Private meetings spark concerns as Arizona considers rules for streams and wetlands

By Ian James | Arizona Republic Publish

An advisory group created by Arizona environmental regulators has been meeting on Zoom to discuss ideas for new state regulations to protect streams and wetlands.  

The group’s members, including representatives of cities, water suppliers, environmental nonprofits, the mining industry, developers and others, have held three online meetings so far. Copies of their agendas, presentations and meeting summaries are posted on a state website, but it’s not possible to listen in without an invitation. State officials are keeping the meetings private.

Environmentalists who weren’t invited to take part have denounced what they call a rigged process. They say industries and business interests are overrepresented and that the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality seems to be skewing the process in their favor. They argue the closed meetings are part of a troubling pattern in which ADEQ and other state agencies regularly convene groups of influential stakeholders in private to hash out public business.  

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