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February 26, 2013 by Jennifer Brandt
By Gabriel Sanchez, Director of Research on 12/05/2012
In the wake of the 2012 presidential election, the Latino vote in states like Colorado has been held up as a critical and influential factor. Latino voters turned out in record high numbers and their 75% vote for President Obama nationally set a new high for a Democratic presidential candidate. While much of the attention has been on changes to immigration policy, Latino voters, like all voters, are paying attention to a wide variety of issues. In Western states like Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona protecting the environment is an issue that Latino voters care very deeply about, and they expect politicians to take action to protect the environment.
Following the election, President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a new and balanced approach to energy development in the West, with respect to oil shale development and research. While some had called for unrestricted and unfettered oil shale development, many environmental leaders, including prominent Latino leaders called for a plan that balanced energy needs and protecting the environment. The new plan opens up new land for oil shale development, but only after research is carried out to prove the viability and potential impact on water resources.
Maite Arce, executive director of the Hispanic Access Foundation stated very clearly: “We needed a smart approach to oil shale development and Secretary Salazar deserves credit for making this a priority for Colorado, and for the state’s Latinos, which make up a significant portion of the state’s population and depend on Colorado River and water supplies for their quality of life and economic opportunity. Costly, water-hungry oil shale speculation would put western families’ health and safety at risk.”
According to polling by Latino Decisions and Nuestro Rio, Latino voters in Colorado strongly agree with an approach. When asked about the best approach to oil shale development, 70% of Colorado Latinos said the federal government should require companies to complete research and prove they can produce oil shale in a way that will not harm water and air resources. Only 17% of Latino voters opposed these federal guidelines.
What’s more, when asked how this would impact their possible vote when evaluating two competing candidates, by a 3-to-1 margin, Latino voters in Colorado said that they prefer a candidate who wants oil companies to research the issue and prove it won’t harm the environment. While 60% support a candidate who wants a research first approach, just 20% support a candidate that wants to let oil companies get started right away without the extra review.
In a statement released just after the announcement by Salazar, Colorado Senator Mark Udall presented a view consistent with what Latino voters in Colorado are saying. Udall, who faces re-election in 2014 praised the new decision, saying ”I am glad the Interior Department is taking measured steps to encourage research and development of our oil shale resources. With water being one of our most precious commodities in the West, I have concerns about the potential impacts of commercial oil shale development. Nonetheless, I look forward to seeing this technology explored further.”
Not only do Latino voters support government role in protecting the environment, they rate environmental protection as among the most important issues they face. While issues like the economy and immigration reform tended to dominate the media coverage of Latino voters, when we asked how important protecting the environment was to their vote, almost 40% rated it as “one of the most important issues in 2012″ and another 38% said it was fairly important. Combined, well over 75% of Latino voters in Colorado identify environmental protection as a salient issue to their vote. Only 2% of Latinos said the environment was “not at all important”
According to Andres Ramirez, Director of Nuestro Rio, the connection between Latinos and protecting the environment is clear: “The Colorado River doesn’t just run through the southwest; it runs through our culture and it nourishes our lives.Saving the Colorado River is about protecting our Latino heritage and promoting our future.”
Even beyond Colorado, polling by Latino Decisions found that government involvement in protecting the environment was a top priority for Latino voters in other Western states including Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona. Across all four western states, over 70% of Latino voters saying protecting rivers and lakes is “very important” and an additional 20% or so who say it is “somewhat important.” For nearly all Latino voters across these key battleground states in the West, there is a strong belief that the federal government should play a role in protecting the environment and natural water resources. Further, Latinos are strong supporters of conservation. When asked if we should divert more water out of rivers and lakes so we can use it now, or be more efficient and careful with the water we already have, eight in ten Latino voters favor conservation. By any measure, polling data from Latino Decisions clearly finds Latino voters in Colorado and other Western states to be very strong supporters of protecting the environment.
Gabriel R. Sanchez is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Assistant Director of the RWJF Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico, and Research Director for Latino Decisions
February 13, 2013 by Jennifer Brandt
WASHINGTON – Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF) President Maite Arce released the following statement regarding President Obama’s nomination of Sally Jewell, CEO of Recreational Equipment, Inc., for Secretary of Interior:
“Sally Jewell is an excellent choice for Interior Secretary. Protecting our parks and public lands, as well as securing clean air and water, is a top issue for Latinos. And it’s one that Ms. Jewell understands on both personal and economic levels.
“As CEO of REI, Ms. Jewell built a track record for fostering the passion of the outdoors in youth and Latinos throughout the country. Her vision to engage Latinos in nature and conservation programs is one that we hope she advances in this new role.
“Ms. Jewell shares the commitment of organizations such as Hispanic Access Foundation to protect the places that matter to our communities and our families. We look forward to working with her to preserve our heritage for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.”
Since its founding in 2010, HAF has made building environmental awareness among Latinos, going outdoors and empowering advocates a top priority. The organization has initiated several projects on the environment including its recent effort to raise awareness about extending protection to Browns Canyon in Colorado and exposing Latinos to the outdoors. As part of that project, HAF took over 60 Hispanic youth to that area for a weekend of camping and rafting, and then brought a dozen youth to Washington to speak with legislators, the White House and the National Park Service director.
November 19, 2012 by Jennifer Brandt
Latino Groups Commend Decision By Interior Secretary to Restrict Oil Shale Operations and Protect Colorado’s Water Supply
Clean water and healthier communities scored a crucial victory in Colorado on November 9, when Interior Secretary Ken Salazar decided to protect the state from oil shale speculation.
On Nov. 9, the Department of the Interior released a plan that would require oil shale companies to provide solid proof that their activities will balance the state’s economic and environmental needs before starting any commercial exploitation. Reversing a Bush-era decision that would have given industry free reign on 2 million acres of public lands, BLM’s plan effectively protects 1.6 million acres of public land, as well as areas of critical wildlife habitat.
Latino organizations, including the Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF) and Nuestro Río, welcomed the Salazar decision and reminded the public about the Latino community’s overwhelming support for protection of public lands and the safety and reliability of their water supply.
“We needed a smart approach to oil shale development and Secretary Salazar deserves credit for making this a priority for Colorado, and for the state’s Latinos, which make up a significant portion of the state’s population and depend on the Colorado River and water supplies for their quality of life and economic opportunity,” said Maite Arce, executive director of HAF. “Costly, water-hungry oil shale speculation would put Western families’ health and safety at risk.”
According to a recent Sierra Club national survey conducted in cooperation with NCLR, more than nine in 10 (92%) Latino voters agree that they “have a moral responsibility to take care of God’s creation on this earth —the wilderness, the forests, the oceans, lakes and rivers.”
Also, the survey found that nearly seven in 10 (69%) Latino voters support presidential designations of more public land as national monuments.
“The Colorado River doesn’t just run through the Southwest, it runs through our culture and it nourishes our lives,” said Andrés Ramírez, Director at Nuestro Río. “Saving the Colorado River is about protecting our Latino heritage and promoting our future.”
Indeed, a survey by Colorado College conducted in Western states earlier this year revealed that 87 percent of Hispanics believe we can protect the environment at the same time we work for a strong economy.
In addition, the poll found that 89 percent of Hispanic respondents agreed that resources must be invested in preserving their state’s land, water and wildlife, regardless of the current budgetary crisis.
Estimates by the Government Accountability Office have projected that full-scale oil shale development could require more than 123 billion gallons of water each year, enough water for more than 750,000 households. Additionally, the mining and processing of oil shale can leach toxic metals and pollutants, such as lead and arsenic, into rivers and groundwater. BLM’s plan takes a step in the right direction by limiting the amount of public land that could be subjected to oil shale development. Rather than promoting high-risk, high-cost technologies like oil shale, we need to begin the transition to clean, efficient fuels that benefit both our economy and our land, water, and public health.
- By Javier Sierra
Article from SierraClub.org
November 9, 2012 by Jennifer Brandt
WASHINGTON – Today, the nonprofit Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF) commended Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for adopting a common-sense plan to protect Colorado’s water from oil shale speculation.
“We needed a smart approach to oil shale development and Secretary Salazar deserves credit for making this a priority for Colorado, and for the state’s Latinos, which make up a significant portion of the state’s population and depend on Colorado River and water supplies for their quality of life and economic opportunity,” said Maite Arce, executive director of HAF. “Costly, water-hungry oil shale speculation would put western families’ health and safety at risk.”
A significant portion of western Latinos supports this sentiment. Released last month, a Latino Decisions poll commissioned by Nuestro Rio showed that 70 percent of those surveyed favor a plan requiring oil companies to complete successful research of oil shale technologies, and its potential impact to western water prior to commercial development on public lands.
The Salazar plan released today would require oil shale companies to conduct successful research and development projects and prove the economic and ecological viability of oil shale prior to commercial leasing.
“The Colorado River doesn’t just run through the southwest; it runs through our culture and it nourishes our lives,” said Andres Ramirez, Director at Nuestro Rio. “Saving the Colorado River is about protecting our Latino heritage and promoting our future.”
Estimates by the Government Accountability Office have projected that full-scale oil shale development could require more than 123 billion gallons of water each year, enough water for more than 750,000 households. Additionally, the mining and processing of oil shale can leach toxic metals and pollutants, such as lead and arsenic, into rivers and groundwater. These concerns have led to other states in the region such as Arizona and Nevada, to take an active interest in the protection of their Colorado River water supplies.
In September, HAF launched an ad campaign with the message “Don’t Let Oil Shale Drain Our Water Away” to educate Latinos about the risk oil shale production could pose to water quality and quantity. For more information about oil shale and the need to protect western water, visit www.safeguardwater.org.
October 31, 2012 by Jennifer Brandt
Samantha Marquez, at just 14 years old, had six patents (international included) and was performing research at Virginia Commonwealth University and Harvard University.
Today, Samantha is one of five high school students on the US team competing at the 2012 XX International Space Olympics (ISO) in Korolev, Russia this month. In fact, on October 22, Samantha won 1st place in research, becoming the first Hispanic to win 1st place ever in the 20-year history of the ISO.
Samantha was also recently highlighted by American Scientist magazine and named one of Style Weekly’s “2012 Top 40-Under-40.”
She also became the only Hispanic inducted into the National Gallery of America’s Young Inventors in 2011. She was inducted into what is ultimately the Young Investors Hall of Fame at for her work with in bioengineering.
Samantha has developed a new process for the self-assembly of living cells in a new structure she named “Celloidosomes®.” Her work, creating 3D micro-tissues, has applications in tissue engineering, bioengineering, environmental science, genetic engineering, and cell/drug delivery as well as many other fields of science.
She has also co-authored several scientific publications, recently being published in the June 2012 journal Biomicrofluids and The Journal of Physics.
Keep in mind, Samantha Marquez is still only a 15-year-old sophomore at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, and one realizes just how impressive this young woman is.
With role models like her mother, Dr. Carolina Marun, a chemical engineer, and her father, Dr. Manuel Marquez, a chemist and researcher, Samantha is developing into a one of a kind mind, and really is a Hispanic Standout.
Read an additional article about Samantha here.