As a mother and member of Congress, I want a secure future for my son and constituents. However, the more we learn about the effects of climate change, the more I know that their future health will be jeopardized if we do not act quickly to address the consequences associated with climate change.
I proudly represent California’s 38th congressional district, a stretch of Southeast Los Angeles County that is comprised of working class families and a large Latino population. As the representative of a large minority population, my constituents stand to lose the most if we fail to mitigate the effects of climate change and implement carbon reduction guidelines.
31% of Latinos live within 30 miles of a power plant and are 165% more likely to live in counties with unhealthy levels of particulate matter pollution. The consequences of these environmental conditions are evident in the high rate of asthma among the Latino community, particularly children. One in ten Latino children suffer from asthma. They are also 40% more likely to die from the chronic disease than their white counterparts.
These numbers are unacceptable and they underscore the need for a commonsense plan to reduce carbon pollution and fight climate change. That is why I strongly support the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan. The proposal would cut carbon emission by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030 and enhance the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse emissions.
We cannot afford to wait to act on this issue because I know the negative environmental impacts go beyond my own congressional district.
A recent study conducted by UCLA and other public health organizations found that Los Angeles County will experience significant warming by mid-century. On average, temperatures forty years from now will be 4-5 degrees warmer. We will also see more ‘extreme heat days’, with most areas in Southern California experiencing double to triple the number of ‘extreme heat days’ in a year.
I am working hard in Congress to raise awareness about the impact of climate change and lend a voice to the minority communities across our country whose health and livelihood are affected by poor environmental conditions.
As a lawmaker, environmentalist, and most importantly, as a mother, I know we can no longer afford to wait to act on climate change. I want a safe and secure future for my son, and I think millions of parents across the country would agree with me.
President Obama agrees with me. With Republican leadership in Congress failing to act on climate, President Obama used his executive authority to limit the health and economic impacts associated with climate change and carbon pollution. When implemented, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan would result in $55-93 billion in health and climate benefits.
The benefits are significant, but the costs of not acting are much greater. I know this change is possible and I will continue working hard to make other legislators understand the urgency associated with combating sources of pollution.
Recognized by her colleagues and the national media as a leading voice for working families, judiciary, and trade matters, Rep. Linda Sánchez has represented Southeast Los Angeles County since 2003.
Rep. Sanchez serves on the powerful Ways & Means Committee and is ranking member the House Ethics Committee. She is co-founder of the Labor and Working Families Caucus and is the first Latina to serve on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.