Member Sign-on Letter Highlights Importance of Funding Health and Human Services Office of Climate and Health Equity
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 2, 2022
Contact: Kevin McGuire
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán, the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Climate Change Task Force, led 10 of her Congressional Hispanic Caucus colleagues on a letter to House and Senate Democratic Appropriators requesting they prioritize at least $3 million in funding for the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
This request is consistent with the President’s FY23 budget request, and funding provided in Democrats’ House and Senate FY23 appropriations bills. The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity is responsible for leading HHS’s efforts to protect vulnerable communities who are disproportionally affected by pollution and climate-driven disasters, including Latino communities.
“The climate crisis is disproportionately impacting the health of Latino communities. Latinos have borne the brunt of power outages due to heat waves. These extreme weather events have been compounded by the fact that Latinos are 21% more likely than whites to live in urban heat islands; areas that are surrounded by asphalt and concrete. Exposure to the harmful effects of extreme heat leads to respiratory difficulties, heat cramps, exhaustion, and heat-related mortality. This is especially challenging for Latino households, since 30% do not have air conditioning and over 40% are energy insecure. In addition, farmworkers are 20 times more likely than other outdoor workers to die from extreme heat, and Latinos make up 75% of farmworkers.” the members of Congress wrote.
The HHS Office of Climate Change and Health Equity was established in August 2021 to address the impact of climate change on the health of the American people. The $3 million in FY23 dedicated federal funding will allow the Office to coordinate an all-of-government approach to address the disproportionate health effects of climate change on communities of color. Absent this funding, the Office would have to rely on temporarily assigned staff, limiting its ability to assist Latino communities and communities of color.
In June of 2022, Congresswoman Barragán hosted Admiral Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary at HHS, to highlight the disproportionate impacts of ongoing lead contamination at Jordan High School in Watts in her district. Barragán has continued to work with the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity on the lead contamination and pollution issue in and around the high school.
Congresswoman Barragán was joined on the letter by Congressmembers Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.), Jesús García (Ill.), Grace Napolitano (Calif.), Adriano Espaillat (N.Y.), Joaquin Castro (Texas), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Tony Cárdenas (Calif.), Salud Carbajal (Calif.), Darren Soto (Fla.), Linda Sánchez (Calif.)
A PDF of the letter is linked here.
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Nanette Diaz Barragán is proud to represent California’s 44th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington. She serves as chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Border Security, and on the House Energy and Commerce Health, Energy, and Environment & Climate Change Subcommittees.