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Protect clean air, develop clean energy

An open letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar:

As business leaders in Arizona’s $18.5 billion tourism and recreation industry, we are writing to urge you to help us to protect the clean air that is vital to the health of our national parks, communities and economy.

By supporting a transition to new, clean energy projects in our state and ensuring that existing coal plants reduce their pollution, you can work with us to restore and protect the clean air and scenic views that attract visitors to the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, and other now-polluted parks in the region.

Restoring and protecting clean air in our national parks is essential for the future of our economy. Welcoming millions of visitors each year, Arizona’s national parks are the cornerstone of rural and urban economies. In 2008 alone, according to the Arizona Tourism Alliance, the tourism and recreation industry supported 310,000 jobs and contributed $18.5 billion in direct economic impact. However, in order to continue to create jobs and generate revenue in our state, we must protect our most valuable assets from dirty, polluted air. We can accomplish both by implementing strong pollution controls at coal-burning power plants and begin to transition to more efficient and renewable energy sources. We encourage you to work with other tribal, federal, state, and private partners to identify solutions that both create local jobs and protect our national treasures.

As members of Arizona’s tourism and recreation economy, we know what it takes to create jobs. With your leadership, we can work together to develop new economic opportunities from clean energy like solar power, protect the national parks that drive our $18.5 billion tourism economy, and have clean, breathable air for our children and grandchildren.

Sincerely,

— Lynne McGinley, Camelback Adventures, Scottsdale; David and Vicki Mackay, Colorado River & Trail Expeditions, Fredonia; Connie Cornelius, MBA, MTA, Affinity Group Tours, Phoenix

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