Edward James Olmos Slams Prop 23 In NRDC Ad

An anti-Proposition 23 ad by Edward James Olmos’ for the National Resources Defense Counsel (NRDC) appeared on YouTube in July in English and Spanish. Olmos said in the ad, “Don’t let polluters from Texas tell us how to live.” Considering Olmos is a household name, the ad is a great campaign tactic.

The ad is a great campaign tactic for another reason: it targets Latino voters. While a 2009 study by the Field Poll found that the amount of white voters declined from 83 to 65 percent in the last three decades, Latinos almost tripled to 21 percent. The majority of California’s Latinos (87 percent) surveyed by the Public Policy Institute of California this summer believe that the government should regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Latinos in California are particularly vulnerable to pollution. A post for the Center for American Progress (CAP) said Prop 23 “will make it easier for the worst polluters to continue poisoning Latino communities, exacerbate unemployment in industries where Latinos are already suffering, and weaken opportunities for jobs and wealth building for Latinos in the green economy.”

The CAP post cites a 2007 study of the Bay Area that found over half of Latinos live within a mile or two of a Toxics Release Inventory facility the EPA tracked. The study also found that 17 percent of Latinos have the “most risk” for cancer, and 24 percent have “highest hazard ratio” for respiratory disease.

The CAP post also cited three California areas where Latinos are exposed to pollution:

  • San Diego’s Barrio Logan neighborhood, where Latinos comprise 85 percent of residents, and the asthma rate is 28 percent, four times the national average
  • The Central Valley, where Latinos are 30 percent of population, and six of the most polluted counties in the country are in the Central Valley
  • Los Angeles County, where Latinos are 44 percent of the population, but comprise 60 percent of the population living within a half mile of the top 100 emitters of toxic pollutants in the county

The Latino Issue Forum is a public policy and advocacy organization. The following statistics are taken from the organization’s website:

  • One in six Latinos in California are diagnosed with asthma
  • Almost 90 percent of U.S. farm workers are Latino, and Latino farm workers are found to have a 59 to 69 percent greater risk of getting stomach, cervical, and uterine cancer, and some Leukimias compared to other Latinos in California
  • Freeways and other main transportation hubs are “disproportionately located in Latino or other low income communities,” which means those communities are impacted the most by diesel pollution
  • 41 percent of Latinos are likely to report respiratory problems in their households

Perhaps Ian Kim of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights sums up best how Proposition 23 will affect the Latino community: “Proposition 23 will hurt low-income communities and people of color first and worst. This Dirty Energy proposition will make air pollution worse and jobs more scarce, especially in communities already burdened by too much pollution and poverty.”

Or in the words of Olmos, “California doesn’t need more pollution.”


Our Propostion 23 series is made possible by EOS Climate – a producer of high-quality, verified emission reductions (VERs) generated from the destruction of ozone depleting substances (ODS). Please thank them for their support!

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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