2° Out West Podcast

Cultivating Environmental Justice with Juan Roberto Madrid

Air pollution disproportionately impacts people of color in numerous ways. Green Latinos is spearheading on the ground solutions to pollution to foster a better quality of life for Black, Brown and Indigenous people in the USA.

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Green Latinos community outreach about ACT at a local church.

We’re excited to bring you a crucial conversation with Juan Roberto Madrid from GreenLatinos that uncovers the often-overlooked environmental challenges faced by Latino communities. This compelling episode invites you to join us on Juan Roberto’s extraordinary journey from his 33-year healthcare career aiding minority communities to his pursuit of a master’s in public health and eventually embracing the realm of policy and climate justice.

We’ll take a deep dive into the heart of GreenLatinos’ operations, shedding light on their mission to support initiatives like transportation electrification and addressing the disproportionate impact of climate change on Latino communities. The conversation switches gears to spotlight their nationwide advocacy for Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities, who bear the brunt of environmental issues like ozone pollution. Hear about the transformative work they’re doing to make public lands more accessible and how they’re adapting their successful Colorado model for other states.

Environmental Justice Coalition partners after testimony at AQCC ACT Rulemaking hearing.
Climate change is affecting us all. It's affecting our communities more, because we're the frontline workers; we're the grocery store worker; we're the construction worker; we're the ag worker; we're the worker that's picking vegetables and fruits. That's the workforce; that's our community.
Juan Roberto Madrid, Colorado Clean Transportation & Energy Policy Advocate for Green Latinos
Juan at the Grene Latinos table at an ACT outreach event.

GreenLatinos facilitated a year-long outreach campaign to engage Spanish speakers in Colorado to educate and empower around the Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) rule which will require manufacturers of medium and heavy-duty vehicles to sell an increasing percentage of zero-emission vehicles of their annual sales from model year 2027 and beyond. This new rule will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants which disproportionately affect Black, Brown and Indigenous people. GreenLatinos collected testimony that was used in the proceedings for the ACT ruling that ultimately led to the adoption of ACT in Colorado.

Listen to our newest episode to learn about the work GreenLatinos is doing to fight environmental injustice. Please consider leaving a review after listening so more folks can find our podcast. Also, please check out the further reading list below to check out all of the articles, books, maps and more that we mentioned throughout the episode.

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what i like about the west

We would love for you to contribute to the new “What I Like About the West” Segment. 

Create a 40-second voice memo telling us what you like about the West and email it to us at Jessi.Janusee@westernresources.org. We would love to feature you on our next podcast episode! Also, please take a minute to watch this 1950’s video of Tex Williams performing the song, “That’s What I Like About the West.” His song was the inspiration for this segment. 

That's What I Like About The West

Episode Guest: Juan Roberto Madrid is the Colorado Clean Transportation and Energy Policy Advocate at Green Latinos. He’s a public health professional with 33 years of healthcare experience in the emergency room, intensive care unit, critical care flights medevac, as well as remote austere environments. Juan Roberto has displayed a passion for rural health, health education and promotion, which lead him to complete his bachelor’s of science degree in health professions, focusing on health education and promotion.

Full Transcript


Jessi Janusee – Multimedia Storyteller: All across the West, people are living the climate crisis and being affected by extreme drought, wildfires, and air pollution. We need strong action to address the manifold impacts of climate change, and poll after poll shows that Westerners agree. While every person is impacted by climate change, Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other people of color bear a far higher burden because of exposure to toxic co-pollutants, environmental racism, exclusion from decisions and economic precarity that compromises resiliency.

[00:00:34] On today’s episode, we’ll be talking with Juan Roberto Madrid from Green Latinos about what that organization and Juan are doing, especially for those that live in more polluted areas and who live with the negative impacts of smog and air pollution on a daily basis. Climate change is affecting us all.

[00:00:55] Juan Roberto Madrid – Colorado Clean Transportation & Energy Policy Advocate: It’s affecting our communities more because we’re the frontline workers. We’re the grocery store worker. We’re the construction worker. We’re the ag worker. We’re the worker that’s picking vegetables and fruits. That’s the workforce. That’s our community.

[00:01:14] Jessi Janusee – Multimedia Storyteller: Welcome to Two Diggers at West, a podcast where we talk about the Western USA, and all the things we love about it.

[00:01:20] It’s a celebration of the West. We also talk about climate change and the actions different people are taking to mitigate climate change in the West. I’m your host, Jessie Chanisey, I’m a multimedia storyteller here at Western Resource Advocates. And let’s get started talking to Juan Roberto.

[00:01:44] Juan Roberto Madrid is the Colorado Clean Transportation and Energy Policy Advocate at Green Latinos. He’s a public health professional with 33 years of healthcare experience in the emergency room, intensive care unit, critical care flights medevac, as well as remote austere environments. Juan Roberto has displayed a passion for rural health, health education and promotion, which lead him to complete his bachelor’s of science degree in health professions, focusing on health education and promotion.

[00:02:15] Juan Roberto then went on to earn a master’s of public health degree from the George Washington University Milken Institute of Public Health, where his concentrations were in health communication and marketing, as well as environmental health science and policy. Combining his passion for the outdoors and health care experience.

[00:02:31] He has been involved in research on how climate change-driven drought in the Southwest has been impacting the physical and mental health of farmers and ranchers in the Colorado River Basin. Well, welcome to the podcast. Thanks so much. Yeah. Thank you for having me. So the first question, I just want to jump right into it is how did you decide to switch your life focus from healthcare to the environment and climate justice?

[00:02:55] Juan Roberto Madrid – Colorado Clean Transportation & Energy Policy Advocate: That was I want to say it was an easy switch, but after 33 years in health care working in emergency rooms in disproportionately impacted communities like Central Denver, Northwest Denver, I was seeing how black, brown, and indigenous communities were adversely impacted by climate and by air quality, by water quality and when I constantly, on our air quality alert days, like yesterday and today, it’s those communities that would come into the ER more often with asthma exacerbations or their diabetes or their high blood pressure or their kidney disease that would have spikes in reactions to the, for air quality. And often I saw the healthcare institutions not addressing the root cause.

[00:03:53] Of those exacerbations. So you have a baseline condition and your baseline condition is being impacted and affected by the environment and too often healthcare providers were chalking it up to cultural diet and lifestyle, not taking into account, Oh, you live a mile from a refinery. You live 500 ft from a major highway or freeway.

[00:04:20] And we know right, science and research shows that those have a big impact. And so at 33 years, I was increasingly getting frustrated with our health care system and seeing how those who need the care the most Weren’t getting the care that they needed, and there were so many barriers to access to care and adequate care.

[00:04:45] And so I knew I was helping people one on one in their emergency, but I wanted to do something bigger and to have a bigger impact to help people. And so I looked at the Masters of Public Health and I looked at the policy world because I mean, I remember an instructor and one of the physicians that I worked with.

[00:05:07] I considered maybe med school in my late thirties, early forties, and I had a mentor who said, Juan, you’d be great, but in a couple of years you’d be right here where you’re at today, frustrated with the system as, as we are. And he said, you could do policy, big P or little P, you know, big policy at the national level or little policy at the state, local, municipal level.

[00:05:34] And have a greater impact on people’s lives. And that resonated with me. I sat with that. And then I applied to the Masters of Public Health program and I got in. And I got in the year before the pandemic. And as I was studying and learning, we were watching the pandemic unfold. And health education and promotion is a big piece of what I’ve done for 33 years.

[00:05:58] And it’s important. And I’ve done that in foreign countries when I was in the military because it makes a difference. And so that prompted me to really, as I started to study environmental science and policy, looking at how climate change is impacting farmers or ranchers. In the Colorado River Basin, and thinking about our air quality issues here in the Denver metro area, I really thought policy was going to be the way to go.

[00:06:29] I worked for, when I graduated with my MPH, I worked for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for a year as a healthcare regulator. And that just didn’t set well with me because I didn’t feel like I was… community and helping people. I recognize that the state had a greater deference to industry and I was constantly told, how can we help you to bring your reports down to a certain level?

[00:06:59] And so when I experienced that, I was like, well, I can’t do this anymore. And an opportunity. I had been a member of Green Latinos since 2019, when I started my MPH, and Green Latinos being a national organization, nonprofit, environmental conservation organization, focused on environmental justice issues, and harnessing our collective power to change policy at the Federal, state, local, municipal level, there was an opportunity that opened up with the Colorado team to address clean transportation and clean energy policy.

[00:07:35] And so I was like, well, I’m, I don’t know anything about transportation or clean energy, but I do know how those two impact public health and impact the lives of minority communities. All communities, but especially Latino communities, so I took the job and that was really a little bit of a learning curve, but I’m bringing that public health lens to the work and highlighting, having seen direct, direct impacts, highlighting that overview to commissioners, to the Public Utilities Commission, to legislators, if we’re advocating for a bill during the legislative session, And I really try to bring it back to that.

[00:08:15] Using that public health background, many of our decision-makers think about cost. And they factor in the cost. What is it going to cost? Or, let’s take an example, for the advanced new cars rule. In the 2022 legislative session, they were looking to pass an air quality improvements bill. And they were talking about air quality, And I remember one of the legislators asking, well, what’s the cost of doing nothing?

[00:08:44] I was able to look at the cost in healthcare dollars. There are many organizations that do that, but we were able to show, for example, Adams County. Was going to spend over 1 million for air monitoring systems. They were spending 600, 000 for the system and then another 200, 000 for the maintenance upkeep and the technicians to operate that equipment.

[00:09:11] And it was over 14 million in healthcare-related costs, costs related to health disease and health burden, respiratory disease alone, and then further. Using that public health background, digging in further to identify the number of residents in the county that were Medicare or Medicaid, so federal and state programs.

[00:09:34] So that’s federal and state dollars that the state is using to pay for people’s health care related to air quality and respiratory disease. From the outline impacts of air pollution, diesel emissions, PM 2. 5, and so I think often they don’t think in that way, and I think some of the advocates I’m working with don’t have that experience that I had, and so weren’t really, they talk about the studies that show disproportionately impacted communities, Black, Brown, and Indigenous folks are impacted at a greater rate, but then being able to bring that personal experience And, and identify that and knowing how to put a spin on it for, for numbers is, I guess that’s where my focus lies and how I try to make that connection.

[00:10:26] Jessi Janusee – Multimedia Storyteller: Yeah, that’s powerful that you have the personal stories, you have the anecdotes from the people you’ve worked with. You have the knowledge with your health backgrounds, you know, of like how deeply this is really impacting people. And then the fact that you’re also able to come at it from a money standpoint, you know, and show them like, it’s not cheaper to do nothing.

[00:10:46] Like it’s not cheaper to go this route and just let people be sick. Yeah, that’s, that’s good stuff. I mean, it’s not good stuff, but it’s great that you can explain it to people in a way that really shows them what needs to happen.

[00:11:00] Juan Roberto Madrid – Colorado Clean Transportation & Energy Policy Advocate: Right. And just showing how much the state is already paying for those healthcare dollars.

[00:11:06] And that’s the healthcare dollars that we could save to put towards other programs, early childhood education, or fixing our roads, or some of these other important priorities, instead of spending that on healthcare dollars related to air pollution.

[00:11:20] Jessi Janusee – Multimedia Storyteller: And everyone benefits, the air is cleaner. Everyone benefits.

[00:11:24] Everything is better. Yeah. Well, you already gave us a little bit of an overview of green Latinos, but if you wanted to go in more depth at all, I also was wondering how many members there are throughout the nation.

[00:11:36] Juan Roberto Madrid – Colorado Clean Transportation & Energy Policy Advocate: As a nationwide organization, we have, I want to say it’s right around 2 to 3000 for 2023, our big push of emphasis.

[00:11:45] has been a greater emphasis on membership and to be more membership driven. When Green Latinos started, our founder and CEO, Mark Magana, had 20-plus years of working in DC. And so he worked to build a coalition of Latino leaders that were going to help influence and vote on the cap and trade bill that it didn’t pass, but they were advocating for years ago.

[00:12:11] And then out of that was born Green Latinos. And often, Green Latinos nationally would bring community members from across the country. To DC to testify to rally to provide public comment at hearings, and increasingly now the model has been to engage at the community level and so the Colorado program, which has been in existence for three years, it’s kind of a test bed for the state level advocacy.

[00:12:44] And so, at the state level. We mirror what we’re doing at the national level, except we’re engaging on statewide issues, Northwest Denver, Metro Denver, Greeley, Pueblo, San Luis Valley, Western Slope, Northwest, out east in Yuma, and trying to identify what are the priorities we will make the topic. And we want to serve the Latino, Afro-Latino, and Indigenous communities as our members.

[00:13:15] And we want to uplift their concerns, as well as get engaged in issues at the state level that are going to impact the health and lives of Latinos. And so, an example of that would be advancing trucks. We know that the Denver Front Range is ozone nonattainment status by the EPA. And they have recently…

[00:13:37] Last year, Denver was downgraded from serious violator to severe violator, and that comes with some consequences for the state and some actions the state has to do to comply with EPA guidelines. To try to get that ozone to that EPA federal level. Right. And so that’s going to help improve the lives of everybody.

[00:14:01] We know that ozone impacts are greater for Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities in disproportionately impacted communities like Commerce City, Northwest Denver, East Pueblo, around the Everast plant, the smelting plant down there, the coal plants. So because we know those communities are impacted the most.

[00:14:24] We then engage with stakeholders and decision-makers that are gonna may have rulemakings or hearings or legislation may improve air quality and thus improve the lives of the community. And then at the state level, I do clean transportation and clean energy, and I have a counterpart at the national level who works on sustainable cities.

[00:14:52] And within the Sustainable Cities Program, they’re also focusing on clean air, clean transportation, clean energy, building organization, those things. At the national level, we’re engaged with water equity and oceans. That’s one of the programs we have. And so water affordability, water equity, care for the ocean, advocating for less plastics, advocating for reductions that address sea level rise. Sea temperature rises. We have a climate and air program nationally, and so my programs interface with some of the work they’re doing at the national level for federal bills. And then we have the Sustainable Cities Program. We also have a Public Lands Access Program, where we’re looking to make public lands more accessible to Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities living in metro areas where often there are barriers for them to be able to enjoy the outdoors and those public lands equitably.

[00:16:01] So at the national level, those are some of the programs that they’re working on.

[00:16:05] Jessi Janusee – Multimedia Storyteller: So many good programs. That’s awesome. I love that. There are a lot of parts to this, right? There are a lot of parts to outdoor equity and, yeah, environmental inequalities and caring for the planet and climate solutions. Like, yeah, so much.

[00:16:22] Juan Roberto Madrid – Colorado Clean Transportation & Energy Policy Advocate: Yeah. And the intersectionality between all of the programs. And that was one thing that really excited me about coming to work for Green Latinos is knowing that they have these national and federal initiatives and programs. And really, those are working well, and Colorado has been a great example of a state program.

[00:16:46] What we do at the, both national level and at the state level, is we try to be a convener in these spaces. And so we work with our counterparts at WRA, we work with counterparts at NRDC, National Social Defense Council, we work with partners at Conservation Colorado. And then at the grassroots level, we’re working with the community, Commerce City.

[00:17:12] And Commerce City had a small nonprofit called Pibango, which was born out of the community using a promotora health model. So kind of that health promotora model that was going to go out and educate community about the health effects of air pollution and air quality. And so we try to work with groups like that to uplift their issues and concerns.

[00:17:41] And then to help, because they’re much smaller nonprofit than we are, to help them gain access to the resources. that will allow them to be successful. So we will do that with other groups in Colorado. So kind of that convener helping to bring people to the table.

[00:18:01] Jessi Janusee – Multimedia Storyteller: When you work with other organizations, you have this mutual aid vibe where everyone’s coming together, you know, Putting their ideas and their resources together, it just becomes like incredibly more powerful, and you can get so much more done.

[00:18:13] So I love that. With your health background and now working with green Latinos, you’ve been spearheading these campaigns and rule-makings around air quality, as you mentioned before. So I just want to talk a little bit because ACT, Advanced Clean Trucks, was just adopted by the state of Colorado and Green Latinos, and you have been working on those efforts.

[00:18:36] And now you’re also working on a CC2 to get that rule ready for its next parts to be considered by the Air Quality Control Commission, right? Correct. So just tell us a little bit about it. It’s so hard with all these little acronyms and like things are a rule and what does that mean and different boards and different, yeah, commissions, anything you can enlighten us on.

[00:18:59] I think it’s greatly appreciated.

[00:19:01] Juan Roberto Madrid – Colorado Clean Transportation & Energy Policy Advocate: Yeah, you are correct. The Advanced Clean Trucks rule, and I guess the full title is the Advanced Clean Trucks Low Knocks Heavy Duty Omnibus rule, and that’s the full California rule. That was passed in April of this year. By the Air Quality Control Commission, which falls under the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

[00:19:26] And so that was a process because originally the Advanced Clean Trucks Rule, I believe this took 15 months to get this rulemaking passed. And there was a lot that got packed into that. When the Air Pollution Control Division, APCD, announced that they were going to have an advanced clean trucks rulemaking.

[00:19:50] They started with Stakeholder outreach and engagement in November, December of 2021. I wasn’t working with Green Latinos yet. And so I had been following some of that stakeholder outreach because the Colorado Department of Transportation puts a lot of their hearings. And a lot of these outreach sessions are done over Zoom and they record them and they put them on a YouTube channel.

[00:20:18] And so I started with Green Latinos in January of 2022 and quickly got involved with the Advanced Clean Trucks. And so in January and February, they were working on stakeholder outreach and there were environmental organizations, there were industry organizations that were involved in trying to crack the rule.

[00:20:40] And then it was also a political year nationally. We were dealing with fallout from the pandemic supply chain issues that were affecting everything from auto industry to chip manufacturers and up and down the line. And so this rulemaking happened in April of 2023, and it should have happened in April of 2022.

[00:21:05] But in February, the Air Pollution Control Division had announced that they were postponing the hearing until October ish timeframe of 2022. Many of the stakeholders were upset about that process because in all that stakeholder outreach leading up to that point, the indications were that they were going to have the rulemaking.

[00:21:33] In April of 2022. And to that degree, when they announced that they were not going to have that rulemaking hearing, Green Latinos spearheaded with Our Environmental Justice Coalition, which is made up of NAACP Denver, NAACP Rocky Mountain region, Mi Familia Bota, Women from the Mountain, and there were a couple of other organizations that were part of our Environmental Justice Coalition, addressing environmental justice issues, related to air quality issues and how this could push infected communities are affected.

[00:22:10] And then there were also the traditional environmental advocates. Like Western resource advocates, like Natural Resource Defense, Sierra Club, Conservation Colorado, and many of the other municipal groups. And so Green Latinos took the lead with the Environmental Justice Coalition and we actually petitioned, which had not been done before.

[00:22:35] We petitioned the state, the AQ Z to have a hearing and our petition that we submitted through our attorneys at Earth Justice. We petitioned for the state to have a rule on whether or not we wanted them to speed up the timeline and provided what we thought was evidence why, and our petition was not granted, but it was heard.

[00:23:00] And in the end, there were not enough commissioners. We did have support of some commissioners, but with nine commissioners, you need at least five to rule in your favor. So ultimately, our petition was denied. And some of the reasons they used for denying the petition we took issue with, they also talked about greater outreach to disproportionately impacted communities and other communities.

[00:23:26] And in the lead up to March, when they decided to not vote in favor for our petition, we had already been doing outreach, we had been doing community webinars, in Spanish, we had been taking out Spanish radio ads, Spanish television ads, we were on social media. Social media sites, Facebook, where many of our Latino communities go to, we are doing stuff, Whatsapp.

[00:23:56] To educate them what the rule was, what the rule wasn’t, and how it was going to impact them and their health. And then also recognizing that it might impact some of the workforce, because many truck drivers are Latino, are Black, are Brown, are Indigenous. And so how do we address that? And a lot of what we were doing was also dispelling misinformation about what the rule was.

[00:24:24] There was this idea that it was going to ban all diesel trucks. And it does, in fact, not ban diesel semi trucks for other trucks. So it was dispelling that information for some of our community members that might have been independent truck drivers. And so in the end… The state also cited that they were building out these complimentary programs, and time to be allowed for those complimentary programs to get stood up, we continue to do our outreach, we recognize that the state was trying to do greater outreach, and often, as we were kind of edging out of that pandemic era and, and kind of moving away from zoom and moving towards more acceptance for greater in-person events, as the state was Posting these events, they noticed they weren’t getting as much outreach from those.

[00:25:19] Black, brown, and indigenous communities. And so we address language justice. We addressed, if you’re doing a zoom webinar, it’s one thing to have translation for the webinar, but if you didn’t think about putting all your slides in both English and Spanish, then Your translator might just be translating slides and not answering questions and, and so we made a lot of suggestions and the state took those suggestions and improved their outreach and education.

[00:25:51] We started to work with the state and helping them to increase their outreach. By the end of the year and into the first of this year, we were conducting community education and outreach. And then while we were also doing that. Taking that opportunity to get public comment and public feedback from our monolingual Spanish speakers, and we also work with some Vietnamese language monolingual speakers.

[00:26:17] And then we had two that weren’t in Somali, and so our last ones we had invited some of the state regulators from the Air Pollution Control Division to come out to some of our outreach events. At one, we had 101 attendees come to a converted church in northwest Denver. And of those hundred and one, I believe it was 91 of them were monolingual Spanish speakers.

[00:26:44] We had arranged for simultaneous translation. Ostensibly, we undercounted the number of folks we thought would get there, and so we ran out of some of the translation headsets. But that was right. That’s always a great, it’s not great to run out of a service, but it was great to know we were reaching the community and the community was interested.

[00:27:08] And involved and wanted to know more and then we did another one in Aurora where we had 71 folks come out and out of that we had 56 that were monolingual Spanish speakers. And so, that has really helped, and we’ve got a lot of voices and we captured public comment from community members because the commission is used to hearing from WRA, NRDC, Green Latinos.

[00:27:38] Thank you. But when they hear from Velma, or when they hear from a member named Leticia, who actually wanted to provide her public testimony in Spanish, a week before the actual hearing, they took all the testimony via Zoom, just to get those folks out to have a mother of three who took the time out. To be there on zoom to provide her comment and how air quality impacts her life and her children’s lives.

[00:28:11] I think that was powerful for the commissioners to hear. Instead of just hearing the nonprofit advocates that are always at these commission hearings. So, bringing that outreach and bringing those voices. We had 42 community members that submitted written public comment. And that, most of that written public comment was in Spanish.

[00:28:31] And so getting that over to the commission. And then the commission recognizing, okay, we’ve got to then figure out how we translate those. And I think that was powerful in showing the commissioners that this rulemaking is going to improve air quality for the state. It will help address our greenhouse gas goals.

[00:28:54] It will help address the state’s ozone nonattainment status with EPA. And then it showed the community members were engaged and involved and wanted to do more and wanted the state to do more. And so we were happy after that 15 ish months when we got adoption of the full rule. And it was a unanimous adoption.

[00:29:17] All nine commissioners. Adopted the full California Advanced Clean Trucks Low NOx Omnibus Rule. That was strong and powerful, both for all the organizations involved and for, I think, the community to see, okay, this is what you do. This is how my voice matters. Gearing up for the Advanced Clean Cars 2. And so we’re really using that same format that we use.

[00:29:43] for community outreach and education and reaching our black, brown and indigenous communities. Give them the information on how having the strongest clean cars rule will help improve our air quality and help improve the lives of all Coloradans, but especially those Coloradans living in disproportionately impacted communities.

[00:30:05] Jessi Janusee – Multimedia Storyteller: Well, it seems like it’s definitely gonna happen just based on your success with ACT. I feel like you guys are in a really good place to use the things you’ve learned through that and definitely get the strongest role possible for that. So I feel confident in you guys. I was wondering what was the community.

[00:30:24] Reaction. You talked about it briefly, but when finally, after all of that outreach work and all of the public comment and everything, did people really feel empowered to the outreach,

[00:30:34] Juan Roberto Madrid – Colorado Clean Transportation & Energy Policy Advocate: very positive reactions and knowing that their input at an outcome, we were there in person for that hearing. Cause we rulemaking.

[00:30:47] But they put the rulemaking hearings, which happened over two days, we provided testimony, other groups provided testimony in favor. And of course, there were organizations that were providing testimony in opposition. But then, as we use social media, email, and every action updates to our community members to let them know.

[00:31:12] How things were going, community was very excited and it was a way after the success, we saw all the newspaper articles coming out about how well that was done and reporters from the Colorado Sun, reporters from the Denver Post, reporters from the Bye. The Seminario, which is a bilingual English Spanish news outlet, we’re reporting on that.

[00:31:37] That really got the information out there and community was aware that their input really helped push this over the edge and it was a win. And that was exciting. We had one woman from Aurora who said, I didn’t think my voice mattered and she provided written public comment at one of our community outreach sessions.

[00:31:57] She was excited that the information, the public comment she provided helped get this rule over the finish line and help get a strong rule for Colorado. This is a woman who. Walks to work three miles every day because there’s issues with busing service where she works, which took her by major thoroughfare roads and roads that had a lot of heavy trucking traffic, and she didn’t make the correlation between her degrading health and the environmental conditions of walking along on a dirt path to and from work, right? So I thought my headaches were because of this. I thought, right, like my bloody noses were, I wasn’t sure why. But through the education pieces, it was recognizing that, yeah, you’re being exposed to higher concentrations and levels of decent emissions, PM2. 5, which cumulate and give you a cumulative impact.

[00:32:59] And that’s resulting in those headaches you’re getting and the shortness of breath they’re getting. And I think that was empowering for her as well because there were takeaways on what she could do to help her in her situation. And then knowing that it wasn’t doctors saying, Oh, it’s because you do this or it’s because you do that, right?

[00:33:19] It was knowing that it was the environmental conditions in which she lives. that were impacting her health and now providing public comment on a rule that’s going to help improve the air quality in those conditions was something that she was excited about, to hear and see that my voice made a difference.

[00:33:38] Jessi Janusee – Mutlimedia Storyteller: Yeah. That’s such a powerful story. Thanks for sharing her story. I feel like there’s a whole piece about inequity in the healthcare system. So many healthcare providers are so dismissive of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people, and the level of care is so much lower, like, ugh, yeah.

[00:33:55] Juan Roberto Madrid – Colorado Clean Transportation & Energy Policy Advocate: Yeah. Health equity and health access.

[00:33:57] That would definitely take up a whole podcast. Episode.

[00:34:01] Jessi Janusee – Mutlimedia Storyteller: Yeah. One day.

[00:34:03] Juan Roberto Madrid – Colorado Clean Transportation & Energy Policy Advocate: With my expertise, I try to bring that lens. To this work so that when we’re addressing clean cars to, or advanced clean trucks, we’re addressing it and shining a light on exactly how these communities are being impacted, how their health is being impacted, but through no fault of their own and through historic red line zoning practices, through systemic racism practices, Right.

[00:34:35] In Colorado, we now have an EnviroScreen tool that the Colorado Department of Public Health has developed. And your regulators, stakeholders, look at a measurement. You can plug in your address and maybe you live in Commerce City or in Northwest Denver. And then you’re in a disproportionately impacted community because you’re by a major freeway.

[00:35:02] Nearby heavy trucking industry. Warehouses. And then it gives a score to those areas. That score then, in theory, is supposed to help decision-makers decide whether a business gets a permit to continue allowing air pollution emissions to be put out, or whether rules on advancing trucks into the airways.

[00:35:35] Or other facilities have to take into account those cumulative impacts. So we also think that is one tool, if it’s used correctly, that will help communities to fight back against the next dirty business that wants to come in and open shop. And so that not only improves their health equity, that it can help improve their healthcare access.

[00:36:02] Help improve the air quality conditions around their home and thereby limit and address some of these disproportionate impacts or these cumulative impacts. So, we’re excited that that tool is there to help address some of these inequities on the general health center.

[00:36:22] Jessi Janusee – Multimedia Storyteller: Yeah, that’s good. I hope. It’s implemented and really listened to.

[00:36:28] Juan Roberto Madrid – Colorado Clean Transportation & Energy Policy Advocate: Yeah, a tool is only as good as those who use it, right? If you don’t use the tool correctly or adequately, then it’s a great tool in the shed. But, so we’re hopeful that that tool will be effective. If people want to get involved or support Green Latinos, how can they get connected? The best way to get connected is to go to our website.

[00:36:51] We’re really pushing membership. Often we’ll be asked, do I have to be Latino or Afro Latino or Indigenous to join Green Latinos? And you don’t. We have many ally organizations. We have many members of academia who have become members. Because they’re looking to support the initiatives and to support our environmental justice concerns and issues.

[00:37:19] And so by going to the website, you can click on sign up. There’s a donate link. There’s kind of a sliding scale for membership because we recognize there are some members who cannot afford 20 a month or 15 a month, but still their voices deserve and need to be heard so they can join and be a member.

[00:37:42] And by joining you get to be in a collective of network and be with our community, and receive our community newsletters. If you’re in Colorado, and now that we have a Texas office open, if you join as a member you can even identify yourself as from Colorado. And get all our newsletters and information and our, we used to do the online meetings, call them encuentros, which is a meeting, but in Spanish.

[00:38:12] And now we’re holding in-person encuentros where community members can come together and talk about the issues that are of biggest concern to them, so that we can help uplift those.

[00:38:24] Jessi Janusee – Mutlimedia Storyteller: Yeah. No, you guys are a really powerful organization, like not only the work you’re doing to get these different rules done and all of that, but also your community building seems really so powerful.

[00:38:38] Yeah. I’m really inspired by that. It’s not easy to get a whole bunch of people to show up in the same place in the same time and feel comfortable and like they can share, you know. Their issues and everything. So anytime I see an organization really doing that at a grassroots level, I’m always so, so happy.

[00:38:55] And it’s awesome. And for those of you listening, I will definitely put the link in the show notes. So all you have to do is scroll down and you can just click right there on that green Latinos link and become a member or donate or. Both, whatever you want to do. So definitely check it out. I wanted to also ask kind of like, as we’re wrapping this up, what do you feel is the biggest environmental challenges facing the Latino, Latina, Latinx communities in the West right now?

[00:39:21] Juan Roberto Madrid – Colorado Clean Transportation & Energy Policy Advocate: There’s one overarching climate change is affecting us all. It’s affecting our communities more because we’re the frontline workers. We’re the grocery store worker. We’re the construction worker. We’re the ag worker. We’re the worker that’s picking vegetables and fruits. That’s the workforce, that’s our community.

[00:39:42] Climate change overall is impacting our communities the most in the West right now. And then I’ll go down to the next two most important ones, which are drought and aridification in the West. Along the Colorado River Basin and air quality, and they’re interrelated. So, as we continue to warm, we’ve been the warmest we’ve been over the last 22 years along the Colorado River Basin, and that’s impacting hydrology.

[00:40:15] That hydrology is impacting the snow, how much snow falls, the weather events, so we’re getting hotter and drier. Now we’re having more dust. More wind that’s kicking up that dust and wind will go from Arizona and Utah to our mountains here in Colorado, and it’ll paint our snowpack kind of pink, give it that kind of big brown color.

[00:40:42] Which then causes our water to melt faster and so instead of absorbing into that dry ground, we’re getting earlier runoff into the dry ground and not making it to the river to go down to the communities, right? And then that impacts air quality. So, that drought, that aridification, we’re getting increasing dust storms.

[00:41:06] Those dust storms are worsening air quality. Increasingly hotter drier leading to more wildfires, more wildfires are leading to worsening air quality impacts, and then it’s circular. I believe they’re spurring each other on, so that gets to that air quality piece, but it also is impacting energy, right?

[00:41:28] So with reduced hydrology, Lake Powell is not able to generate as much hydroelectric power. So then we’re having to rely on more fossil fuel power, which then translates to worsening air quality impacts and higher rates for our community members. We saw that at the end of 2022, when Lake Powell hydro power generation was reduced because of the low water, it caused our communities in the western slope of Colorado, the western half of Colorado To have higher energy rates and then their energy then was not coming from clean energy was coming from, you know, fossil fuel burning energy, which then leads to those air quality impact.

[00:42:16] Jessi Janusee – Multimedia Storyteller: Yeah, that was a great, comprehensive look at the interconnectedness of all these systems, flash flooding too, right? And then that causes erosion. Like, yeah, it just, it’s all part of the same system that no longer really working very well due to human intervention. So, yeah. Yeah, yeah. All those areas that had the wildfires, right?

[00:42:37] Juan Roberto Madrid – Colorado Clean Transportation & Energy Policy Advocate: That soil is hydrophobic because it hasn’t regenerated, so it’s not absorbing. And then you’re getting that flash flood on top of the flood itself, you’re getting all the debris flow, which then contributes to water quality issues, a degradation for riparian habitat, and then just continues to reinforce that cycle.

[00:42:59] Jessi Janusee – Mutlimedia Storyteller: Yeah. So while I was driving from Nevada to Colorado, I noticed in Utah. It was so windy and dusty that I thought there was a wildfire visibility was so low that I was kind of shocked at just how much the dust gets kicked up there and it was through the rural farming community, and it seems really normal to them, you know, they’re just like, yep, this is how it is out here.

[00:43:23] So just thinking about the part you were talking about with the dust and then also I’m close to Lake Tahoe and I just saw a news article that was like, Oh, why is all the snow pink in Lake Tahoe? You just clued me into why the snow is pink. It’s like part of that dust from Utah, I guess. And from, from here in Nevada as well, we really got to be thinking about this as completely interconnected and all these parts, you know, one solution is never going to be enough.

[00:43:47] Juan Roberto Madrid – Colorado Clean Transportation & Energy Policy Advocate: Right. Yeah. Interestingly, NIDIS, National Information for Drought Systems, I follow them on Twitter, and some of these big dust events in Utah. In western Colorado in Arizona, they are so large from the U. S. Space Station up in space. There are satellite photos that show that dust cloud that they were able to capture and show that drifted over.

[00:44:17] And, and right, and so those, those farmers, hotter, drier, they’re having to reduce the amount of water they use. They’re having to follow fields. Because the hydrology is so low, hotter, and drier. And so now they’re not farming an area. And then, are they using a cover crop on that area? Are they doing regenerative ag on that area?

[00:44:42] Or are they leaving it barren? And if they’re leaving it barren, that’s just soil that’s going to go into the atmosphere on these dust, dust conditions. And then, right, your example of Lake Tahoe. I flew to… San Diego a couple of weeks ago, and as we were flying over the Rockies, I was taking pictures, and it was so distinctive how pink the snow was from those dust events.

[00:45:09] And so, yeah, one solution is not going to fix it, but I think addressing the root causes, which is fossil fuel burning, to address air pollution and that air edification, I think are key things that we can work on as Environmental organizations and advocates. Yeah, it’s funny, I feel like I’ve had a lot of episodes around hydrology and around air quality.

[00:45:35] But that’s, you know, that’s the basis of it, right? That’s like a huge, huge part of it. So it makes sense. If you were to imagine the ideal Western USA, what would it look like? The ideal Western USA would look like a USA that embraces the environmental conditions in their area. I grew up in El Paso, the desert southwest, I lived in Albuquerque.

[00:46:02] High Plains Desert, and I love the High Plains Desert. I think of Las Vegas because I have family relatives that are in Las Vegas. I think of my uncles that are farmers in Yuma, Arizona. And I would love to see a cleaner, safer, healthier, better air quality Western U. S. And we’re, we’re loving Madre Tierra.

[00:46:25] We’re loving our Mother Earth. We’re helping to build her back up so that our rivers run for recreational activities. So we have fish that are abundant. So we have air quality. I always have folks who say, Oh, I’m going to, I want to come to Colorado and hike. The skies are always so blue. And I’m like, that’s because you see the travel campaign.

[00:46:48] If you were actually to be here today, it’s a brown cloud, right? We’ve had the brown cloud since the 70s. I would love to see a Western Colorado where we’re not worried about wildfires, where we have clean energy, and we’re, we’re engaging in practices that help to nurture and regenerate Mother Earth, because she gives us so much in the form of Green spaces, blue spaces, and if we take care of her, she’ll take care of us.

[00:47:21] Jessi Janusee – Multimedia Storyteller: Thanks so much, Juan Roberto. That was so much great information about all the work that you’re doing for clean air and to reduce pollution and a great overview of green Latinos. Okay, before we go into my favorite segment, what I like about the West, first we’re going to do a sponsor shout-out. WRA’s Impact Sponsor, FirstBank, is the largest locally-owned banking organization in Colorado.

[00:47:46] Providing a full range of banking services, we are grateful for their commitment to banking for good. Doing what’s right for customers, communities, and employees. We’d like to take a minute to thank our stellar 2023 sponsors, including our premier sponsors, Solep and Vision Bridge Partners, our signature sponsors, Stanford Water, Kind Design, and TorchClean Energy.

[00:48:07] And our supporting sponsors, BSW Wealth Partners, the Green Bay Foundation, Javelina, and Utah Clean Energy. Thanks so much sponsors, we really appreciate you. Okay, it’s time for what I like about the West. This is our fun little section we do at the end of every episode where we ask you to send us a voice memo of what you like about the West.

[00:48:30] And you can just email it to me, send it to me on social media, however you like to send files, really. And we just ask that it’s… It’s 40 seconds to a minute long. We would love to share your voice and your thoughts about the West on our show. So please send your, your little soundbite our way. This week we have Marcello Granados, who I met at an outreach event a little while ago and he was such a great guy.

[00:48:57] So you know, maybe I’ll run into you one day with my little recorder when I’m out and about and I’ll just ask you what you like about the West. It might happen. All right, let’s listen to Marcelo.

Marcello Granados:

[00:49:10] Some things I love about the West Coast, one is how far things are apart. It makes you feel a lot smaller. I just love the kind of expansive different landscapes and how much land there is out here. And how many different landscapes there are, how much it can vary. I also appreciate, in general, I feel like people are really open out here.

[00:49:31] And although there’s like, lots of different types of people, I also find it easy to connect with a lot of different types of people.

Jessi Janusee – Multimedia Storyteller:

[00:49:41] Thanks so much, Marcelo. This is now becoming one of my favorite things. Walking around with my recorder asking people what they like about the West. It’s pretty fun. Alright everybody, that’s it for this episode. As always, thank you for being here, I appreciate you listening. I’m your host, Jessie Chanisey, and this is Two Degrees Out West, a production from Western Resource Advocates.

[00:50:02] If you don’t know about WRA, you should definitely check out our website. There’s a link in the show notes. But basically, we just do a bunch of advocacy stuff for the West. We’re at public utility commissions, we are in the state legislature. We are at the Air Quality Control Commission, things like that, advocating for clean technology and better practices, better land, water practices, and making big changes to ensure that the West can stay thriving.

[00:50:31] So check that out, and I will see you next time. I hope you got a beautiful solstice, and this summer is expansive, relaxing, and overall gorgeous. See ya!


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