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Arizona 'Environmental Report Card' Reflects Partisan Divide

The Sierra Club's 2020 Environmental Report Card evaluates how Arizona lawmakers voted on conservation and environmental issues in this year's legislative session. (paul/Adobe Stock)
The Sierra Club's 2020 Environmental Report Card evaluates how Arizona lawmakers voted on conservation and environmental issues in this year's legislative session. (paul/Adobe Stock)
July 20, 2020

PEORIA, Ariz. -- It's no secret that the Arizona Legislature is divided firmly along partisan lines, but the contrast may be most evident in how lawmakers vote on environmental issues.

The Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club has issued its annual Environmental Report Card, grading how state officials have acted on recent issues of conservation, climate change and the environment. Sierra Club State Director Sandy Bahr said they gave each member of the Republican majority, including Gov. Doug Ducey, their lowest grade of "F," while Democrats received mostly "A's" and "B's."

"Last year, we saw a few Republicans do a little bit better on the Report Card. But this year, the votes were very partisan,"Bahr said. "Most of the votes were on bills that we opposed; some of those votes were right along party lines."

Bahr said GOP legislators not only voted against many eco-friendly measures, but often blocked other critical bills from coming to a vote. The Arizona Republican Party and the governor's office did not respond to requests for comment.

Bahr said lawmakers were graded on key environmental legislation, including measures that would block the release of data on endangered species, promote clean air and water, and address climate change.

"Probably the worst bill of this session was signed by the governor, House Bill 2686, and that preempts local government from taking action on climate and limits them from holding utilities accountable," she said.

Bahr said the Report Card lets Arizonans know where the people they elected to represent them stand on important environmental issues. And, she said sometimes, the grades do get a lawmaker's attention.

"There was a Republican who got a failing grade and heard a lot from her constituents because of that," Barr said. "But she said, 'You know, I still remember when that happened. I never heard from so many constituents.' And she was much better on the issues going forward."

The Legislature has adjourned for the year, but could be back again if the governor calls a special session.

It's no secret that the Arizona Legislature is divided firmly along partisan lines. But as Mark Richardson reports, the contrast may be most evident in how lawmakers vote on environmental issues.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ