April 22, 2005

Hispanic Caucus Recognizes Earth Day’s 35th Anniversary

Washington, DC — On April 22, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) commemorates the 35th anniversary of Earth Day and reaffirms its commitment to environmental justice.

Earth Day is the day that many identify as a day to recycle, carpool, or grow a plant or tree. The CHC recognizes these steps towards commemorating Earth Day, and stresses its dedication to ending environmental inequalities that affect the health and welfare of Latinos and their families.

“On Earth Day, we must promote and attain environmental justice,” said CHC Livable Communities Task Force Chair, Congressman Raúl Grijalva. “We must ensure that everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and has equal access to the decision-making processes that ensure a healthy environment for our families.”

People of color and low-income families have a greater likelihood to live in more polluted areas than any other group in the country. Industrial facilities are frequently built in low-income neighborhoods, a majority of which create a disproportionate amount of air pollution and fail to meet affordable, modern environmental performance standards. As a result, people in such areas suffer from higher rates of illness in comparison with middle-class suburbs and affluent communities.

The impact in our communities is underscored in the Natural Resources Defense Council’s October 2004 report “Hidden Danger: Environmental Health Threats in the Latino Community.” NRDC’s report brings attention to the pollutants and environmental hazards that are prevalent in Latino communities. Its content acknowledges the disparity of pollutants, which undermine the health of Latinos. The report challenges and reminds policy makers and everyone alike of the need for action.

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