The Western United States Petroleum Association (WSPA), a powerful lobby group in California, launched a messaging campaign called Raise Your Voice, which aims to capitalize on Latino economic concerns to slow the transition to zero-emission vehicles. As part of this campaign, WSPA spent nearly $1 million on Spanish-language television and radio ads featuring people engaged in various activities. The ads warn that new laws in California require the use of electric vehicles and engines, saying that living in the state will become more expensive without gasoline options.
This manipulation of California’s largest ethnic group is particularly ironic, as it targets a community that is disproportionately affected by fossil fuel pollution and would benefit most from policies aimed at reducing emissions. The oil industry’s attempt to mobilize Latinos against the state’s transition to renewable energy and electric vehicles has backfired and seeks to prolong the use of polluting and harmful products.
WSPA’s argument that Latinos are primarily focused on daily survival rather than air quality and the future impact of climate change is an overgeneralization. Several public opinion polls show that Latinos, like other Californians, are very concerned about air pollution and climate change. In addition, they widely support policies and spending to combat these problems.
It is true that Latinos face challenges in the transition to electric vehicles, as more affluent Californians adopt these vehicles to a greater extent. This limits low-income families’ access to these vehicles. However, instead of proposing solutions, the oil industry is spreading doubts and promoting delays because electrification is not in its interest. The industry has benefited from the delay in climate action and has spent millions of dollars lobbying against measures that would protect public health, reduce pollution and curb rising prices.
The oil industry’s attempt to exploit Latino communities for its own benefit is shameful. The future of the industry is uncertain due to policies that aim to reduce California’s oil consumption by more than 90% over the next two decades. We must not be fooled by their tactics. They have a history of hiding the truth about the dangers of fossil fuel consumption and opposing the protection of the environment and public health. We should not believe their claims that they are now putting the interests of the public, especially Latinos, first.
– Western United States Petroleum Association (WSPA)