May 2, 2024

WASHINGTON — Today GreenLatinos Founding President & CEO Mark Magaña was proud to be a part of the small delegation of Indigenous, Latino, Asian, and CA conservation leaders that were invited into the White House Oval office to be with President Biden, Vice-President Harris, Secretary Vilsack, Chair Mallory, and CA Senators Padilla and Butler among many other elected and appointed officials to witness the President sign the proclamations expanding the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument at Molok Luyk. In response, GreenLatinos Founding President & CEO Mark Magaña issues the following statement:

“The conservation of Molok Luyuk as part of Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument and the expansion San Gabriel Mountains National Monument is a resounding victory in the America The Beautiful Initiative to provide access to outdoor, nature, and green space to Latino/a/e, Black, Indigenous, Asian, and more communities of color–communities that are disproportionately nature-deprived and overburdened by pollution. GreenLatinos applauds and encourages the Administration’s continued commitment to ensure at least 40% of conservation investments cultivate justice for all. 

These proclamations will ensure that millions of Californians–more than half of which are people of color–have more equitable access to nearby forests as our nation moves one step closer to reaching our national goal of conserving 30% of the country’s lands by 2030. President Biden is making history as leading the most effective, equitable and community-centered track records on climate and conservation. 

GreenLatinos stands ready to help secure long-term funding for maintenance of these expanded monument areas and continue our partnership with the Biden Administration to ensure that they use every tool at their disposal to conserve sacred landscapes; the cultures and histories of all Americans, and ecosystem services that provide clean air, clean water, habitat, recreation, and climate change resilience for historically underserved and marginalized communities.”

Our national community of Latino/a/e climate and conservation leaders celebrate this monumental milestone. ¡Felicidades!

April 30, 2024

WASHINGTON, DC - Today the Biden-Harris Administration announced finalization of its Phase II updates to the environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which included reconciliation of changes that occurred as a result of passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023. Dana Johnson, Senior Director of Strategy and Federal Policy, with WE ACT for Environmental Justice and Irene Burga, Climate and Clean Air Program Director, with GreenLatinos responded as their organizations co-authored technical comments that were submitted to the Council on Environmental Quality on behalf of 88 community-based and environmental justice organizations:

“NEPA is this nation’s bedrock environmental law and an important procedural justice tool for the communities facing a myriad of large-scale infrastructure projects that have the potential to update our water, transportation, housing and energy systems. Frontline communities living in sacrifice zones near industrial facilities, highways, and other dangerous infrastructure experience cumulative exposure from the air pollutants, water pollutants, and soil pollutants from these projects, substantially putting families at risk for cardiovascular diseases, respiratory illnesses, and even premature death. NEPA is the law that empowers our communities to speak out in opposition of harmful projects and break industry’s cycle of using our backyards as dumping grounds.

There has been a constant chipping away at the efficacy of NEPA in service to industry interests since its inception, including the Trump-era attacks in 2020 that this announcement addresses. In these Phase II updates, we are pleased to witness the reinstatement of many core implementation and compliance principles, as well as the inclusion of our recommendations for addressing environmental justice and climate change impacts in this implementation guidance as well as the inclusion of cumulative impacts. These principles, coupled with the $1 billion for NEPA implementation that was passed in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 as a result of our advocacy, can facilitate substantive and impartial environmental review and public engagement processes that center those who will be most impacted by large-scale Federal projects.

Finally, we urge Members of Congress to join the Biden-Harris Administration in prioritizing community voices and upholding the integrity of NEPA. These updated provisions represent a bipartisan effort and incorporate input from frontline groups, who are disproportionately impacted by permitting decisions. We implore Congress to reject any attempts to undermine these vital reforms through industry-influenced Congressional Review Act votes. It's time to prioritize the well-being of our communities and safeguard the essential protections provided by NEPA..” 

By: Andrea Marpillero-Colomina, Sustainable Communities Program Director

EVs are the future of cars, but information about how they work and how much they cost is not accessible to everyone, despite several government programs incentivizing consumers to purchase EVs and huge amounts of federal funding to rapidly expand charging infrastructure. Lower-income families, renters, and people of color have not been adequately reached in EV education and outreach efforts.      

Recognizing this challenge, GreenLatinos, Avanza EV, Citizen Energy, and Ideas for Us embarked on a pilot EV engagement project in two Latino/e communities in Maryland funded by the GM Climate Equity Fund. The project was designed to help low-income Latine/o people understand more about purchasing and using an EV, from navigating charging technology to understanding how to take advantage of the purchase incentives offered by the federal and state government. 

We began the project knowing that lower-income consumers and people of color are less likely to own EVs and to think that EVs are a viable option to them – both in terms of sticker price, or perceptions about how much EVs cost, and a lack of access to charging infrastructure.     

In choosing the project area, we used a census tract map to help determine the percentage of the Latino/e population in both the project areas; Glenmont Forest Apartments had a Latino population of 52.5%, while Sheridan Apartments had 56.8%. During the course of the project, the Avanza EV / Citizen Energy team implemented bilingual EV education for 600 households, and built a contact list of 116 individuals interested in learning more about purchasing an EV.  

To assess the success of our engagement program, GreenLatinos designed a survey (in English and Spanish). This brought some unexpected challenges; early on in the process it became clear to the Avanza EV team the original survey design could not be administered as planned due to participant literacy issues. Towards the end of the engagement program, the Avanza EV team learned that many of the program participants did not know how to read, and therefore were unable to fill out a written survey. Because the deadline was approaching to deliver the project, the Avanza EV team simplified the survey as much as possible and administered it by verbally asking the survey questions and recording the spoken responses on the form. 

Ultimately, the survey was taken by 100 of our participants, and found that a vast majority of participants (76%) are potentially interested in purchasing an EV. 38% answered affirmatively when asked if tax incentives influence their decision-making process when considering an EV, but another 30% said they aren’t sure whether tax incentives are an influencing factor. 

The fact that almost as many of our participants are unsure whether to consider tax incentives as a factor in their decision-making helps to illuminate that we have much more work to do in this arena. What kinds of education and support do potential EV consumers need, and how can programs better reach them? To fully answer these crucial questions as we collectively drive toward an EV future, policymakers and advocates, along with automakers and charging technology companies must fully engage and learn from all communities. Only then will we achieve an EV future for all.