News from the Environmental Front

Christa Sadler, 2nd vice chair of the ADP Environmental Caucus

This week the last week to hear bills in committee in the house of origin, is referred to as “hell week,” due to the super long agendas with long lists of bills and strike-everything amendments and the meetings that drag into the night.

Arizona’s state legislature once again proved that it is far behind the times, and one of the leaders in poor environmental legislation. Although there was time to hear a plethora of bad water bills in the Natural Resources, Energy, and Water Committee, there was no time to even consider protecting “ecological” water for the needs of the state’s ecosystems. Many really good bills went in the dustbin this week—ecological water, voters’ bill of rights, Equal Rights Amendment (really, Arizona?), reversing the ban on bans of plastic bags, banning fracking, climate resolutions, and more. While these important bills are dead in their current form, we are not giving up and will continue to look for ways to amend them on to other bills and have our voices heard. Meanwhile, we will also focus on a few of the good ones that got through the first part of the process and on stopping the ones that roll back protections, suppress votes, and make it more difficult to qualify a citizen initiative.

Please send a message to your representatives asking them to oppose HB2111 (S/E water supply; adequacy; exemption [Griffin]). This bill allows counties such as Cochise and Yuma that have adopted water adequacy provisions for subdivisions to rescind them unanimously. If they rescind them, they cannot readopt them for five years. This is likely to result in ever more harm to the San Pedro River due to excessive groundwater pumping, and will weaken the limited protections for consumers. We need to be rewarding counties that limit water use, not increase it.

Please also file a Request to Speak about the following bills! This is really important, and we need as many voices as possible supporting the few remaining decent bills out there (as well as opposing the many awful ones).  While I know that we all have our battles that we feel the need to fight, please take the few minutes it will require to fill out your comments online. Our environment is too precious to ignore, and Arizona’s legislature already apparently believes it can operate with impunity in this regard. It is more than time to elect more environmentally minded legislatures in this state!

HB2590 appropriation; water districts; infrastructure; Drought Contingency Plan (Cook, Blackman, Campbell, et al.). This bill appropriates $20 million for Pinal County agricultural and development interests to pay for infrastructure to pump more groundwater. OPPOSE. This is the absolute height of insanity and short-sightedness, to pump already fragile and reduced groundwater supplies for more development and for agriculture.

HB2591 WQ ARF; appropriation (Gabaldon). This bill appropriates $20 million for the Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund to assess and clean up contaminated sites. SUPPORT. Although it would be wonderful if we could compel the companies who actually contaminated these sites to pay for clean up, this is at least an important step to take.

HB2701 state parks; lottery; heritage fund (Osborne: Cano, Cobb, et al.) This bill establishes the state parks lottery fund for trails, historic preservation, local parks, etc. and appropriates $10 million from the Arizona Lottery. SUPPORT. Arizona has been starving its state parks and preservation efforts of money for many years. This will provide a dedicated source of income to these important aspects of our state.

ALSO…  February 26, 2019 is the 100th anniversary of Grand Canyon National Park. In honor of this event, and because it simply needs to be done, Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources Raul Grijalva (doesn’t that have a nice ring to it?) will be introducing the Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act. This bill (which does not yet have a number) would permanently remove more than 1 million acres of land around the Grand Canyon from mining, and from development under the antiquated and destructive 1872 Mining Law. Grijalva made the announcement of the bill in a ceremony at the South Rim on Saturday the 23rd. He was accompanied by members of the Havasupai, Hualapai, Hopi, and Navajo nations, representatives from the Coconino County Board of Supervisors and the City of Flagstaff, Trout Unlimited, Grand Canyon Trust, Haul No and other conservation organizations, the Wyss Foundation, and Congressman Tom O’Halleran, one of the bill’s co-sponsers. We will keep you posted on the bill’s progress. It will undoubtedly pass the House, but will face stiff opposition in the Senate, and stiffer opposition from the White House should it pass the Senate. Mining interests are already lining up against this one, as it goes hand in hand with an attempt to overhaul the antiquated 1872 Mining Law. Keep your eyes and ears open and get ready to contact our senators! For more information, please contact the Grand Canyon Trust at www.grandcanyontrust.org.

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