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Guest Voz: Why the EPA carbon standards are important for Latinos

By Nicole Hernández Hammer

The summer is well underway and many of us are taking family trips or finding ways to bridge the school break with activities that keep kids having fun outdoors while we parents are working.

As I make my summer travel plans, I am keeping my eye on AirNow, an air quality forecaster, to make sure that my family’s vacation and outdoor time is as healthy as possible. Knowing which days to stay indoors versus which days to go outside is especially important if you or your loved ones have asthma or COPD.

The alluring idea of an all-American summer filled with barbeques, swimming in lakes, pools and beaches and going for hikes, is now packaged with a dose of air pollution. Increased asthma is just one impact of air pollution.

One in ten American kids have asthma. I recently read a horrifying statistic; Latino kids with asthma are 40% more likely to die form asthma than the general population.

This year the EPA has put forth new carbon pollution rules to reduce our exposure to pollution and address the causes of climate change.

These rules target fossil-fueled power plants that contribute 32 percent of US carbon emissions, the largest single producer. The purpose of these rules is to reduce carbon pollution by making sure that our energy is gathered from cleaner sources rather than fossil-fuels.

EPA’s proposed standards to lower carbon pollution are a key step towards making our air cleaner and our many communities healthier, especially Latino communities, since we are more likely to live in more polluted areas.

However, some of the companies that are making big bucks off of carbon pollution are fighting very hard to block these rules so they can continue to make billions off our health and environment.

It should not be up to them, it should be up to us, every day hard-working folks, to decide what kind of environment we leave for our kids.

The EPA has set up a comment period (ending October 16th) and they want your input. If you care about cleaner air, a clean energy economy, and the mitigation of climate change then this is the time to speak up!

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Nicole Hernández Hammer is a sea level researcher and the assistant director for climate change research at the Florida Center for Environmental Studies at FAU. She is also a consultant for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

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