[COMMENTARY] Arizona needs to clean up its air – and its politics

 
Arizona’s Dirty Secret – Its Air

(Editor’s note: Opinion pieces are published for discussions purposes only.)

By Laura Dent | Arizona Mirror

Arizona has some of the dirtiest air in the nation. Our politics can be even dirtier.

Late last month Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest private monopoly utility, finally acknowledged spending more than $10 million dollars to influence the election of its own regulators to the Arizona Corporation Commission in 2014. The admission comes after years of evasion and obfuscation regarding the spending on behalf of the utility company.

APS’s most recent disclosure of political spending was not voluntary. The long-overdue acknowledgement came after threat of subpoena, generated by a shift of power on the ACC. This push for truth in utility political spending was championed by newly elected Commissioner Sandra Kennedy, who joined long-time transparency advocate Commissioner Bob Burns on the ACC this year.

Why do we care? Air pollution and rising utility bills hurt all Arizonans, and disproportionately impact lower-income families, Latinos, and communities of color, through higher rates of respiratory illness and higher energy bills. Just this week the American Lung Association ranked Phoenix as the 7th most ozone-polluted city in the nation, and Arizona was recently found to be the third fastest warming state in the nation. Our rising temperatures exacerbate air pollution, putting Arizona cities and residents at risk.

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