By: Yaritza Perez, Florida field organizer, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: December 2, 2021
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0317
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Good afternoon, everyone. I am Yaritza Perez, and I am calling in from Orlando, Florida. As a second-generation Puerto Rican, I get to represent the state of Florida as a field organizer for Moms Clean Air Force. And as you have heard from a number of my colleagues, Moms Clean Air Force is a phenomenal organization with over 1 million parents from across the country that are urging you to cut gas and methane pollution. As a Floridian, as a Latina, as a United States Marine Corps veteran, and most importantly, as a mother, I am asking that you listen to US. We The People. Every single one of us. Because we all deserve and demand justice in every breath. I support the proposed EPA methane rules and urge the EPA to finalize the strongest and most comprehensive rules to protect children’s health from all sources of oil and gas methane pollution, including small wells and routine flaring.
There are close to 2 million Latinos living within a half mile of existing oil and gas facilities. Due to high levels of poverty, low levels of health insurance, and lack of access to adequate health care, Latinos are disproportionately burdened by the health impacts from methane and other air pollution. Latinos experience over 153,000 asthma attacks and over 112,000 missed school days each year due to air pollution. Rates of asthma are often higher in Latino communities. Latinos are three times more likely to be negatively affected by air pollution because of where we live and work. We live in counties that are frequently violating ground-level ozone standards. We are literally living in environments and communities that are toxic and full of contaminants that are harmful to our children’s lungs. We owe it to our children and to their future. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to our parents and grandparents who sacrificed so much for us to be here. This is a basic human right.
I should feel comfortable when stepping outside, knowing that the air is clean. Knowing that I sacrificed 12 years of selfless service in the Marines to this country only to be treated as a second-class citizen when I returned home is insulting and unacceptable. Latinos have sacrificed our children for generations in honor and service to this country, and we deserve to come back to a healthy clean land. No matter where that land is. The current climate crisis has caused millions to migrate to the state of Florida to seek refuge and stability. In order to welcome those families, we must provide and implement drastic change now.
We have had veterans who have fought wars abroad only to come home and die from a toxic environment and bad health care. Latino children are 40% more likely to die from asthma than white children, and nearly 10% of Latino children under the age of 18 suffer from chronic respiratory illness.
The time for change is now. Will you do what is right? Or will you let the rest of our futures depend on someone’s bottom line?
I urge the EPA to finalize the strongest and most comprehensive rules to protect children’s health from all sources of oil and gas methane pollution.
Thank you for your time. I hope you remember what I said. What Moms Clean Air Force has said. These issues are extremely important and are clearly affecting us.
Have an outstanding rest of your week. Semper Fidelis