Despite speaking for 78 minutes, President Donald Trump failed to utter one essential phrase in his annual State of the Union address this week: “climate change.”
It should come as little surprise. This is an administration that has no plan to protect our families against carbon pollution and has not only willfully ignored the very dangerous realities of climate change, but has done everything in its power to eviscerate protections that were put into place to mitigate these threats to public health and the environment.
He may have swept it under the rug in his speech, but Trump’s dirty environmental agenda is a slap in the face to Latinx communities in Arizona and across the country. Climate change and pollution disproportionately affect Latinx communities. Latinx people are more likely to work in environments that are deeply impacted by the effects of climate change, such as agriculture, manufacturing, and construction. And Latinx people are 51 percent more likely than non-Hispanic whites to live in counties with unsafe ozone levels, further exacerbating asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
While Trump ignored climate change in his address to the nation, he’s certainly doing his best to dismantle the fight that we have led to reduce the impacts of the climate crisis. Trump is responsible for the rollbacks of nearly 100 public health and environment protections. Under his watch, the Environmental Protection Agency has abandoned life-saving health protections included in the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. He’s proposed slashing the EPA’s budget, leaving the agency unable to monitor big polluters. In fact, EPA enforcement actions have dropped around 80 percent under Trump. Additionally, Trump continues to ignore established science and has removed scientists from key agencies that oversee public health and the environment.
Meanwhile, Arizona is ground zero for climate change. Over the summer, our community experienced more than 126 days of extreme heat; that’s 126 days where the temperature climbed to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This isn’t just uncomfortable, it’s dangerous and life-threatening to our families. Nearly 200,000 Arizonans are particularly vulnerable to extreme heat, and in 2017, 155 Arizonans died from heat-related deaths. Extreme heat can also make ozone pollution worse. In 2019, the city of Phoenix had 39 days that have exceeded the ozone threshold, giving our residents some of the worst air quality in the United States. It could not be clearer that the climate crisis is already making air pollution and extreme weather worse for communities all across our state.
As Trump guts vital environmental safeguards and Arizona burns, we need Senators Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema to stand up for our Latinx community. McSally has failed to even support legislation to ensure the US meets its global commitments to act on climate under the Paris Agreement, a measure that Sinema supports. She has stood by as Trump and his EPA tore apart the myriad of safeguards designed to protect our climate and our families’ health. And she has helped install his cabinet of dirty deputies.
McSally stood up frequently during the State of the Union, cheering on Trump as he continued spewing lies. Now, it is time for her to stand up for Arizonans by supporting legislation to move us closer to a 100% clean energy economy, which will take immediate climate action that will protect our health.
She needs to have a plan to address the carbon pollution driving climate change. Instead, she is ignoring the consequences that climate change is having on the people she represents, Arizona’s most vulnerable communities.
Arizonans are counting on McSally to oppose Trump’s dirty agenda and start solving the climate crisis. While Trump swept past climate change in his speech, McSally still has an opportunity to take constructive actions, to think big, to act boldly. We demand immediate action to ensure the well-being of Latinx communities.
Our lives are at stake.