By Jessica Goad
A poll released last week by the Sierra Club and the National Council of La Raza contains a number of significant findings about the views that Latino voters hold on the environment and public lands conservation. The “2012 Latinos and the Environment Survey” found that nearly unanimously, members of this constituency see the enormous social and economic value of America’s great outdoors.
Key findings show:
– 90 percent of Latino voters agree that “protecting our land and water is critical to our economy and the ability to maintain and create jobs now and in the future.”
– 86 percent say that “national parks and monuments support millions of jobs across the United States. Protecting our public lands benefits the economy and creates jobs.”
– 91 percent agree with the statement that “hiking, camping, fishing, and other outdoor activities are part of my community’s way of life; protecting land and water protects my culture, my family and my community.”
The U.S. Census reports that in 2010, 41 percent of the country’s Hispanics lived in the West, which is also where the majority of federal public lands are located. As was shown in a poll from Colorado College’s State of the Rockies Project earlier this year, westerners overall have a strong connection to land conservation and its economic value. More specifically, there are several local campaigns throughout the region asking the president to designate new national monuments, such as those to protect the Organ Mountains and Rio Grande del Norte in New Mexico.
When asked specifically about the president’s authority to designate national monuments under the Antiquities Act, respondents to the Sierra Club and National Council of La Raza survey were strongly supportive. The question posed “would you favor or oppose designating more of our existing public lands as National Monuments?” Sixty-nine percent answered that they would be in favor of this action.
But rather than respond to these appeals for more protected places for future generations, Congress has failed to send a single land protection bill to the president. Moreover, public lands are under attack from a number of western Republicans who have introduced bills that would sell them off, throw them open to reckless drilling, and roll back environmental laws.
Jessica is the Manager of Research and Outreach for the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.