I want to share with you some fascinating results we got when the Sierra Club teamed up with Bendixen & Associates in March to conduct the first-ever national survey of Hispanic voters on energy and environmental issues. Previous studies show that environmental pollution and the effects of global warming are felt disproportionately in Hispanic neighborhoods, and some 91% of Hispanics in the United States live in metropolitan areas, where polluted air may increase the risk of illnesses including asthma and cancer.
We wondered: How important are these issues to Hispanic voters, how much responsibility do they feel in helping to solve them -- and are their feelings strong enough to move them to action? The answers, in short: They're deeply connected to nature and are concerned about the environment enough to take action to protect their communities and their families.
First, we found that 80% of Hispanic voters view "energy and global warming" to be one of the two most important environmental problems for their families (the other was clean air and water).The findings of our poll also include strong evidence that Hispanic voters:
–Overwhelmingly (80%) said that energy and environmental issues have "a lot" or "some" impact on the quality of life and health of their families. These voters have a high level of exposure to toxic sites.
–Clearly (more than 90%) feel a moral responsibility to take care of God’s creation on Earth, such as forests, oceans, lakes and rivers.
–Believe strongly (80%) that the government and big oil companies are most responsible for the rising price of gasoline and oil in the United States.
–Confidently (more than 80%) agree that "shifting to a new 'clean energy economy' could create millions of jobs, improve the quality of the environment and protect everyone's children."
–Recognize that they can help protect the environment through the personal choices they make.
We've talked about the Sierra Club's Environmental Justice Program before, and this poll will be yet another useful tool for everyone in continuing to engage the Hispanic community on environmental issues: 73% of those polled said they were willing to take action.
There is a strong heritage of Hispanic activists as well, so that 73% number should be no surprise. The poll also showed that 93% of those polled agreed with the statement "I have a moral responsibility to take care of the creations of God on this earth – the wilderness and forests, the oceans, the lakes and the rivers."
What is unfortunate is how few low-income Hispanic voters have received information about global warming. Our poll showed that only 18% of Hispanics who make less than $25,000/year have received "a lot information" about global warming. Clearly, more outreach is needed. It's vital that these communities be fully engaged in the national dialogue.
If you'd like to read the complete polling information, we have a whole page set up for it.