Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 22, 2008

Host: Ted Simons

Environmental Bill

  • We discuss an important environmental issue on Earth Day. HB2017 restricts implementation of programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Arizona unless they are expressly authorized by federal law and consistent with federal law. We hear support and opposition to the measure.
  • Sandy Bahr - Conservation Outreach Director, Sierra Club's Grand Canyon Chapter
  • Jake Flake - State Senator
Category: Sustainability

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Today is Earth Day, a time to focus our attention on environmental issues. A bill dealing with greenhouse gasses got preliminary approval today in the state legislature. The measure restricts implementation of regional programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Arizona unless they are specifically authorized by, and consistent with, federal law. Here with two differing views on the measure sponsor of the bill, Senator Jake Flake and Sandy Bahr, Conservation Outreach Director Sierra Club's Grand Canyon Chapter. Thank you for joining us.

Jake Flake:
Thank you.

Ted Simons:
Senator, why is this bill necessary?

Jake Flake:
I think it's necessary because I think the legislature needs a public discussion on this and the legislature needs to set this public policy. This is a huge public issue, a huge issue. And something that should be debated in public and debated by the legislature which sets policy and then signed by the governor and let the governor and agencies carryout this policy after it's instituted by the legislature. That's what this bill does.

Ted Simons:
Is there enough legislative input on this initiative and the things the governor wants to do?

Sandy Bahr:
Absolutely. First of all, the best thing you can say about this bill it's premature. Obviously it does over things. It undercuts the clean car standards that's be in the works for couple of years. The governor set up a climate change advisory group. All of the large utilities, salt river project, Arizona Public Service Company and Tucson Electric Power all had seats at that table. Many recommendations came out including ones to participate and look at regional programs and recommendation to implement the clean car standard. The clean car standard passed out of that committee unanimously. None of the businesses objected to it. Now at the last minute, right before it goes to the governor's regulatory review council, the legislature is looking to pull back and undercut that measure.

Jake Flake:
However in this climate change advisory group, there were no legislators present, none invited to the table. There were no automobile manufacturers. There's 25 people to the group, and yes, some of the utilities were invited, no legislators, no auto manufacturers and out of 49--there was 49 recommendations given there, none of which the legislature is even aware of yet, hasn't come out to as yet. And yet this is a policy change where government the legislature sets policy. This is clearly a separation of powers.

Ted Simons:
I was going to ask are you not so much against the idea of cap and tray and the concept of greenhouse gases and these things as opposed to the ideological fight that says get the legislature involved.

Jake Flake:
We know it has to be done. We area concerned about global warming. The President of the United States is accepting out his guidelines. I think the governor just jumped the gun in that she came out with an executive order in February of 2007 that we would join the Western Climate Initiative, the WCI. She jumped the gun without us giving her the authority to do this.

Sandy Bahr:
With all due respect, Senator Flake, the legislature has seen many of the recommendations from the climate change advisory group. They are contained in the various bills that's come to the legislature. The Western Climate Initiative hasn't made final recommendations. Anything that requires legislative implementation has to come to the legislature. They're jumping in to try to stop something before it's even developed. And it would be very silly for Arizona not to be part of all of the other western states who are looking at how can we as a region reduce our gas emissions? It would be silly for the governor to sit on her hands during that and it's unfortunate that that's what the legislature is doing. They are joining President Bush and saying we'll just wait. You know, president bush is saying let's wait until 2025 before we think about doing anything.

Ted Simons:
Senator, what would more legislative input do? What is missing so far that the legislature would bring to the discussion?

Jake Flake:
Public hearings. Public hearings on this put on by the legislature such was done in the short order. We didn't give the time that it deserved in my committee which passed my committee in which over 29 people signed on to speak for this bill. Two people signed on to speak against the bill. One of them being Sandy Bahr.

Sand Bahr:
There are a lot of hearings and clean car rules where a lot of people showed up. It was in the evening and at a time when the general public can participate. The legislature hearings a lot of times the general public can't participate.

Jeff Flake:
With due respect, the hearings with the climate change advisory group were done by teleconference were not in person a-good share of them.

Ted Simons:
Let me ask you something again, I know the argument is to get the legislature more involved. Behind all of this, do you think that greenhouse gases, that climate change, that global warming, do you think these are issues?

Jake Flake:
No matter what I think, as an old-time rural cowboy, I could give you my thoughts on this. It doesn't matter. They're coming whether I want them to or not. I can go back to old-timers older than me and say, well, we've had years like this such and such a time. Whatever we've had, they've seen another one like it. Is that true? Is there a cycle? Whether I think this or not, it did you want matter. This is coming and we have got to get ready for it. The issue is should this be done by the legislature or it should it be done by executive order? I think it should be done by the legislature.

Ted Simons:
Conversely business concerns if Arizona joins on, signs on and goes along with California and western states initiative that businesses might be hesitant to relocate here. That businesses here might hesitate to expand.

Sandy Bahr:
I--well that's not a valid argument in this case.

Jake Flake:
Sure it is.

Sandy Bahr:
The bottom line the western states are looking at it. If we're not part of the western climate initiative process, if we're not looking at cleanup our air through this clean car initiative, yeah, businesses won't want to come here. Who wants to come to a place with unhealthy air? If we don't look at it now, it will cost us more in the future. The clean car standard is one of easiest things we can do relative to transportation. The car companies say, oh, we want the legislature to be involved. Yet in states where legislature has to take specific action, they're opposing it there as well. They have opposed every kind of clean air program you can think of. They said the catalytic converter was going to put them out of business and destroy the economy. They are opposed to safety measures. It's time for the car companies to step up and be part of the solution. In this case the clean car standards is part of the solution. We need to look at all sectors. We need to look at transportation, at electricity production. The more we do now, the less we saddle our kids with the problems.

Ted Simons:
Senator, you said the issues are coming whether you want them here or not. They are heading in this direction?

Jake Flake:

Ted Simons:
Why not take care of it now? Why not approach it now even by way of bypassing the legislature? They will get involved in one way, shape or form, won't it?

Jake Flake:
I think we should get involved. I don't think we should go with the California standards. I think we should wait another year for the national standards which the President has already proposed. He is waiting for congress to act. Our governor didn't wait for us to act. She went ahead and gave us executive order already and put us under California guidelines. I don't want to be under California guidelines. I would rather be under a national standard with us having some say about what that standard is.

Ted Simons:
If it means getting the legislature on board and a better relationship with the legislature, does it hurt to wait a little bit on this?

Sandy Bahr:
Is it absolutely does hurt. Scientists said we should reduce by 2\% per year. We need to start now to do that. The longer we wait, the more it will cost and the harder it will be to reduce those emissions. The bottom line there's legislative authority for implementing clean car rule. It gives the department of environmental authority to reduce emissions. The U.S. Supreme Court hardly a liberal body has said that carbon dioxide is considered a pollutant. With that in place and state law, the environmental has the authority and this is a last minute attempt to undercut it.

Ted Simons:
We have to stop it right there. Thank you for both for joining us.

Jake Flake:
You're welcome.

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