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Two-Thirds of AZ Lawmakers Get "F’s" on Environment

May 4, 2011

PHOENIX - Two-thirds of Arizona state lawmakers get failing grades on this year's Sierra Club Environmental Report Card.

The legislators - 60 out of 90 - were downgraded to "Fs" for voting to ignore federal protections for water, air and endangered species, and to weaken land use regulations. Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club's Grand Canyon Chapter, calls the current Legislature "aggressively hostile" to environmental protection.

"We're talking about the air that we breathe, clean water, public lands and wildlife that are important to all of us - and the parks that are part of our heritage, where school kids go to learn about history and culture."

The report card is also critical of legislative leaders for limiting media and public access during the recently ended regular session, including the late-night passage of the state budget with little or no opportunity for public input.

Lawmakers are endangering the ability of state parks to remain open, Bahr says, by again taking money collected from entrance fees to help balance the budget.

"For years, the Legislature said, 'Parks, you figure out a way to fund yourself.' So they did, using a variety of special funds and raising the fees we pay at the parks. So, they do that - and then the Legislature takes them."

She says legislators also voted to allow mining activity on state trust lands slated to be added to Petrified Forest National Park.

The report card does contain some good news, Bahr says; some of what she calls "the most outlandish" bills coming out of the Senate were killed in the Arizona House. The House defeated bills to hinder native fish recovery and to remove public input on power-line routes, Bahr says, adding that it never considered one bill, which would have called for a state takeover of regulations of greenhouse gases and particle pollution from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

"I think people in the House understood that there were some constitutional problems with that, but also that it would harm our efforts to improve air quality, relative to particulates."

Arizona currently fails to meet federal air quality standards and faces possible sanctions.

The Sierra Club report card is online at

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ