching and place frontline communities in harm’s way. Allowing polluters to do what they please, is unacceptable. This corporate pollution already degrades the cardiovascular health and to do this during COVID and coupled with the clean cars rollback sends a clear message to frontline communities your health doesn’t matter now or in the future to this administration. The coronavirus health crisis already exploits people with cardiovascular respiratory problems and these rollbacks will only exacerbate the already jeopardized Latinx community.
This destructive action will expound on the tremendous vulnerabilities of the Latinx community, while we already disproportionately face disadvantages relating to respiratory illness and asthma. 1 in 2 Latinx in the U.S. live in counties that consistently violate air quality ozone standards, leading to increased respiratory illness and asthma within our community. Because of Trump’s mismanagement of the crisis paired with the rollback, our communities will be dealt with life-threatening conditions as air pollution drastically increases. With more than 1.81 million Latinxs living within a half-mile radius of existing oil and gas facilities, the profound environmental impact it will have on Latinxs’ health and safety are exponential. From poor air quality to toxic chemicals seeping into our drinking water, the inadequate protections following the rollback will be detrimental. Clean water and air should be everybody’s responsibility, but Trump has made it a priority to move backward on enforcing protections.
The Trump administration has actively worked against sensible climate action and ensuring that our climate and the coronavirus crisis will only get worse, burdening communities of color. As the country finds itself hurting from an economic collapse amid the coronavirus pandemic, this rollback for clean car standards is further endangering the livelihood of the Latinx community. From saving our communities money at the pump, the Clean Car Act encourages a thriving economy and a safer environment. But Trump and the EPA’s failure to properly enact it will only create lasting negative impacts. Already hindered by high levels of poverty and low rates of health insurance coverage, this dirty air rule will inflate the existing economic pressures of the Latinx community — something that shouldn’t come as a surprise with the administration’s long history of systemic racism.
As we recently celebrated César Chávez Day, a day of hope for our community, Trump’s direct action to endanger the lives of so many Americans continues; as well as his efforts to divide and distract the public from the pandemic at hand and continue to dismiss the heroic work of the Latinx community, who is stepping up in these times of crisis, to feed and protect America.
Trump’s reckless plan means that our vulnerable communities will be hurt first and worst by dirty air, toxic water and the increasing impacts of climate change. It is clear, rolling back federal clean car standards shows that Trump continues to prioritize lining the pockets of corporate polluters and risking our lives and well-being. Now more than ever, the administration should be focused on strengthening health and economic protections, not exacerbating the climate crisis. Trump and his administration have already made their decision, and they have voted against the Latinx community and the American people at large over and over again. It is time that our Congressional leaders step up, especially during these times of economic and public health peril, to help the communities they were elected to serve. Do right by your constituents, our livelihood is on the line.
Ean Thomas Tafoya is the Colorado Climate and Water Organizer for GreenLatinos, a national non-profit organization that is committed to addressing national, regional and local environmental issues that significantly affect the health and welfare of the Latino community in the United States. Tafoya can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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