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Latino Groups Urge Senate To Protect BLM Methane Rule, Latino Communities

Mar 23, 2017

Washington, D.C. –  The Hispanic Action Foundation (HAF) alongside 17 leaders from other Latino advocacy groups, sent a letter urging members of the U.S. Senate to the protect the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Methane and Waste Prevention rule, which aims to curb methane pollution from oil and gas activities on our public lands and helps to protect Latinos across the country.

The Latino community is disproportionately affected by methane and other toxic air pollution from oil and gas operations; their letter highlights how the BLM’s rule safeguards the health and well-being of their community and underscores the serious impact repeal would have on Latinos. The House has already voted to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to roll back the BLM’s rule, and the Senate will be voting on the CRA soon.

“Communities of color, especially Latino communities, are very concerned about the health effects of methane waste and the impacts on our air and our climate now and for future generations,” said Ernesto Vargas, national director of Chispa, a Latino community organizing program of the League of Conservation Voters. “The Congressional Review Act of the Methane Rule would cause our communities to lose these critical safeguards for the foreseeable future, and we are asking our representatives in Congress to oppose this blatant attack on our health. Our families are watching to see who our Congressional leaders choose to side with—Big Polluters and their profits or people living on the frontlines of climate change and their right to clean air.”

The BLM’s rule also provides important protections for American taxpayers, without the rule, industry will continue wasting upwards of $330 million dollars-worth of taxpayer owned natural gas on our public lands.

“As a Latino—and a taxpayer, I expect our public resources to be used both efficiently and responsibly. If we continue to let our oil and gas resources to go up in flames, taxpayers will lose out on millions of dollars each year that belong back in our communities,” said Maite Acre, President & CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation. “Lost revenue could be put to work in our neighborhoods in the form of improved infrastructure or funding for schools, and I urge the Senate to consider what is on the line if the BLM rule is blocked. When it comes down to it, the BLM methane rule is a win-win for taxpayers and our communities.”

If the CRA resolution is successful in the Senate, and the BLM’s methane rule is rolled back—our children, our future—will be sickened by the toxic methane and air pollution that dirties our air and worsens public health.

“Our children are our most valuable resource; if Congress chooses to block the methane waste rule using the CRA—they’re making a dangerous bet against the health and well-being of America’s future,” said Dr. Elena Rios, President of the National Hispanic Medical Association. “We know that toxic air pollution from oil and gas operations knows no borders. Instead of ripping away protections for our most vulnerable populations, it is the responsibility of our representatives in the Senate to double down on the BLM’s Methane and Waste Prevention Rule. Latinos across this country, especially children and the elderly, face numerous health risks associated with air pollution from the oil and gas industry; the BLM rule is necessary to reign in this harmful pollution.”