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Ducey on climate change: We can have ‘growing economy,’ ‘improving environment’

Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey speaks to supporters, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at an election night party in Scottsdale, Ariz. Incumbent Ducey defeated Democratic challenger David Garcia for his second term. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Gov. Doug Ducey (AP Photo/Matt York)

Gov. Doug Ducey has finally come around to what a majority of Arizonans believe: human activity is affecting the climate.

“I imagine it’s a combination of things,” the governor said Friday when he was asked by Capitol Media Services. Anyway, Ducey said, it only makes sense that people — and what they do — are having an impact.

“Humans are part of the earth, the environment and the ecosystem,” he said.

That acknowledgment comes four years after Ducey, just months after being sworn into office, had a decidedly different take.

Then, the governor said that, after being briefed by experts, he was convinced that the climate is, in fact, changing.

“It’s going to get warmer here,” he said. But Ducey balked about the reasons why.

“What I am skeptical about is what human activity has to do with it,” he said at the time.

And now?

“The skepticism isn’t so much around causes,” he said Friday. “It’s around suggested remedies.”

Ducey’s comments come on the heels of a release of a statewide survey of 600 likely voters by OH Predictive Insights.

Pollster Mike Noble found that 72 percent of those asked believe the climate is changing, with just 20 percent disagreeing. Even among Republicans the figure who say there is change was 55 percent.

But Noble also found that 62 percent of those in the survey said that change is caused by human activity.

While Ducey’s conclusion that what humans do affects the climate puts him with the majority, it actually puts him out of step with members of his own Republican Party: Only 34 percent of those registered with the GOP see a link between human activity and climate change, versus 85 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of political independents.

The issue, Ducey said, is particularly important here.

“Nobody knows better than the governor of a state like Arizona that has such an arid climate and has had to make so many plans and sacrifices to have the rich and abundant water resources that we have that we have to pay attention to our environment,” he said.

But Ducey showed no interest in taking specific actions, at least at the state level, to deal with any of that, saying Arizona meets or exceeds what’s required under federal law.

“You really are talking about a discussion that you’re going to have nationally,” he said. More to the point, Ducey said it can’t only be this country moving in that direction.

“If the United States decides to do something, other nations that are large emitters like India and China have to come along,” he said.

There are things that states can − and have − done.

California, in particular, has its own set of vehicle emission standards which are tougher than those required under federal law. And while they originally were instituted to fight smog, the newest ones, negotiated with several automobile manufacturers, are designed to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions, including greenhouse gases.

Asked about the California proposals, Ducey said they’re not necessary here.

“I think we can have a balance in these reforms,” he said.

“I think you can have a growing economy and an improving environment,” the governor continued. “That’s what we’re having in Arizona versus what California’s having, which is a mass exodus.”

Still, Ducey was not dismissing the idea of changing emissions standards entirely.

“We should continually improve,” he said.

The telephonic survey was conducted last month using a combination of live interviews and automated responses. It has a margin of error of 4 percent.

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