APS quits anti-clean-air lobbying group under scrutiny by House Democrats

By Elizabeth Whitman | Phoenix New Times

Arizona Public Service has quietly exited an industry group that lobbies heavily against federal air-quality regulations and is now central in an ethics investigation by U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee members into top officials at the Environmental Protection Agency.

At least seven other utilities across the country have also cut ties with the Utility Air Regulatory Group in recent days, around roughly the same time that Democrats on the committee began sending out letters requesting documents, communications, and other records from the 

Salt River Project and Tucson Electric Power, the other two Arizona utilities listed as members of UARG (pronounced “YOU-argh”), say they remain committed members of the group. But APS, under intensifying scrutiny from Arizona Corporation Commissioners for its political activities, has quit.

EPA air quality boss Bill Wehrum (gesturing) has extremely close ties with an industry group that lobbies to roll back air-quality regulations. U.S. Department of Agriculture

“As APS continues implementing an even cleaner generation mix, we have made the decision to end our membership with Utility Air Regulatory Group,” Suzanne Trevino, a spokesperson for APS, told Phoenix New Times. “We began evaluating our membership a couple of months ago and recently made the decision.”

APS, a state-regulated utility, was not on the published list of eight utilities that recently received probing letters from House Democrats as part of their inquiry. Salt River Project and Tucson Electric were not either.

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