Arizona lawmakers reluctant to act on climate change

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The GOP-led body has always favored a limited approach to environmental regulation.

ARIZONA, USA — It’s no surprise that climate legislation isn’t a priority in the Arizona State Legislature. The GOP-led body has always favored a limited approach to environmental regulations and even went out of its way in 2015 to pass legislation preventing cities from enacting their own plastic bag bans.

Out of 275 bills passed during this legislature, only one directly concerns climate policy.

RELATED: Climate change report ‘another wake-up call’ for Arizona, experts say

The bipartisan bill was signed into law by Governor Doug Ducey earlier this year and paves the way for new, more climate-friendly refrigerants. It was sponsored by Republican Senator Gray and has been endorsed by both environmental groups and the business community.

“Climate change legislation is simply not the priority”

“We’re in trouble,” said Democratic Senator Victoria Steele, who for several years tried unsuccessfully to pass bills related to electric vehicles, land preservation and aquifer restrictions. “Climate legislation is simply not the priority of the majority powers.”

The Republican Party controls both the State House and the Senate and generally pushes back against attempts by Democrats to pass climate legislation. Although Republican Governor Doug Ducey has made water conservation a key talking point in recent months, he has not proposed specific legislation to address climate change.

“The legislature’s priorities are all messed up,” said Sandy Bahr, Sierra Club Grand Canyon chapter director. “They keep talking about what we need to do on the water. They do nothing about climate change and, in fact, offer things to make it worse.

Two climate bills backed by environmental organizations that passed the Senate with bipartisan support died in the House.

A bill, sponsored by Sen. Steele, would have created a framework for how to spend $76 million in new federal infrastructure money earmarked for electric vehicle charging stations.

However, the House did not give the bill a committee hearing. The Arizona Department of Transportation is resume the project and hired AECOM consultants to help with the plan.

President Bowers and Rep. Griffin will not be giving interviews

Two key Republican leaders in the House declined to answer questions from 12 News about the lack of climate legislation and their views on the science of climate change in general. 12 News sent interview requests to House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Rep. Gail Griffin, chair of natural resources, energy and water.

Climate change continues to be one of the most contentious issues in American politics, despite overwhelming evidence from the scientific community concluding that human-caused climate change is warming the planet to unsustainable levels.

According Nasa, “97% or more of actively publishing climatologists agree that global warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. The effects of human-caused global warming are happening now… and will worsen in the decades to come.

“You have to listen to the other side”

Ironically, Senator Gray, who passed the refrigerant bill, openly opposes the science of climate change. Gray engaged in a back-and-forth discussion with Bahr during a March hearing held by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Energy and Water.

Bahr said Arizona’s drought, extreme heat and wildfires are linked to “the climate crisis.”

Gray responded by saying he supports the work of climate change skeptic Dr. Patrick Moore.

Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, quit the movement years ago and espouses a popular theory among many Republicans that the CO2 emissions currently pumped into the atmosphere won’t impact the climate until decades later. hundreds of years.

“You have to listen to the other side,” Gray said during the hearing. “When we try to say it’s all about climate change, really, that’s saying we have to manage our forests.”

“We’re looking at the preponderance of science and Dr. Moore is an outlier,” Bahr said. “The preponderance of science indicates that we have a changing climate, we are contributing to it and we must do something now so that we do not impose all the problems on our children and our grandchildren.”

Gray responded by saying there are other scientists who support Moore’s theories.

“(Moore) is not an outlier. He just happens to not be on the politically correct side,” Gray said.

According to NASA, researchers like Moore ignore the evidence.

“It is undeniable that human activities have warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land and that rapid and widespread changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred,” says Nasa.

“We need new legislators”

Bahr told 12 News that Senator Steele’s efforts to pass bipartisan climate legislation over the years is an example of the legislature’s reluctance to address climate change.

“Last year she had electric vehicle bills that were very similar and she got feedback from Republican senators and she worked with them on the bills. She made a compromise,” Bahr said. “Those three bills were introduced and hit a brick wall in the House.”

“I really think that ultimately the lesson, particularly on climate, but also on water and clean energy, is that we need different legislators. We need people who understand really that we have to do things differently, that the energy status quo just digs a deeper hole for us,” Bahr said.

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