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Fighting climate change for low-income communities in Southern Nevada

Posted at 6:56 PM, Aug 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 17:15:29-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Breathe Free NV promotes clean energy solutions for low-income families. Their work includes these communities in the climate change conversation and fight for clean air, showing what it means to be positively Las Vegas.

This side of the climate change discussion sometimes gets overlooked or pushed to the side.

Make It Work Nevada Deputy Director Quentin Savwoir says, "Paid family leave, affordable childcare, housing or sustainability are all related to environmental justice in one way or another."

Low-income Black, indigenous, and Nevadans of color are living in areas with rising temperatures, just like all of Southern Nevada. A new study shows these communities are more likely to work near harmful pollution, lack access to clean energy, live in urban heat islands, pay more for energy bills and transportation cost, and get left out of clean energy solutions that could lower bills and improve health.

Battle Born Progress, a Nevada-based organization that is a part of Breathe Free NV explained:

"North Las Vegas and Las Vegas were both one of the top 10 cities in the country where the lowest income households live in the hottest neighborhoods," said deputy director Maria-Teresa Liebermann-Parraga.

RELATED: It's National Air Quality Awareness Week and Nevada is failing

The study, done by Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy, highlights that reducing greenhouse gas emissions isn’t enough. Efforts also need to focus on decarbonization - an economy built with low-carbon power sources.

"We’re trying to re-center that narrative so that it isn’t just solely about science. It’s not just solely about air quality. Again, those things are important but how do you make air quality important to the mom that’s working third shift, with 4 kids, trying to home-school them during the day and then getting ready for work at night. You have to talk about it in practical terms. You have to talk about it in terms like 'hey wouldn’t it be cool if you had a sidewalk? Wouldn’t it be cool if you could walk to your grocery store? Wouldn’t it be cool if your kid didn’t have asthma and they aren’t taking in this toxic air that’s historically going to be in low-income and marginalized communities?'" said Savwoir.

The report urges lawmakers to switch to more electric energy across the board to reduce pollution. Also, introduce electric appliances and efficient energy to low-income families and make sure they have easy access to public transportation.

"What a lot of us who come from these neighborhoods and have lived these experiences have said... we have been suffering the consequences for a long time but our solutions aren’t catching up to actually help these neighborhoods and communities. So hopefully this report shows that we need to do better," says Liebermann-Parraga.

All in all, these organizations want public officials to acknowledge that pollution sources have historically been placed in these neighborhoods and to break down those barriers of access and education during the next legislative session. If you want to check out the report or learn more about Breath Free NV click here.