For Hispanic Families, Affordable Energy is Key

Hispanic families and businesses are thriving in the United States. Our nation's more than 53 million Hispanics are playing a vital role in America's economy. To ensure that opportunities for our families and communities continue to grow, we must support balanced energy solutions.

Upward mobility relies heavily on disposable income and wealth creation. Consequently, multicultural families need access to affordable energy that comes from a diverse portfolio of fuel sources, including clean coal. Affordable energy deeply impacts our everyday lives. Without it, families can be left with overwhelming energy costs that would negatively impact quality of life. In addition, families faced with rising electricity bills are often forced to make tough financial choices -- just to keep the lights on.

Recent reports estimate that 62 percent of Hispanic households have annual incomes below $50,000, of which about 20 percent goes to pay for energy -- like gasoline for our cars and electricity for our homes. We all know that family budgets aren't keeping up with energy costs; so we must ensure that electricity and gasoline prices stay as low and stable as possible.

For low- and middle-income Hispanic families, these growing energy costs are competing with basic needs like housing, food and health care. They are not alone. Hispanic businesses, which have doubled to 3.2 million in the last ten years, are also struggling to meet rising energy costs. Despite these challenges, Hispanic businesses create millions of American jobs and are valuable contributors to our nation's economic recovery. However, when business owners encounter unpredictable energy costs, they are forced to make tough decisions about staff resources that often result in cutbacks. These cutbacks leave members of our community underemployed and too often unemployed, which trickles down to other businesses, undermining their potential for success and profitability.

Small business owners understand, firsthand, how vital affordable energy is to their livelihoods. They also recognize the importance of investing in and developing clean energy technology. According to a poll conducted by the Small Business Majority, minority-owned businesses are more supportive of clean energy policies. Importantly, 68 percent of Hispanic business owners believe that developing a national clean energy portfolio could help jump-start the U.S. economy.

Energy costs impact everyone in our communities -- from families to businesses to schools to hospitals. America must pursue a balanced energy policy that promotes the use of affordable resources like clean coal, and also works to usher America into a sustainable energy future. The Hispanic community is poised to play an important role in advocating for these important policies that will bring growth and promise to America's economy.