A Life-Saving Clean Power Plan in the Hands of a US Court

Your future and that of your family is on trial at a court in Washington, DC. On Sept. 27, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral arguments about the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the country's most significant federal initiative to fight climate change, and then decide whether it will ever be implemented.

Attorneys from both sides will present their views and answer the judges' questions about the legal arguments submitted to the court months ago.

And for us Latinos, this is a critical decision. We disproportionately suffer the consequences of climate change and the fossil fuel pollution that causes it.

The Obama administration's EPA finalized the CPP in 2015 to curb power plant carbon emissions for the first time ever. These plants generate 40 percent of the climate change pollution. The initiative would reduce these emissions by 32 percent in relation to 2005 levels by 2030.

For Latinos these reductions are literally a matter of life and death. Almost 40 percent of us live dangerously close to a coal-burning plant, which translates into high rates of asthma --especially among our children--, emphysema, heart disease, cancer and premature death.

By 2030, according to the EPA, the CPP would prevent 3,600 premature deaths, 1,700 heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks and the loss of 300,000 school and work days every year. Also annually, the plan would save us all some $54 billion in health care costs, prevent the emission of 870 million tons of carbon and drastically reduce the dumping of dangerous compounds, such as sulfur and nitrogen oxides.

Speaking of savings, the CPP could bring down your electric bill by up to $17 a month, something hundreds of thousands of Latino households would really welcome as we pay a higher percentage of our income in power bills.

And to top it all off, the CPP could usher in a full-force clean energy economy generating millions of jobs, mainly in the sectors of the economy that employ the most Latinos, such as construction and manufacturing.

A plan that fights climate change and the fossil fuel pollution that causes it, that saves money for electricity users and creates good paying jobs? It's no wonder 82 percent of Latinos support the immediate implementation of the CPP. The plan could and should go even further to ensure that communities of color benefit from pollution reductions, so some environmental justice groups do not support it because it does not go far enough.

Attorneys general from 27 states, upon the urging of the dirty energy industry, early this year persuaded the Supreme Court to stay the implementation of the CPP, while the Circuit Court decided the merits of this brilliant idea.

The plaintiffs and their allies brandish the absurd argument that the hopes of our community's prosperity rest on a dirty energy economy, which in reality inflicts a daily punishment on the health of millions of Latinos and puts the future of the planet in grave risk.

The fossil fuel industry are trying to scare us all with fantastic predictions of impending ruin if the initiative is implemented, the same predictions polluters and the dirty energy industry have been foretelling for decades and that have never become reality.

A few weeks ago, Pope Francisco warned the world that destroying the environment is a sin, urging us all to act on the climate crisis. He added taking care of the God's creation must be added to the traditional Christian acts of compassion, including feeding the hungry and caring for the sick.