Do Hispanics Bear the Brunt of the Energy Crisis?

Colorado's Hispanic population is growing fast, which means politicians will need to start paying more attention to their needs and concerns — including the increasingly high cost of energy.
Family Time

A perfect storm is a weather disaster produced by a calamitous combination of unusual factors. While we hear the term often, it’s also an apropos allegory for describing current events which are combining to effectuate a potential shift in Colorado’s political and policy landscapes.

Like all Americans, Coloradans are suffocating under non-transitory inflation. And when it comes to energy, the issue is particularly acute and appears headed for a crisis.

READ — Clearing the Air on Colorado’s Emissions

High demand and limited supply are placing relentless upward pressure on prices. The supply/demand imbalance is exacerbated by well-meaning environmental policies forcing a transition to a renewable-energy sector not ready for prime time. Fracking once made natural gas abundant, but externalities associated with the extraction method caused the clean-burning fuel to fall out of favor with policymakers, and wind and solar energy have proven to be inadequate replacements.

No one is immune from the higher prices of goods and services, but the energy crisis is not an equal-opportunity punisher. Citing a study by the American Council for an Energy-Effi-cient Economy, the National Hispanic Energy Council reports that Hispanic families now spend a substantially larger portion of their household incomes on energy — a whopping 20% more.

Expensive energy is hurting most the people who can least afford it. Predominantly Hispanic communities are making more difficult choices than their affluent suburban counterparts when it comes to choosing between food, gas in the car, or heat in the home. More of their bills are going unpaid.

What’s worse is that environmental groups appear to be touting reduced energy consumption as evidence of successful green-policy implementation, when the reality is energy reduction is directly attributable to families not turning on their heat because they can’t afford it. Green-energy policies are causing an energy reduction, but only because of a correlating decline in quality of life, and not because of increased energy efficiency.

According to figures published by the U.S. Census Bureau, Colorado is growing more diverse, and Hispanics are the largest and fastest-growing minority group. Nearly 22% of Coloradans are Hispanic, a slight increase from 2010, while 65% of Coloradans are white, a substantial decrease from 70% in 2010.

Will the increasing Hispanic population, together with the energy crisis, play out as a policymaking perfect storm in Colorado? Signs point to yes.

According to Pew Research, 80% of Hispanic voters this year rate the economy as a very important issue, while 57% also rate energy policy as very important — both surpassing the numbers identifying immigration policy as a top priority.

Hispanics are an increasingly growing share of the state’s population here, and they shoulder a disproportionally large burden of economic hardships brought on by the energy crisis. It should surprise no one that quality of life and the ability to pay utility bills are top of mind for the voting bloc most directly impacted by failed economic and haphazardly implemented green energy policies.

The Hispanic community is suffering, but their political clout is growing. This volatile combination of circumstances means policymakers and elected officials who ignore the Hispanic community do so at their own peril.

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