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House bill undermines established Clean Energy Rules and Arizona’s public health

As organizations committed to improving and protecting a healthy Arizona, the American Lung Association and Arizona Public Health Association are deeply disappointed that the Arizona State Legislature is attempting to roll back protections for Arizonans’ health and clean energy.

Elizabeth Walton

Elizabeth Walton

The Arizona Corporation Commission set a health-protective policy to move our state toward a carbon-free electricity standard by 2050. These Energy Rules prioritize cleaner energy with more reliance on our most abundant natural resource – solar. This makes both public health and economic sense and is long overdue.

Just last year, the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report showed that 85% of all Arizonans live in a county impacted by poor air quality. It also noted that Phoenix was in the Top Ten for most ozone days, most particle pollution days and for unhealthy annual levels of particle pollution.

These levels of pollution combined with warming temperatures have detrimental effects on public health. Breathing such pollutants contribute to increased risk of severe asthma attacks, shortness of breath, cardiovascular and developmental harm, lung cancer and even premature death.

Communities of color and low-income families have too often faced the increased brunt of these burdens due to significantly higher exposure levels. Two-thirds of voters agree that investments in clean energy should benefit the communities of color most impacted by pollution.

Arizonans know that we face some of the most difficult air pollution challenges in the country. A Lung Association poll released after the election showed voters view the Arizona Corporation Commission Energy Rules favorably. A full 70% of voters support the requirement for Arizona utilities to get 100% of energy from carbon free sources by 2050. Over 80% support greater investment in energy efficiency, and 79% believe Arizona should use more solar power.

Will Humble

Will Humble

The ACC Energy Rules reflect the priority of voters because they provide solutions for a healthier more resilient future for Arizona.

And yet, many members of the Legislature think that they know better than voters and are attempting to undermine the clean energy rules.

HB2248 is designed to strip the ACC’s authority to adopt clean energy policies that protect health, reduce air pollution, and save on electricity costs. While it seemed the bill was stalled, HB2248 passed out of Senate Appropriations on March 31, and could be on Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk shortly.

Members of the ACC are elected directly by the voters of Arizona to ensure reliable, affordable, and safe utility services. They deliberated long and hard and are committed to implementing clean energy requirements that safeguard health, protect rate payers and secure dependable power now and for generations to come.

Let’s let the Arizona Corporation Commission do their job and operate as an independent agency as constitutionally mandated. They have spoken and are in the process of finalizing clean energy rules.

We urge you to make it clear to your state representatives and senators that clean energy is a priority and ask them to let the Arizona Corporation Commission to do the work that we elected them to do.

Will Humble, MPH, is the Executive Director of the Arizona Public Health Association and former Director for the Arizona Department of Health Services. You can follow him on Twitter at @willhumble_azElizabeth Walton is the Executive Director for the American Lung Association in Arizona. 

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