Imagine that you receive this month’s energy bill in the mail. You open it, see the amount due, and realize you face a dilemma: Pay this bill, or put food on your family’s table.
No family should have to choose between energy and other basic necessities. But that is the choice too many Hispanics in Colorado face, and it is a choice that a proposed law in Washington—H.R. 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act—would help prevent.
This winter, energy bills in Colorado spiked, with some families paying triple what they had been paying the previous year. This increase was due in part to high natural gas prices—prices that peaked in August but are projected to rise over the course of this year. Gasoline prices also spiked last summer and are likewise expected to rise this summer, too.
These price increases bite all Coloradans, but they disproportionately impact Hispanics. Hispanics have a 20% higher energy burden, meaning not only that energy costs—electricity to cool the house, natural gas for cooking, filling up the car to get to work—take up more of their budget, but wild price fluctuations create more financial instability for them as well.
The House of Representatives in Washington recently passed H.R. 1, which would address many of these issues by helping to stabilize and lower energy prices and by supporting well-paying jobs. At a time when bipartisanship is a rare commodity in Washington, HR 1 garnered bipartisan support. This bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.
Unfortunately, U.S. Representative Yadira Caraveo of Colorado’s 8th congressional district voted against H.R. 1
Failing to support H.R 1 was a missed opportunity to work across party lines and support energy production in Colorado by reducing bureaucratic red tape and ensuring access to resources. It would restrict the ability of the president to play politics with federal land by preventing energy development on it. This provision is particularly important for Colorado, as the federal government manages well over a third of the state’s land.
The result of this bill would be more energy production in Colorado and across the United States. More energy production means lower prices on your bills and at the pump. It also means more predictable prices—and fewer spikes like what we saw this past winter.
For the millions of Hispanics living paycheck to paycheck or starting a new business, lower and predictable prices mean they can plan for the future and invest in opportunities instead of always having to be afraid of the next price increase.
H.R. 1 won’t just help lower costs, though. It will increase the number of good-paying jobs in Colorado, strengthening both Hispanic families and the state’s economy.
Oil and gas support nearly 1 in 8 jobs in Colorado, either directly or indirectly, according to one study. And these aren’t menial, low-paying jobs, either: Energy workers make over a third more per hour than the average worker in the country.
This is why my group, The LIBRE Initiative, is planning on running digital ads this summer informing Colorado’s Latino community about Rep. Caraveo’s refusal to vote for HR 1 and the missed opportunity to lower energy costs.
Hispanics in Colorado need relief from high energy bills. H.R. 1 would help our energy economy thrive for years to come, and the result would be lower bills, more jobs, and stronger families and communities.
Our elected officials need to understand that they are sent to Washington not to vote in lockstep with party bosses, but to fight for our local community’s needs like lowering energy costs.