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Photo: barragan.house.gov
Photo: barragan.house.gov

Nanette Barragán pushes environmental justice legislation to aid communities of color

Barragán urges the House to address the climate and jobs crisis intensified during COVID-19 and to confront environmental racism.

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Low income communities and Black, and Latinx people have been long affected by the dangers of climate change and pollution across the nation.

At the same time, House Democrats have been attempting to insert financial help for clean energy initiatives into upcoming bills in an effort to aid the job losses caused by the pandemic.

Clean energy groups say the sector has lost about 600,000 jobs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Rep. Nanette D. Barragán (CA-44) is one Latina politician who is constantly fighting to end environmental racism. She says these racial inequalities have been intensified amid a pandemic that has disproportionately affected Black and Latinx lives.

“For too long, communities of color, Black and brown communities have suffered environmental injustice,” said Barragán, speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington D.C.

"For too long, these same communities have been on the front lines of environmental air pollution that has caused higher rates of cancer and asthma. And with COVID-19, more deaths," she continued.

In California, the Port of Los Angeles and the surrounding freeways are a big source of air pollution in Barragán’s community. Yes, the port is a huge economic engine, but Barragán says investing in zero emission technology at ports like it is an investment in her people.

“CA-44 has some of the worst air quality in the country. It’s dangerous and it’s an environmental injustice.” Barragán said on Twitter.

“For too long these communities have literally said ‘I can’t breathe.’ In my very own district, it is surrounded by three freeways and the Port of Los Angeles. Ports give critical jobs, they provide movement of goods, they’re a huge economic engine. But they are also the cause of air pollution on the docks. Not to mention the truck traffic that goes to and from the ports,” Barragán continued in her argument on the House floor.

She, along with Chellie Pingree (Maine), Jared Huffman (Calif.), Alcee L. Hastings (Fla.) and Brenda Lawrence (Mich.) are urging the House leadership to support a green stimulus investment as Congress prepares the next COVID-19 relief and recovery packages.

In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, they argue support will ensure that the nation’s economic recovery “jump-starts” job creation in sectors like Clean Energy that will put Americans to work while building a healthier and resilient economy.

“While we must address the immediate pandemic, our country cannot afford inaction on the overlapping jobs and climate crises, both of which continue to exacerbate the ongoing public health crisis,” the letter reads.

The letter comes as the House is set on the Moving Forward Act, which includes billions in green investments to create jobs and reduce pollution – with a particular focus on communities of color.

“This bill will invest billions in zero emission technology at ports and for clean trucks  that go to and from ports. That’s right, zero emissions. Bottom line is, it will save lives, create jobs, and fight the climate crisis,” said Barrágan to end her speech. 

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