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Jared Kushner is finally granted his security clearance. Also on our nationwide rundown: A new lawsuit seeks the release of a gay man from ICE detention in Pennsylvania; and protecting an Arizona water source for millions near Phoenix.

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Group Launches Ballot Initiative to Require 50% Renewable Energy by 2030

Arizona has one of the sunniest climates, but also one of the lowest renewable energy standards in the West. (CleanHealthyAZ)
Arizona has one of the sunniest climates, but also one of the lowest renewable energy standards in the West. (CleanHealthyAZ)
February 22, 2018

PHOENIX — A coalition of community groups and health organizations is throwing its support behind a ballot initiative, filed on Tuesday, that would force investor-owned utilities such as Arizona Public Service, Tucson Electric Power and electric cooperatives to get 50 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2030.

Right now, the Arizona Corporation Commission only requires a standard of 15 percent by 2025. Pita Juarez with the Clean Energy for Healthy Arizona ballot initiative said the move is necessary to clear the air in Arizona's biggest cities.

"We're trying to protect air, water and the land, but we've also seen the asthma, cardiovascular and pulmonary disease,” Juarez said. “Phoenix has the fifth highest ozone levels of any area in the country."

Arizona utility commissioner Andy Tobin has asked for a cost-benefit analysis. Opponents claim the mandate would result in more expensive, less reliable electricity. Surrounding states already have increased their renewable energy standards.

Juarez said the Legislature has shown no interest in raising the standards, so it is time to let the voters weigh in.

"I think that this has been long overdue. I don't think that there has been any representation for the voters who have been wanting this,” she said. “So we're excited to see that in November we'll put it on the ballot and we'll leave it to the voters."

The campaign will now set out to collect 226,000 signatures by July 5. Supporters include the Asthma Coalition, the Arizona Public Health Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Mi Familia Vota, Chispa Arizona, and the Energy Future Project.

The ballot initiative can be read in full at CleanHealthyAZ.com.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ