ANNAPOLIS, Md. — With more Latino voters expressing concern about climate change, a new report found a majority of Latinos in the Chesapeake Bay watershed states strongly support more funding for restoration efforts there, and to increase public access to the bay.
Reed Perry, manager of external affairs for the Chesapeake Conservancy, one of the co-sponsors of the report, said the poll shows Latinos care deeply about climate change and the environment.
He thinks policymakers in Maryland and throughout the bay area need to listen to Latino voters since the U.S. Census showed the state is becoming one of the most diverse in the nation.
“The Latino community represents a big and growing population in the area and active when it comes to voting,” Perry explained. “So I think that this poll is a sign of things to come when it comes to advocating for greater resources and greater protections for environmental protection in the region.”
Despite economic challenges from the pandemic, almost 95% of Latinos polled said lawmakers need to continue to fund protections for land, water and wildlife in the bay states. And 93% supported funding to make sure lower-income folks and communities of color have access to parks and natural areas in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Shanna Edberg, director of conservation programs for the Hispanic Access Foundation, which also backed the study, said the Latino population is underrepresented in policymaking on the East Coast, particularly in making laws about the environment.
Yet the report showed Latinos have greater support for climate issues, such as transitioning the country to 100% renewable energy, than other groups.
“There’s this idea that people of color don’t care about the environment, that they have concerns other than conservation and climate change,” Edberg noted. “And this survey completely knocks that idea out of the water.”
The survey also showed 84% of Latino voters would support creating a Chesapeake National Recreation area, managed by the National Park Service. The site would unite new and existing parks in the bay region and help fund its restoration.