Arizona Rep. Brenda Barton has recommended the repeal and replacement of the Environmental Protection Agency’s final proposed Clean Power Plan, suggesting that it could be problematic to the state.
Even after the Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electric utility generating units, was granted a stay by the U.S. Supreme Court, Rep. Barton proposed bill HCM2006. First read Feb. 8, it urged the EPA and the secretary of the department of energy to develop a strategy that interferes less with Arizona’s coal-fired electric generation industry. That new strategy, as suggested in HCM2006, is one that works to, “attain the best technology available for clean, economic and efficient coal-fired systems.”
The reason given in HCM2006 for wanting the repeal of the Clean Power Plan:
“Whereas, the people of Arizona rely on electricity generation to support its infrastructure and its mining and manufacturing industries, to benefit Arizona’s outdoor recreation, lifestyle and employment, and to fuel this state’s economy and tax base… ”
However, Mesa resident Anita Mahaffey disagrees that the electric generation industry provides benefits to Arizona’s outdoor recreation and lifestyle. In her opinion, there are not enough regulations controlling pollution to the environment. The consequence, she believes, is that it hurts both public recreation sites and public health.
“Well the fact of the matter is, everybody’s ignoring it from an environmental standpoint, to the determent of the public health and safety,” she said. “If they were required to follow regulations, it would create jobs. Because right now, currently, the regulations are so whack that the public health and safety is at risk. At all levels.”
Albert Brown, an environmental lecturer and the director of environmental research initiatives at Arizona State University, agrees.
“From all of the thousands of scientific studies that have been published, the consensus of the worlds’ climate scientists is that reducing greenhouse gases and finding alternative sources of energy that do not release greenhouse gases are of paramount importance,” he said.
Mr. Brown explained that carbon dioxide doesn’t present immediate threats to health on its own. But that when it’s produced in large amounts and mixed with other factors, it causes significant damage. He further added that as the carbon dioxide emissions accumulate in our atmosphere it causes the Earth to retain more heat, ultimately prompting intense weather like hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and droughts.
“We as a species can fix it. We’re intelligent, technologically capable animals and we can make the right decisions and reverse the problems that we’ve created,” he said.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has decided to, “slow, but not stop, work on the Clean Power Plan.” In continuing the reduction efforts of greenhouse gas reduction, the department hopes to ensure that, “Arizona is well positioned to produce a state plan and avoid the imposition of a federal plan.”
According to Air Quality Division Director Timothy Franquist, following the rate-based pathway found on the Clean Power Plan’s Arizona specific guidelines, Arizona is set to meet the 2030 greenhouse gas reduction goal without state or federal regulation.
Olivia Q Davila is a journalism student at the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and wrote the article as a class assignment.