Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at EPA


By Administrator Lisa P. Jackson

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to reflect on the important role the environment plays in every community, and the important role every community should play in protecting our environment. The EPA has taken considerable steps to make sure all Americans have a voice in the conversation about the environmental and health issues facing them. Just this week we unveiled an environmental justice plan called EJ 2014, to outline our work in the years ahead. But our commitment to protecting the health of all Americans goes beyond the guidebook. The voices of Hispanic and other minority communities are part of every decision we make.

When we proposed the first-ever Mercury and Air Toxics Standards to cut harmful emissions from power plants, we were thinking about the nearly 2 million Hispanics across America who suffer from asthma. When we finalized the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule to cut pollution that can drift across state lines, we were thinking about the almost 30 million Latinos who live in places that don’t meet clean air standards. These two health protections are expected to save 50,000 lives and prevent more than 500,000 cases of asthma nationwide.

We were thinking about Hispanic communities who live along Los Angeles’ Compton Creek and New York’s Harlem River – near where I used to work as an EPA scientist – when we formed the Urban Waters Federal Partnership. And we thought about them again when we awarded $6.2 million to organizations across the country that train local residents and place them into good, green jobs cleaning up their communities.

We want to give Hispanics, and all Americans, the opportunity to transform these often over-polluted areas into healthier, stronger places to raise a family and grow a business – creating opportunities for more jobs in places where they can have the most impact.

When it comes to our future, we are also working on behalf of Hispanic communities. I think about the many young Latino students I met at St. Phillips College in San Antonio and the many others like them throughout the nation getting green jobs training. These students will be the engineers, the factory workers and the welders making our power plants cleaner with new pollution control technology. They’ll be the workers revitalizing our urban waters and communities. And they’ll be the ones making the solar panels and wind farms and biomass to power our nation into the future.

It is critical that Hispanic Americans have a voice in our conversation about the environmental and health issues that affect their communities. That is why this is the first in a series of posts celebrating Hispanic Heritage month. In the weeks ahead, we will hear the real stories of people at EPA and members of Hispanic communities who are lending their voices to the conversation on environmentalism. I am proud I’m proud to join them in celebrating another Hispanic Heritage month here at EPA, and in working to protect the health and environment for all Americans.