Climate & Environmental Justice Take Center Stage in Meeting with Vice President Harris
Voces Unidas CEO Alex Sánchez was honored to be among a small contingent invited to welcome Vice President Kamala Harris as she arrived in Denver via Air Force Two on Monday, exchanging greetings before VP Harris headed off to the Arvada Center for the Arts for a panel discussion about the Biden administration’s efforts to tackle climate change.
Climate change and environmental justice are issues that resonate with both Voces Unidas and the Biden administration, and we are actively helping inform policy around everything from expanding rural public transportation and support for electric vehicles to heightened regulations to protect our air and address our water quality, particularly in under-represented communities. Harris, meanwhile, touted the administration’s investments in infrastructure and other policies designed to help accelerate the transition to clean energy, protect the western US from drought, and assist communities of color struggling with pollution.
“We’re actually creating new ways of doing things, and that’s very exciting,” Vice President Harris told a crowd of more than 300 that included Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, who introduced her, and Congresswoman Brittany Petterson of Lakewood, who served as panel moderator.
Harris cited lead pipes as a leading example of environmental injustice, calling them a public health issue and saying it’s clear the problem is due to a lack of investment in public infrastructure that has left families to protect themselves against toxic water – something that many communities of color cannot afford.
Voces Unidas understands that problem well, based on our 2022 survey of Latino voters showing that 30% of the 1,500 respondents do not trust or drink the water in their homes. That number increases to 40% among mobile home residents, serving as motivation to work with state lawmakers to introduce legislation to address water quality concerns in mobile home parks at the Colorado State Legislature just this week.
Latino voters in Colorado are also very concerned about climate change and strongly support policies that will transition the state toward a clean energy economy. In addition to favoring policies that incentivize electric vehicles and solar energy in the 2022 poll (69%), there was also strong support for more taxpayer investment in public transportation (60%) and housing developments that foster climate and transportation efficiency. Additionally, Latinos continue to support policies in Colorado that will address drought and clean water access.
Like the Biden administration, we too are working to create new ways of doing things when it comes to climate and environmental justice policy. We are forming new alliances to amplify our priority issues, helping to craft new laws to benefit the historically overlooked and under-served, and finding new answers to old problems like antiquated infrastructure used to deliver drinking water in mobile home parks. We are working to improve affordable housing opportunities that offer clean air and doing our part to defend against drought.
Meaningful change, of course, does not come quickly. But Voces Unidas remains committed to our community and to your concerns and will continue working to strengthen connections with the people who can help us pursue policies capable of making a genuine impact on climate change and environmental justice here in Colorado.