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By Emily Delaney | Arizona Mirror
Arizona is in the midst of a megadrought and rising temperatures, but Republican lawmakers this year again chose to sideline proposals aimed at combating climate change.
While the state has yet to adopt a cohesive statewide action plan, cities throughout Arizona have taken individual measures to combat the state’s climate crisis, including Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix and Flagstaff. Numerous bills were introduced during this year’s session that targeted climate change and sustainability, but those proposals all died without being considered in both the state House of Representatives and Senate.
“There’s just not enough critical mass in the legislature, and certainly in the governor’s office, to make the transition to clean energy a priority,” said Will Humble, executive director for the Arizona Public Health Association.
The GOP controls the governor’s office and both legislative chambers in Arizona. Republicans have repeatedly deemed climate and sustainability issues as trivial, resulting in a lack of traction on bills that aim to help Arizona’s climate crisis, said Sandy Bahr, chapter director of the Sierra Club Arizona, a grassroots environmental organization.
“It’s really disturbing, because it’s so clear that this is an issue and most of the public is there. They’re way out of step with the people of Arizona on this,” Bahr said .
While political polarization plays a part in the lack of statewide climate action in Arizona, there also are laws that make combating climate change seem like an impossible task for advocates. For instance, one law passed in 2020 prohibits the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality from taking any measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions unless it has authorization from the legislature.
The Arizona Corporation Commission has constitutional authority to regulate utilities and create and enforce energy policies, but during last year’s legislative session, GOP lawmakers in both chambers sought to give the power to set energy policies to themselves . Both bills that targeted the Corporation Commission’s power ultimately failed.
“I want to see the Corporation Commission setting rates and the legislature setting energy policy,” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said to the Arizona Chamber of Commerce.