I’ve worked as an environmental organizer in the Latino community for years, and I’ve never been more concerned about corporate polluters endangering our community. Nationally, 3 million Latinos have asthma, and nearly half of all Latinos report that someone in their immediate family suffers from asthma. Here in Clark County nearly 30,000 children suffer from asthma attacks, and many of those attacks are triggered by the pollution spewing out of our car tailpipes and fossil fuel power plants each day. The problem is already bad, but now we have an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator who is rolling back the regulations that kept polluters from making our air quality worse, and endangering our health even more.
Scott Pruitt, the Administrator of the EPA, made headlines in recent weeks as his corrupt relationships with the very people he is responsible for regulating are revealed, and this is certainly cause for Trump to fire him. However, Pruitt should have been fired long ago for his failure to protect our environment, and the health of our families, from the corporations that would rather spoil our air and water than spend a dime cleaning up their act.
Here in Nevada, we don’t always recognize how important and valuable the EPA is to our health. Each year, the EPA spends tens of millions of dollars to keep our water safe, to lower rates of pollution, and to clean up environmental damage in and around our neighborhoods. Pruitt and Trump want to slash the EPA’s budget, and earlier this year they even announced the closure of the National Exposure Research Laboratory (NERL) here in Las Vegas where EPA staff focused on keeping us safe from the dangers of toxic chemicals and pollution.
The EPA programs Pruitt is pushing to repeal are popular throughout the country, and particularly among Latinos.
Pruitt is leading efforts to kill the Clean Power Plan, which would have accelerated the transition to clean and renewable energy sources. More than 80 percent of Latino voters support new clean energy investments, and that may be in part because a higher share of Latinos are employed in the wind and solar industries than in the overall U.S. workforce. And here in Nevada, more than 100 solar companies employ nearly 9,000 people.
Pruitt also denies climate change, so it was no surprise when he urged Trump to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, even though 93 percent of Latino voters supported staying in the agreement.
Most recently, Pruitt called for the EPA to rollback fuel efficiency standards on new cars. Since those limits were enacted in 2012, Nevadans have saved $290 million at the gas pump, and that is why nearly 7 in 10 voters nationwide favored maintaining those standards.
Now, Pruitt’s corruption is more obvious as the details about the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars he wasted on first class air travel unfold. The deals he made with fossil fuel lobbyists and corporations raise serious ethics questions. The list of actions Pruitt took to support his billionaire friends in the fossil fuel industry at the expense of the public health and safety of our families is terrifying.
Trump made the wrong choice for families in Nevada and across the country by hiring Pruitt, and now he’s making matters worse by not firing him. Our air in the Las Vegas region is already more polluted than many cities, and we need an EPA Administrator who will clean up the problem, not make it worse. Scott Pruitt is failing in his duty to uphold and enforce the environmental protections that are in place to protect our public health, and it’s time for him to go.
by Eymhy Corpus
Eymhy Corpus, Sierra Club Organizing Representative in Las Vegas, Nevada.