Greenville News

Evelyn Lugo, June 14, 2015

By 2025, Hispanics will make up almost one-third of America’s workforce. As we grow and invest in our communities across the country, we must make sure the Latino voice is heard in the most important areas of American policy — those that affect the most vulnerable populations in our community.

A recent New York Times poll shows what we already know; the Hispanic community is ready to take on climate change. And the only way to do that is through supporting clean technology like nuclear energy.

As Hispanic families face the uncertainty of climate change, nuclear power offers a consistent and affordable solution for the entire nation. As the Times points out, politics often focuses on what a dollar means here and now. But with the livelihoods of so many low-income Hispanic Americans on the line, we need to focus on long-term solutions that solve the problem of climate change.

With nuclear power, we don’t have to choose between affordable energy and saving the environment. But due to misconceptions about its safety, and temporary market pressures and low cost energy sources such as natural gas, nuclear energy is also facing an uncertain future.

The Times’ poll found that Hispanics widely believe global warming will directly affect our lives. In fact, 54 percent of Hispanics indicated global warming was an issue of great importance to them. A significant 67 percent acknowledge that if nothing is done to mitigate climate change, global warming will personally harm their wellbeing.

And, in light of this, 63 percent of Hispanics support federal regulations and action to fight global warming head-on.

As the poll notes, low-income Hispanic communities have a greater awareness of climate change due to either their relying on the agriculture industry for employment or seeing their homes and neighborhoods negatively affected by pollution. But it’s not just the low-income Hispanic communities that will face the ongoing health effects of pollution.

Because nuclear energy supplies 64 percent of our country’s clean energy, the loss of this carbon-free energy source will significantly impact the whole country. And the choices to replace nuclear energy all are far less efficient or produce more pollutants, or in most cases, both.

I fully believe that nuclear energy is a necessary component of our energy mix if we expect to see any remedies to the climate problems facing us in the future.

As this country becomes more dependent on technology, demand for electricity will only grow. Only nuclear energy meets those immediate needs while cutting back on carbon and other pollutants that cause climate change while we continue to improve the efficiency rates and costs of our other clean-energy options. Nuclear power is an emissions-free solution that provides an extraordinary amount of energy at a sustainable, safe and affordable rate. The Latino community knows the cost of not facing climate change head-on and should embrace this type of long-term solution to cutting emissions.

As the Latino community looks to have their voice heard in technology and climate change, we must not forget that nuclear energy is safe, reliable, affordable, and — most importantly — emissions free. Our voice and passion in issues like climate change, mean we must work to make sure we help shape America’s technology future.

Evelyn Lugo is president of the South Carolina Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that represents the growing Hispanic business community. For more information go to