El presidente Joe Biden. Foto: Lenin Nolly/MLNews
By Antonieta Cadiz
Two years into President Biden’s administration, there is a lot to highlight while we continue working towards a cleaner and better future for our planet and the well-being of our communities. President Biden’s leadership delivered a historic victory for climate action by passing the Inflation Reduction Act, and it is no coincidence that less than a day before this significant anniversary, he traveled to California, where thousands have been impacted by extreme weather driven by climate change. His administration understands how important this issue is for every American, especially for the communities most impacted by the climate crisis, and it’s making sure we make progress now.
- Biden promised an all-hand-on-deck approach to tackle the climate crisis. Since then, he has delivered on that promise for two years delivering historic and transformational climate legislation.
○ The Inflation Reduction Act represents a historic investment in clean energy and climate action that is already creating jobs for Latinos while decreasing energy costs and boosting the economy.
■ The law includes 10 years of consumer tax credits for heat pumps, rooftop solar, electric HVAC, and electric water heaters, a $10 billion investment tax credit to build clean technology manufacturing facilities, and $1 billion grant program to increase energy efficiency in affordable housing, among other benefits.
○ The law includes important investments for vulnerable communities on the frontline of pollution and extreme weather, including millions of Latino families.
■ $3 billion for the Environmental and Climate Justice Block Grants to reduce pollution and climate risks through community-led projects in disadvantaged communities. Thanks to this resources the Environmental Protection Agency was able to announced this month 100 million dollars in grants for environmental justice, the most significant amount of environmental justice grant funding ever destined for underserved and overburdened communities across the country.
- President Biden has proactively moved forward on climate and environmental justice executive action. Even though there is so much more we need to do, moving us in the right direction is essential to progress. Here are some examples of the progress made.
- ○ Last year the Department of the Interior proposed the first offshore wind permits for the Gulf of Mexico, covering 700,000 acres with the potential to power over 3 million homes.
- ○ The Department of Health and Human Services released guidance expanding the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to include efficient air conditioning systems, community cooling centers, and more to lower cooling costs for communities suffering from extreme heat.
- A third of United States households struggle to pay their energy bills. One in five have to cut back on other necessities like food or medicine to pay for energy bills. 10% keep temperature at unsafe levels to reduce costs.
- 40% of the household struggling to pay energy bills in the United States are Latino and 50% are black.
- ○ The Biden Administration’s Council on Environmental Quality launched the first version of its Climate and Economic Justice Screening tool, which seeks to ensure federal program benefits reach communities overburdened by pollution and historic underinvestment.
■ The tracker supports the Administration Justice40 Initiative, under which the Administration will deliver 40% of the overall benefits of climate, clean energy, sustainability housing, and clean water investments to disadvantaged communities.
- Latinos are at the frontlines of the climate crisis and environmental injustice. Progress in both areas is essential to the wellbeing of Latinos around the country.
- ○ From working for hours in dangerous weather conditions to living in areas more prone to weather disasters, Latinos are the most exposed and the least likely to recover after an extreme weather event.
- ○ Latinos are heavily impacted by the fossil fuel industry’s pollution, while receiving almost no employment or economic benefits from these facilities. 81 million Latinos live within half a mile of existing oil and gas facilities. As a result, many Latino communities face an elevated risk of cancer due to air toxics emissions from oil and gas development. Nearly 1.78 million Latinos live in counties that face a cancer risk above EPA’s level of concern from toxins emitted by oil and gas facilities.
- ○ From the suffocating temperatures and toxic air pollution in Latino neighborhoods to the disproportionate levels of asthma and lead poisoning faced by Latino children. Latinos are a frontline community that has been carrying the burden of environmental injustice for decades.
- ○ The African American Research Collaborative’s (AARC) 2022 Midterm Election Voter Survey showed that 68% of Latino voters believe that climate change is an urgent problem that we must address now by investing in
clean energy, reducing pollution, and lowering energy costs, showing progress and support in the movement to combat climate change.
During his second year in office, President Biden delivered historic climate action that will boost the clean energy industry in the United States, creating millions of well paid jobs for all Americans, giving our country a fighting chance against climate change and ensuring a clean and safe planet for our future generations. President Biden understands the urgent need to tackle the climate crisis, and in only two years he delivered on his promises to make this a priority, showing that through hard work and courage, groundbreaking policies can be achieved.