Friday, June 19, 2009

Sierra Club: "The Number of Just Terrible Bills Moving Through the Process Is Staggering"

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 10:21 PM

The latest bulletin from Sandy Bahr of the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club:

The Legislature has still not conveyed the budget to Governor Brewer, but rather than just wait until June 30, she has filed a lawsuit to compel them to send it to her. This lawsuit will be heard by the Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday. While the Legislature’s budget is truly bad, the Governor’s is not much better. Her budget includes provisions to undercut voter protected measures as well as a provision for further tying the hands of the legislature relative to the budget, often referred to as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). A TABOR provision in Colorado was a disaster for them and they later repealed it. We should just skip it altogether.

The number of bad bills as well as the number of just terrible bills moving through the process is staggering. I really thought they would let some of these bills die a natural death. Because of that, this update is again ungodly long. If are not interested in the schedule, please do take the time to contact your legislators on some of the bills listed first. Thanks!

This week please contact your Senator and ask him or her to oppose the following

bills (all or as many as you are comfortable with):

PLEASE OPPOSE SB1118 NOW: air quality; begin actual construction (S. Allen). This bill addresses permits under the Clean Air Act including Class I permits which are required for facilities with the potential to emit 100 tons per year of any criteria air pollutant, 10 tons per year of any single Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAPS) or 25 tons per year of any combination of HAPS. It redefines “begin actual construction” relative to these permits by excluding activities that you would normally associate with beginning actual construction. They include clearing and grading, demolition, installation of roads, installations of pipes, installation of warehouses, office building, installation of concrete forms, footers, foundations and the list goes on. None of it would be considered beginning actual construction which triggers permitting. It is ridiculous and is again one of those bills that is being promoted to help a facility that violated the law and now wants to get out of it. ADEQ can’t consider any of these activities or how they perform them in addressing the company’s permit if this is passed. This bill is contrary to the Clean Air Act and to improving air quality.

PLEASE OPPOSE SB1147 greenhouse emissions; regulations; fuel economy (S. Allen, Gould, R. Pearce, et al). It requires express legislative authorization in order for any state agency to adopt or enforce a state or regional program to regulate greenhouse gas emissions or motor vehicle fuel economy. This is a silly bill that will likely have limited impact as most of this will end up being enacted by the federal government, but it will tie the hands of the state on some key issues and generally just sends a bad message. It will have a negative impact on air quality by sidetracking the Clean Car Standards.

The Clean Car Standards alone will have enormous air quality benefits and are expected to reduce 5,505 tons of carbon monoxide (CO), 892 tons of hydrocarbons and 1,436 tons of oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) in 2018. Both NOx and hydrocarbons are precursors for ozone formation. Implementation of the standards will reduce ozone-forming pollution, reversing it will make it even more difficult to meet the health based standard. Ozone is a problem and at its worst during the hot summer months. Ozone damages lung tissue by reacting chemically with it and prematurely aging the lungs. Exposure to ozone increases the risk of asthma attacks and reduces lung function. It also causes pulmonary inflammation and risk of premature mortality. Metropolitan Phoenix is one of the top five U.S. cities for asthma-related mortality.

PLEASE OPPOSE SB1225 NOW: dust control; best management practices (S. Pierce). It does several things which will contribute to poor air quality. It adds four people to the agricultural best management practices committee — someone representing a cattle feedlot, a dairy, a poultry operation and a swine operation; this just means more foxes guarding the henhouse (see poultry provisions). The bill also shifts the regulation of particulates, such as it is, of poultry and swine operations as well as feedlots and dairies from the county to this state best management practices committee and to limited, if any, real oversight. Members of the best management practices committee are appointed by the Governor and are responsible for adopting an agricultural general permit that outlines best management practices for regulated agricultural activities in order to reduce particulate (PM-10) emissions. As drafted, the bill will mean backsliding on our state implementation plan for particulates and violates the Clean Air Act as there is no guarantee the best management practices will be as strong as or stronger than those required at the county level. These facilities are not your family farms, but represent industrial agriculture and all of its associated environmental problems. They should be regulated as such. Overall the bill is intended to undercut county authority to regulate these facilities.

Coarse particulates (PM10) are particles that are 10 micrometers in diameter or smaller. (For comparison, the average human hair is about 75 microns.) When these particles are inhaled, they can affect the heart and lungs and increase respiratory symptoms, irritation of the airways, coughing, difficulty breathing, and more. The elderly, children, and those with respiratory or other health issues are at greatest risk relative to particulate pollution. There are many good reasons for opposing this bill, but protecting public health is certainly the most critical one.

PLEASE OPPOSE SB1259 aggregate mine reclamation; initiation; extension (Allen S). It includes one more factor for allowing reclamation of sand and gravel operations to be delayed. The state mine inspector can extend the period in which to initiate reclamation with up to three subsequent five year extensions, if the owner or operator of an exploration operation or aggregate mining unit demonstrates a reasonable likelihood that the project or operation will resume, based on a consideration of changing market conditions and demand for the commodity being mined, in addition to the factors already in law. Do we really need to weaken our already weak reclamation provisions?

PLEASE OPPOSE SB1260 aggregate mine reclamation law; exemption (Allen S). It exempts sand and gravel pits that are intermittently used for specific governmental projects from aggregate mine regulatory and reclamation mandates. It is difficult to see why the bill is necessary or why someone doing government projects should get special consideration. There is already a provision in law which allows the mine inspector to grant three subsequent five year extensions before any reclamation has to begin, so someone can delay fixing a problem for 15 years. This additional exemption is unnecessary and provides another loophole for avoiding reclamation and cleaning up a mess. There are plenty of opportunities for delays and exemptions in our mining laws; we should not add another.

PLEASE OPPOSE SCR1006 state appropriation limit; reduction (R. Pearce, Gorman, Court, et al). It refers to the ballot a measure to prevent the state from appropriating state revenues in excess of seven percent of the total personal income in FY 2010-2011and 6.4 percent in FY 2011-2012. Already, the legislature is finding it impossible to develop a decent budget. This is the last thing we need.

PLEASE OPPOSE SCR1009 voter-protection; temporary budgetary suspension (R. Pearce, Harper, Burges, et al). It refers to the ballot a measure that authorizes the Legislature to appropriate or divert funds created by initiative or referendum in any fiscal year in which the respective budget offices of the Governor and the Legislature issue a written finding, confirmed by the State Treasurer, that the state budget for the preceding two calendar quarters had a deficit of at least one percent of the total state General Fund expenditures. This would significantly undermine the voter protection act as we cannot think of a time when the legislature would not make this finding. Some governors might be slightly more circumspect, but that does not change the fact that this is just a big hole in the constitutional protections for measures that the voters enact.

To email your state senator or to find his/her direct phone number, click on senators or paste http://www.azleg.gov/MemberRoster.asp?Body=S into your browser. If you are not sure who your senator is, please go to http://www.vote-smart.org or call the Senate information desk. If you're outside the Phoenix area, you can call your legislators’ offices toll free at 1-800-352-8404. In the Phoenix area call (602) 926-3559 (Senate) and ask them to connect you with your legislators.

Here is what is coming up this week:

Monday, June 22

Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Infrastructure, and Public Debt at 1:30pm in SHR109
HB2142 county water authority; Colorado river (McLain, Mason, Aguirre, et al) allows for use of Colorado River water in western Arizona for other uses. Currently it restricts the use of this water for industrial. Couldn’t they just leave a little more in the river?
HB2157 wildlife; aquatic invasive species (McLain, Goodale, Jones, et al) allows the Game and Fish Department to establish a program for limiting the introduction of nonnative invasive aquatic species such as the Quagga Mussel. This is a good idea — although a little late in coming. SUPPORT.
HB2167 transportation district working group (Biggs) has a strike everything transportation omnibus bill. The striker was not posted.
HB2250 public trust lands; use permit (McLain, Pancrazi: Crandall, et al) allows the State Land Department to issue a permit for the use of public trust lands along the Colorado River without a public auction. This seems fine.
HB2275 Now: mining study committee (Jones) is an unnecessary and ridiculous committee. First of all, it is stacked with mining industry representatives — the only other members on the committee are legislators or government employees. Next, its mission is geared toward undercutting what little protections we have relative to mining in this state. Already they are exempt from many of our laws, plus we have the weakest reclamation requirements in the west. What else could they possibly want or need? OPPOSE.
HB2277 NOW: agricultural study committee (Jones) establishes in session law a study committee to review agricultural rules and regulation and has similar language as the one above, but focuses on agricultural. OPPOSE.
HB2335 improvement districts; renewable energy (Mason) allows improvement districts to be formed in order to acquire, install, and improve energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements as well as for water conservation. These can include solar energy systems, combined heat and power, rainwater harvesting equipment and systems, and gray water systems. SUPPORT.
HB2337 energy standards; buildings; contracting (Mason, Ableser, Ch. Campbell, et al.) includes several of the provisions from last year’s omnibus energy bill. It makes changes and additions to statute relating to energy efficiency and renewable energy, including performance contracting for school districts and state buildings, and appliance standards. The bill updates Arizona’s appliance standards by adding two new energy efficiency standards not currently covered by federal standards: pool pumps and portable electric spas. SUPPORT.
HB2352 aquifer protection permits; natural gas (Mason) exempts Class I and Class II injection wells for natural gas storage from getting aquifer protection permits. It will allow millions of gallons of briny water to be pumped into a deep aquifer thus writing off that aquifer for drinking water in the future. Arizona’s Aquifer Protection Permit (APP) program was a landmark program when passed in 1986 as part of the Environmental Quality Act. Rather than focus on remediation — trying to clean up a mess after the fact — and enforcement, it focuses on prevention. The program is aimed at keeping pollutants out of our precious aquifers. This is both more environmentally responsible and cheaper in the long run. It is especially important as it is often the public (the taxpayers) that has to pick up the tab for clean up. Arizona also decided at that time that all of its aquifers are important and should be designated as drinking water aquifers. Never before have we just written off an aquifer. This bill does that, but does so in a less than forthright manner. If Arizona does want to change the designation of an aquifer, there is a process for doing so. It is a very public process, involves studying the aquifer, and it allows for public comments and requires a public hearing. HB2352 will write off those aquifers without the proper findings and without the same level of public involvement. That is just plain wrong. The exemption hands the process over to EPA, where the requirements are not as stringent. Arizona’s water and future are too important to write off so cavalierly. The company seeking this exemption, Multifuels out of Houston, Texas, has indicated that it needs this exemption to secure its financing. They want to do this project in Pinal County, but the exemption applies statewide. Is it really worth risking Arizona’s aquifers and possible future drinking water supplies to allow them to get financing for this project? OPPOSE.
HB2424 illegal dumping; penalties (McGuire, Barnes, M. Garcia, et al) increases the penalty for illegal dumping of trash to a class 1 misdemeanor and a $1,800 fine, among other things. SUPPORT.
HCM2006 state land; natural resources (Jones, Konopnicki: Barto, et al) is a memorial that asks Congress to “. . . refrain from passing any new legislation to withdraw any lands in Arizona from mining, and refrain from enacting any wilderness designations in Arizona without the unanimous support of Arizona’s congressional delegation.” It asks, “That the Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest Service not limit the public’s access to public lands under their jurisdiction for mining, grazing, recreation or other uses.” We do not need more trashed public lands, polluted ground and surface water, and a big mess for the public to clean up. While we recognize it is only a “postcard” to congress and does not affect the law, it is a truly bad message to send — to Congress or anyone. The memorial is disrespectful of the many local and tribal entities that have been working to protect the Grand Canyon area from uranium mining. OPPOSE.
HCR2030 NOW: Arizona's water protection (Stevens, Gowan, Antenori, et al) is ironically titled. What it advocates is no protection for most of our rivers and streams and specifically objects to Clean Water Act protections for ephemeral and intermittent streams. HCR2030 encourages members of Congress to oppose the “expansion of the federal Point Source Discharge Program” as current legislation proposes and “oppose any legislation that would result in the expansion of federal jurisdiction and emasculation of the states’ jurisdiction.” The legislation they mention is called the Clean Water Restoration Act and it hardly “emasculates” state jurisdiction, but it does ensure that waters have the minimal protections afforded by the Clean Water Act, rather than weak, if any, protections at the state level. The Clean Water Restoration Act restores the traditional scope of protection intended by Congress. Americans need these safeguards to achieve the goal of restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. HCR2030 is merely a “postcard” to Congress, but it again sends a bad message. OPPOSE.
SB1077 technical correction; state trust lands (Nelson) has a strike everything on state trust land reform and is the companion bill to SCR1030. It identifies specific lands to be conserved, but leaves out key lands, plus it restricts the use of impact fees for acquiring lands, among many other issues. The definition of conservation in both this and in SCR1030 is very weak. More on this later. OPPOSE.
SB1226 stockpond registration; technical correction (S. Pierce) has a strike-everything amendment on assured water supply rules. The amendment extends the deadline from 2025 to 2050 for allowing sixty-five thousand acre-feet of groundwater to be withdrawn within all active management areas pursuant to approved remedial action projects under the federal superfund law. This affects the huge Van Buren plume in Phoenix and will allow additional delay on cleaning up this mess. OPPOSE.
SB1307 state lands; mass appraisal guidelines (Paton: Hale, S. Pierce, et al) requires notification of lessees regarding mass appraisals. I am still not sure why this is needed.
SCR1030 technical correction; bond elections (Nelson) has a strike everything amendment on state trust land reform that is a proposed constitutional amendment that allows for some conservation of some state trust lands. There are several problems with the measure including that it allows for land exchanges, it leaves out key lands, and it allows for destructive activities to continue on lands that are in theory conserved. OPPOSE.

Senate Committee on Judiciary at 1:30pm in SHR1
HB2424 illegal dumping; penalties (McGuire, Barnes, M. Garcia, et al). See above.

House Committee on Natural Resources at 2:00pm in HHR4
SB1183 recreational corridor districts; termination date (Burns) allows people in these areas where there are sand and gravel operations to continue to form new taxing districts for these recreational corridors for another five years (at least it is no longer indefinitely). These districts are effectively channelization programs for the sand and gravel operations and are a way of shifting reclamation responsibilities away from the companies. OPPOSE.
SB1225 NOW: dust control; best management practices (S. Pierce). See above.
SB1256 NOW: mining omnibus (S. Allen) allows the mine inspector to collect fees for education and training and for changes in reclamation plans. I see no issues with it.
SB1259 aggregate mine reclamation; initiation; extension (S. Allen) See above.
SB1260 aggregate mine reclamation law; exemption (S. Allen) See above
SCM1002 statewide strategy; restoring Arizona's forests (S. Allen) is a memorial that basically recognizes the need for forest restoration and asks the Governor and the Forest Service to validate and institutionalize the consensus agreement reached in the Statewide Strategy and the Analysis of Small-Diameter Wood Supply in Northern Arizona. This is an agreement worked on by the Center for Biological Diversity and Grand Canyon Trust that does include some important side bars, such as limiting activities in important wildlife habitat, roadless areas, etc. WE ARE MONITORING THIS.

Tuesday, June 23

Senate Committee on Government Institutions at 8:00am in SHR1
HB2258 consumer fireworks; novelties, sales (Biggs, Ableser, Quelland) makes sparklers and other related fireworks legal in Arizona. Don’s we have enough fire hazards? The fire chiefs and Forest Service have consistently opposed this. We have consistently joined them in doing so. OPPOSE.
HB2336 NOW: county renewable energy incentive districts (Mason) authorizes county boards of supervisors to designate renewable energy incentive districts in any unincorporated area of the counties, provided the areas consist of vacant or underused parcels, or other property the board deems suitable for renewable energy equipment, and are the appropriate size for the construction and operation of renewable energy equipment. It must also be compatible with the surrounding uses. SUPPORT.

Senate Committee on Commerce and Economic Development at 1:30pm in SHR1
HB2337 energy standards; buildings; contracting (Mason, Ableser, Ch. Campbell, et al.) See above.
HB2341 renewable energy production tax credit (Mason) allows for a tax credit for production of renewable energy, but among the qualifying renewable energy sources is biomass, which itself is not a problem, but the definition of biomass in this bill makes it a problem. The definition of biomass includes municipal solid waste. We are concerned about the inclusion of municipal solid waste as incineration of municipal waste produces unacceptable toxic and hazardous air emissions, including dioxins and furans, as well as trace metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury. All of these have negative human health impacts. The public can be exposed via direct inhalation or via the food chain, including via deposition to growing crops. Why would you want to subsidize that? There may be an amendment to remove this provision, which would significantly improve the bill. If this is amended, we will be neutral on it.

Wednesday, June 24

Senate Finance Committee at 1:30pm in SHR3
HB2335 improvement districts; renewable energy (Mason). See above

For more information on bills we are tracking, click on Legislative Tracker or paste http://arizona.sierraclub.org/political_action/tracker/ into your browser.

Thank you for all you do and all of your great support!


Sandy Bahr
Chapter Director
Sierra Club - Grand Canyon Chapter
202 E. McDowell Rd, Suite 277
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Phone (602) 253-8633
Fax (602) 258-6533
sandy.bahr@sierraclub.org

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