House Natural Resources Members, Leading Latino Organizations Conclude Historic Roundtable on an Inclusive Conservation Agenda

"Expanding the environmental coalition and including communities of interest in decision-making are priorities not just for me and my colleagues, but for millions of Americans who have felt unheard and left out for too long." — Congressman Raúl Grijalva

"Expanding the environmental coalition and including communities of interest in decision-making are priorities not just for me and my colleagues, but for millions of Americans who have felt unheard and left out for too long." — Congressman Raúl Grijalva

Representatives RuÍz and Tsongas (Left to right), confer with Rod Torrez of HECHO, Maite Arce of Hispanic Access Foundation, José Davila of Hispanic Federation, and Mark Magaña of Green Latinos at the historic meeting at the U.S. Capitol Building.
Representatives RuÍz and Tsongas (Left to right), confer with Rod Torrez of HECHO, Maite Arce of Hispanic Access Foundation, José Davila of Hispanic Federation, and Mark Magaña of Green Latinos at the historic meeting at the U.S. Capitol Building.

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Members of the House Natural Resources Committee held a groundbreaking roundtable discussion today with six of the country’s leading Latino organizations as part of Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva’s efforts to build a broader environmental coalition with an inclusive agenda for the 114th Congress and beyond. The meeting focused on how Members of Congress and Latino groups can work together on issues important to constituents and group members alike, including climate change, clean energy, water resources, support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, preserving cultural antiquities, and including more public input in making major federal environmental decisions through the National Environmental Policy Act.

Since becoming Ranking Member, Grijalva has emphasized the need bring new partners into the national environmental policy conversation. Today’s roundtable is the beginning of ongoing efforts to include communities of interest that have historically not been well represented in environmental decisionmaking.

Attendees included:

Members of Congress

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (Ariz.) – Ranking Member, Natural Resources Committee Rep. Niki Tsongas (Mass.) – Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Federal Lands Rep. Raul Ruiz (Calif.) – Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Rep. Debbie Dingell (Mich.) – Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Rep. Grace Napolitano (Calif.) Rep. Norma Torres (Calif.) Rep. Don Beyer (Va.) Rep. Ruben Gallego (Ariz)

Latino Organizations

Brent Wilkes, Executive Director, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Jose Davila, Vice President of Policy and Government Relations, Hispanic Federation (HF) Mark Magana, President, GreenLatinos Maite Arce, President and CEO, Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF) Rod Torrez, Communication Strategist, Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and Outdoors (HECHO) Marce Gutierrez, Director, Azul/La Madre Tierra

“Expanding the environmental coalition and including communities of interest in decision-making are priorities not just for me and my colleagues, but for millions of Americans who have felt unheard and left out for too long. It’s time for everyone, on and off Capitol Hill, to work closely together on issues that impact us all. I’m happy to bring today’s stakeholders together and look forward to many more opportunities to come. Today’s event was the beginning of a much larger effort, and I extend my sincere thanks to everyone who made it a success,” said Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva.

“In my district, in cities like Lawrence and Lowell, I have seen first-hand the transformative power that open spaces and environmentalism can have in urban communities. I am looking forward to engaging with Ranking Member Grijalva and national Hispanic leaders to learn more about the great work being done across the country in Hispanic communities to promote conservation and environmental stewardship,” said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas.

“The state of our environment has a direct impact on the health and well being of our nation,” said Dr. Raul Ruiz. “Many Latino communities across Sothern California are disproportionately impacted by poor air and water quality. Roundtable discussionIs like this one are critical to expanding the conversation on environmental justice, how the health of our communities are impacted by environmental factors, and finding pragmatic ways to address these issues to improve public health across the country.

"I commend our Ranking Member Grijalva for organizing today’s roundtable to include critical input from the Hispanic community on the many issues this Committee considers, as well as his efforts to organize future meetings with other constituency groups. We all have a critical stake in protecting our environment for future generations, and today’s discussion was an important opportunity to engage, listen and learn how we can best work together to advance the issues we all care about,” said Congresswoman Debbie Dingell.

“We are thrilled to join these Latino organizations in this critical dialogue today and partnering to educate our growing community on key environmental issues, especially water. Protecting our environment is the responsibility of all Americans, as nature knows no race or creed. Thank you to Ranking Member Grijalva for his leadership on our Committee and for ensuring Latino populations are equally represented in these conversations,” said Congresswoman Grace Napolitano.

“Whether it’s protecting our public parks and natural treasures, ensuring access to clean, safe drinking water, or mitigating the disproportionate impact of environmental contamination on our community, Latinos have a tremendous stake in preserving our natural resources. As a newly appointed Member of the Natural Resources Committee, l look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and the Latino leaders here today in developing innovative strategies to engage the Latino community and make sure their voices and interests are represented in the national debate on environmental issues,” said Congresswoman Norma Torres.

“The Latino community is a force for change in American politics. It holds enormous potential for progress on our environmental policies. We need more roundtable discussions like this to continue engaging Latinos to secure policies that protect our environment,” said Congressman Don Beyer.

“This is the first meeting in what will be a strong working relationship with Latino environmental groups. We need to take into account diverse communities and stakeholders when making environmental decisions that affect us all,” said Congressman Ruben Gallego. He added, “I look forward to working with these leaders and their organization on conservation, environmental and climate issues so we can leave a better and cleaner world for our children and the generations to come.”

“We are delighted that Congressman Grijalva has asked us to partner with members of Congress to bring new voices to the discussion of environmental issues that impact the lives of all Americans. We look forward to sharing the Latino community’s unique perspective on environmental issues including environmental justice, climate change, diversity in environmental jobs, clean water, equal treatment for the island of Puerto Rico and preserving important sites related to Latino history in the US,” said Brent Wilkes, Executive Director of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

“Clean air and water, preserving public lands, climate change and promoting a clean energy economy are all matters of great concern for the Latino community,” said José Davila, Vice President for Policy and Government Relations for the Hispanic Federation. “I am pleased to join this roundtable discussion by the Natural Resources Committee Democrats to discuss ways in which we can safeguard our Nation’s bedrock conservation laws – including the Antiquities Act and the National Environmental Protection Act – increase inclusion and diversity in our national parks and monuments, and develop the next generation of Latino conservation leaders.”

"GreenLatinos, and our national network of Latino environmental and conservation leaders, is proud to participate in this important roundtable discussion on conservation and environmental justice issues. Congressman Raul Grijalva has always been a champion for our issues, and will play an even greater role from his seat as Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources. In poll after poll, Latinos consistently express the importance they place on clean air and water, the value of stewardship and access to pristine lands and waterways for current and future generations. We are eager to work with Ranking Member Grijalva and the rest of the members on the House Natural Resources Committee on these issues during this Congress and beyond,” said Mark Magana, President of GreenLatinos.

“Latinos hold a deep passion for the outdoors and are a significant, growing force calling for greater environmental protections of our public lands. As the nation’s largest minority group and one of the fastest growing population segments, the Latino community’s engagement in conservation is critical and could have a far-reaching impact. By bringing together these Latino groups, Rep. Raul Grijalva and the House Natural Resources Committee are demonstrating their commitment to engaging Latinos on the important issues,” said Maite Arce, President and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation.

“The protection of and access to public lands is essential for the well-being of Latino communities and for the continuity of our cultural traditions. This roundtable is an important step forward for Latinos to be heard on issues related to conservation and the environment that directly affect us,” said Rod Torrez, of HECHO

"Protecting natural resources is a way of life for Latinos. Opportunities like this forum provide our communities an important platform to work with leaders in Congress to protect the land and waters where we live, work and play,” said Marcela Gutiérrez, Director of Azul / La Madre Tierra.