We live in the Sonoran Desert, and it’s time we started acting like it. Arizona is on the verge of a water crisis– thanks to long-term drought and rising temperatures.

Did the Arizona Legislature tackle impending water crisis in 2018? No. In fact, the Republican-led Legislature marched backward on environmental policy overall.

gas tank removal
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) removes a massive gasoline storage tanks from a defunct gas station in Phoenix. There are unused and abandoned gas storage tanks across the state, but ADEQ doesn’t have the funds to mitigate the potentially contaminated property in a timely fashion. I think the corporations who owned these businesses should clean them up, or the Legislature should devote more funds to the ADEQ to clean up all of these known environmental hazards.

At every turn, Republicans have taken steps to weaken water laws, eliminate environmental protections and reviews, under-fund environmental clean-up efforts, threaten endangered species, deny the existence of climate change, and take pot shots at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Democrats have argued valiantly against dozens of potentially devastating environmental bills but with little success. Ever since Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin’s “Drill, baby, drill” speech, Republicans have been marching in lock step in favor of long-term environmental degradation in exchange for short-term financial reward.

It has been 10 years since Al Gore’s groundbreaking film about climate change– An Inconvenient Truth. Since then, large carbon producers have spent billions of dollars casting doubt on climate science, according to a recent article in The Guardian.

The ongoing debate regarding whether or not climate change is real and human-caused has spilled over into the policy arena. Our federal government is currently controlled by climate deniers, many of whom campaigned on a platform of stepping back from international environmental agreements, dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), eliminating or weakening environmental regulations, reducing wildlife protections, reducing the number of national monuments and protected areas, and even opening up national monuments and parks to oil and gas exploration and drilling. Is this a plan that benefits the people of the United States or the world? Of course not.

Lake Erie
Lake Erie, circa 1959.

Some of my colleagues in the Arizona Legislature believe that too many natural resources are being wasted because they are on protected land that can’t be commercialized. “There are too many trees. We don’t need that many trees,” one of my Republican colleagues told me quite sincerely. The #DrillBabyDrill mentality of Sarah Palin.

I grew up on Lake Erie. As a child, I have wonderful memories of weekends at the beach swimming and boating with my extended family. By the time I was in junior high school, the beaches of Lake Erie were strewn with dead perch that were killed by industrial pollution from the factories. There were so many dead fish on the beach that you couldn’t walk without stepping on them. That was the United States before the EPA. I don’t want to go back there. The EPA was an attempt at balanced policy because the people who make money from polluting the air and water are held accountable.

I support the sustainable energy and sound water policy, but I do not consider myself an expert on all of the nuances of water or environmental policy. I have attended nearly all of the Water Wise luncheons and other water briefings, to learn more. In the Arizona Legislature, we all have our specialties– mine being topics related to health and economics. I rely on advice from colleagues like environmental lawyer Rep. Kirsten Engel (LD10), water expert Rep. Rosanna Gabaldon (LD2), and community experts from the Sierra Club, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Sustainable Tucson, and Progressive Democrats of America. I am proud to have earned an A rating and continued endorsements (2016, 2018) from the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club.

I am open to new ideas. I want to hear your stories and thoughts on climate change and protecting our environment. Let’s talk.

Here are a few blog posts and videos related to environmental policy.

Balancing Responsibility & Liberty: The Yin & Yang of Public Policy 

Legislative Whirlwind Part 2: ADEQ Gas Tank Removal in Phoenix 

Legislative Whirlwind Part 3: 92,000 Cows

Legislative Whirlwind Part 4: Lettuce & Birds (video)