Thursday, October 28, 2021

Guest commentary: Sinema has a choice to protect Latinos, combat climate change

Posted By on Thu, Oct 28, 2021 at 1:16 PM

In Arizona, the climate crisis has become a real and growing threat to our lives and livelihoods. Prolonged drought is creating a ripple effect of uncertainty, massive wildfires are devastating local economies, and heat-related illnesses and deaths are on the rise as triple-digit temperatures skyrocket. This week, U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema has a historic chance to change the course of this crisis. The constituents in my Latino-majority district are counting on her support of the Build Back Better Act.

The choice is crystal clear. While Governor Doug Ducey and his Republican-led legislature refuse to acknowledge reality and science, it’s up to Congress and Senator Sinema to adopt a once-in-a-lifetime plan that will create jobs and invest in a clean energy economy that protects Arizona’s air, land, and water for generations to come. Refusing to act harms us all, but it especially hurts Latinos who are disproportionately affected by climate change.

The lack of equitable access to affordable cooling has increased emergency room visits among Latinos, many of whom work outdoors—and we’ve lost hundreds of lives over the last decade due to Arizona’s extreme heat. Dirty air created by fossil-fuel polluters in our state has led to record asthma cases among Latino children. And the Colorado River Basin, responsible for 36% of Arizona’s water supply and now faced with historic water cuts due to drought, encompasses a whopping one-third of the Nation’s entire Latino population.

We can no longer sit idle. Inaction will jeopardize lives and economies, and it will hurt our black, indigenous, and people of color most. If we are truly committed to moving Arizona forward, we cannot keep going down the same path of climate and social justice apathy. It’s why Senator Sinema’s support of the Build Back Better Act is crucial.

When approved, the legislation will dramatically improve lives and economies in Arizona, tackling the extreme weather that endangers our loved ones on a daily basis. It will create 100,000 jobs annually in the state for the next decade and boost household income $3,300 a year.

This matters to our Latino families and businesses because we were hardest hit by COVID-19. With an estimated 25 percent of Latino-owned businesses permanently closed over the course of 2020, our economic recovery as Latinos has been comparatively slow. The continuous impacts of climate change only make matters worse.

Latinos in Arizona are resourceful and resilient. Experience has taught us to persevere, even when faced with systemic injustice and economic inequalities; however, we are simply tired of waiting. We want clean air, safe water, and protection of our precious indigenous lands. We are ready to write a new chapter for our community and our state. Senator Sinema: it’s time to support the Build Back Better act.

Andres Cano, 29, represents Legislative District 3 in the Arizona House of Representatives. He is the top Democrat on the House Committee on Natural Resources, Energy, and Water. He is the Chair of the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus.

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