Friday, April 23, 2010

Sierra Club Update: Weakening Water Protections & Saving the Incandescent Light Bulb

Posted By on Fri, Apr 23, 2010 at 8:47 AM

Sierra Club lobbyist Sandy Bahr delivers another depressing dispatch from the Arizona Legislature:

Hi everyone! We keep hoping that the end is near for this legislative debacle known as the 49th Legislature, second regular session, but apparently there is yet more harm to be done. This week they passed along HCR2008 NOW: hunting and fishing; constitutional rights (JP Weiers, Gowan, Crump, et al) 18-9-3 in the Senate. It will now appear on the ballot in November. HCR2008 is a proposed constitutional amendment that, if passed, will put hunting in the basic Declaration of Rights in the Constitution and will have a significant and negative impact on wildlife and wildlife management in Arizona by elevating it

from a privilege. Please thank senators Aboud, Burton-Cahill, Cheuvront, Garcia, Hale, Landrum-Taylor, Lopez, McCune-Davis, and Miranda, for voting no.

The Senate also passed HB2617 by a 16-12-2 vote. It must go back to the House for Final passage as it was amended in the Senate. Please contact your Representatives in the Arizona House and ask them to vote no on HB2617 mining amendments; water; permits; rules (Jones, Gowan, Mason et al). This bill weakens protections for Arizona’s waters. HB2617 is a classic fox guarding the henhouse bill that establishes the mining advisory council, an entity that will help the agencies make sure the regulations work for the industry. The council will assist with rule making, review decisions by administrative law judges, and generally allow early and undue influence by the mines on the rulemaking process. HB2617 will result in less protection for Arizona’s waters. It gives mining companies even more exemptions from specific provisions in the law relative to water quality and water quantity and sacrifices protection of our water for the short-term interests of these companies.

Thank your Representatives for supporting SCR1047 state lands; military installation; preservation (Nelson). It passed out of the House 60-0. SCR1047 refers to the ballot a constitutional amendment that authorizes land exchanges between the State Land Department and the Federal Government. The land exchanges can be for two purposes including for protection of military facilities and to provide for proper management, protection or public use of state lands. An exchange would have to be referred to the ballot by the Legislature and approved by the voters in order to be consummated. All exchanges must have two appraisals and analysis as well as be vetted at two public meetings. Full disclosure of the parcels involved is also required. We have opposed most of the past land exchange measures — exchange proposals have been on the ballot six times and defeated by the voters six times — but we are supporting this proposal because it includes the kind of transparency and accountability that is necessary to ensure that land exchanges are in the best interest of the trust and the larger public.

They also brought back a bill to repeal the Clean Elections system. Ask House members to oppose that as well — SCR1009 publicly financed elections; prohibition.

To email your legislators or find their direct phone numbers, click on Legislators or paste into your browser. 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) or (602) 926-4221 (House) and ask them to connect you with your legislators.

Here is an update on some of the bills we are following:

HB2060 public conservation monies; transfer (Nichols) seems to have gone away for the session. It has stopped appearing on Third Read calendars. It diverts $40 million from the Public Conservation Account in the Land Conservation Fund established by the voters in 1998 when they approved the Growing Smarter Act referred to the ballot by the Arizona Legislature. The dollars are diverted to state parks and to historical societies. While these are worthy causes, they are not the causes for which these dollars were approved by Arizona voters. This bill is unconstitutional, just as it was last year, as it in no way furthers the purpose, plus there is no guarantee that any of these dollars will ever be restored. OPPOSE.

HB2146 trust lands; loss of lease (Konopnicki) passed out of the House on Final Read 38-17-5 and has been transmitted to the Governor. It is not in the best interest of the trust or trust beneficiaries — primarily the public schools. HB2146 creates another and significant obstacle to any competition relative to State Trust Land grazing leases. It requires that anyone, with the exception of the existing lessee, who wants to apply for a grazing lease get a list and an appraisal of all nonremovable “improvements” on the lands. This includes fences, water tanks, and such. Applicants must already pay for the improvements if they are awarded the lease, but this requires significant expenditure of dollars before even applying. HB2146 also requires the State Land Commissioner to sign an agreement to reimburse lessees for improvements on the lands when an existing lease is cancelled and there is no new lessee or buyer for the land within 90 days after the lease termination date. This is irrespective of how the improvements were paid for in the first place and irrespective of whether or not it is in the best interest of the trust. OPPOSE.

HB2211 political subdivisions; volunteers; noxious weeds (Reagan, Cajero Bedford, Nelson, et al) was signed by the Governor. This bill provides a narrow exemption for licensing requirements relative to pesticide application for volunteers working with political subdivisions and under supervision of a licensed applicator. They must have been trained and there are limits on the amounts and types of herbicides. Limiting the use of herbicides to the greatest degree possible is critical, but it is one of the tools in battling buffel grass and other invasive plants. We encourage your support for this narrow exemption in order to allow application of low toxicity herbicides where absolutely necessary and to battle buffel grass and other invasive plant species that threaten our Sonoran Desert vegetation by crowding out native plants and promoting unnatural fire regimes in these desert landscapes. SUPPORT.

HB2260 regulatory rule making (Tobin) was held in the Senate caucuses. It makes a number of changes to the rule-making process and extends the rule-making moratorium to FY 2010-2011. The bill requires that agencies use general permits rather than individual permits and includes several exemptions — one of those exemptions should be that they cannot default to a general permit if the general permit is less protective of the resources or the public health. The problem is that most general permits are less protective and do not require public notice and public hearings, so there is limited to no public involvement. We also object to continuing a rule-making moratorium as it will hinder needed changes and implementation of key programs to protect the environment. OPPOSE.

HB2289 water recharge; direct use (Pratt, McGuire: Barnes) passed in the Senate 21-7-2 and has been transmitted to the Governor. HB2289 allows the Director of the Department of Water Resources to exclude very specific groundwater when calculating a water storer’s long-term storage credit. This is being added to the statutes specifically for Resolution Copper Company (aka Rio Tinto). The company is banking “excess” Central Arizona Project water for future mining operations and in doing so accrues long-term credits. Resolution Copper is also dewatering the Magma mine. The groundwater they are pumping should be charged against the credits they get for the CAP water, but they are attempting to create this loophole in the law, so that the groundwater pumping is not charged against their credits. The law requires it to be an offset if the groundwater can be used directly — in this case for the New Magma Irrigation and Drainage District. This bill will allow them to receive those credits and have no offsets. OPPOSE.

HB2337 Arizona manufactured incandescent light bulbs; regulation (Antenori, Biggs, Gowan, et al) awaits action in Senate Committee of the Whole. It says that incandescent light bulbs that are manufactured and sold in Arizona are not subject to federal law. This is an anti-energy efficiency bill that is probably unconstitutional and is reminiscent of the bill passed by the legislature that made it okay to manufacture and chlorofluorocarbons despite federal law and international treaties. Federal law requires that more efficient light bulbs be manufactured over time. The best thing about this bill is the opportunity for light bulb jokes. OPPOSE.

HB2442 greenhouse gas emissions; regulations (Burges, Antenori, Barnes, et al) passed in the Senate 18-10-2. It prohibits state agencies from adopting or enforcing a state or regional program to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases without express legislative authorization. It includes legislative intent that attempts to limit the focus of this prohibition to only market-based mechanisms, but the actual language in the bill is quite broad. It will likely create enough confusion that our State will once again be left behind in seeking solutions to critical problems, whether they are regulatory or market-based. OPPOSE.

HB2464 S/E lease of state parks (McLain, Ash, Bradley, et al) awaits action in Senate Committee of the Whole. It forces State Parks to enter into a lease agreement with Lake Havasu City to lease Lake Havasu State Park — and here is the kicker — for only $50,000 per year. That is well below the amount generated by this park, which is at a minimum several hundred thousand. This is one of the parks that makes money and helps support the system, yet now they want to basically steal it and the revenues. It is bad policy and also sends a terrible message. OPPOSE.

HB2599 NOW: state parks fund; voluntary contributions (Kavanagh) was defeated in the Senate 14-14-2. The bill establishes the Sustainable State Parks Fund, consisting of monies collected through voluntary contributions, which individuals could donate on motor vehicle registration and renewal applications. This is no answer to the State Parks funding needs and is likely to generate little in the way of revenue — especially when people know it could just be swept by the Legislature. Apparently some people think it is better than nothing, but bills like this that help mask the critical needs of Parks are detrimental to the system. OPPOSE.

HB2661 statewide water augmentation authority; study (Tobin) awaits a Third Read in the Senate. It requires the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) to appoint a Water Resources Development Commission to identify and quantify the water supplies currently available in each county; identify water supplies to meet additional demands and any legal and technical issues; identify mechanisms for financing the delivery of water supplies; and make recommendations regarding further studies and evaluations. There is no mention of conservation or sustainability in this bill, besides, with the cuts to the ADWR there is no way they will be able to properly staff this committee. OPPOSE.

HB2700 solar energy tax incentives; extension (Boone) awaits a Third Read in the Senate. It extends the tax credits for commercial and industrial solar installations from 2012 to 2018. SUPPORT.

HB2767 water quality fees (Jones, McGuire, Pratt, et al) awaits action in Senate Committee of the Whole. It establishes a fee advisory council that includes a who’s who of big polluters — it does not even include a token member of the public or environmental advocacy organization. The bill allows the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to assess fees for the pollutant discharge elimination system permit program and to establish them for aquifer protection permits — those are currently capped in session law. We want the agency to be able to assess fees so it can actually implement these programs, but this fee advisory group is a bit much. This is part of the process to make this agency a permit mill. WATCH.

HCR2039 temporary suspension; voter protected funding (Kavanagh: Antenori, Biggs, et al) awaits action in Senate Rules. It refers to the ballot a measure which allows the legislature to appropriate or divert not more than fifty per cent of any fund revenue or fund balance created or allocated to a specific purpose by any measure. This is to nip away at the voter protection act provisions in the Arizona Constitution. If passed by voters — and we do not think they will — it will mean future voter-approved measures are gutted by the Arizona Legislature. OPPOSE.

HCR2041 funding ballot measures; reauthorization (Stevens, Ash, Gowan, et al) awaits action in Senate Rules. It refers to the ballot a measure that states that if an initiative or referendum authorizes or requires the expenditure of state monies, that authorization or requirement is valid only for eight fiscal years. At the end of this authorization period, a reauthorization measure has to be referred to the ballot. An automatic referral is unnecessary and unwise as it would mean we would spend all of our time just trying to maintain rather than improve. The Legislature, through a majority vote, can refer any of these measures at any time. OPPOSE.

SB1063 S/E public transportation; regional planning (Nelson) passed on Final Read in the Senate 23-5-2. It makes changes to the Regional Transportation Plan statute to conform to federal law. It appears to be fine. MONITOR.

SB1193 agricultural best management practices; enforcement (S. Pierce) passed in the Senate on Final Read 23-5-2. It states that the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has exclusive jurisdiction over the enforcement of dust control regulations for agricultural activities in current and future PM-10 nonattainment areas and totally pre-empts local government. This bill sprung out of an enforcement action by Maricopa County, something they should be doing to protect the public health. OPPOSE.
SB1201 renewable energy tax incentive revisions (Leff) awaits a Third Read in the House. It fixes many of the problems with last year’s manufacturing tax credits bill and clarifies dates. SUPPORT.

SB1359 department of water resources fund (S. Pierce, Aguirre, Ash, et al.) awaits action in House Committee of the Whole. It establishes the Water Resources Fund and redirects existing fee monies from the state General Fund to this fund. This will allow the fees to be used for the purposes for which they were assessed. Ensuring that our water laws are followed is critical as there is little that is more important than water for Arizona’s future. SUPPORT.

SB1398 federal regulations; local coordination (S. Allen, Gould, C. Gray, et al) passed out of the House 34-23-3 and was transmitted to the Governor. It requires a city, town, county, or district to demand through any lawful means that the federal government coordinate with the city, town, county or district before implementing, enforcing, or extending federal regulations. It appears to be aimed primarily at environmental protections. We support coordination on all levels relative to all laws, but we do not support the provisions of this bill which are more about trying to scuttle moving forward with planning and action relative to environmental protections. OPPOSE.

SB1408 agricultural best management; dust; districts (Melvin, S. Allen, Pierce, et al) was signed by the Governor. It expands the activities that are subject to the Best Management Practices (BMP) general permit to include irrigation districts, but only irrigation districts in nonattainment areas formed after 2009 (Pinal County). It makes the irrigation districts in Pinal County subject to the BMP general permit requirements. Irrigation districts cover quite a lot of land in Pinal County. These BMPs are weak and generally not enforced, so having them apply to more entities will not get us cleaner air, but only will serve to weaken the counties’ ability to implement measures to protect public health. OPPOSE.

SB1410 trust land exchanges; military preservation (Nelson) passed out of the House 60-0. It includes the statutory provisions for exchanging state trust lands under narrow conditions and for very specific purposes. The specific lands to be exchanged would have to be referred to the ballot and approved by the voters. They have to do an assessment, appraisals, public meetings and comments prior to moving forward the exchange. It is conditional on the public passing SCR1047. SUPPORT.

SB1411 NOW: dairy farms; zoning; agricultural purpose (Nelson) awaits action in House Committee of the Whole. It exempts feeding pens, feed lots and feed areas from county zoning regulations. This is ridiculous. Counties must have the authority to zone to ensure compatible uses — that protects residents as well as these facilities. The environmental impacts of these large feed lot operations are significant including air quality and water quality issues. This bill will ensure more conflicts, which is what zoning is intended to avoid. OPPOSE.

SB1445 groundwater transportation; Big Chino sub-basin (S. Pierce, Burns, Nelson) passed out of the House 39-16-5 and has been transmitted to the Governor. This is a bill to address a portion of the Salt River Project (SRP) and Prescott agreement in principle relative to the Big Chino Sub-Basin and the upper portion of the Verde River. The Big Chino Sub-Basin is key to the Verde River as it provides more than 80% of the base flows for the upper stretches. Back in 1991, a special provision was written into the Groundwater Code which allows Prescott to import water from outside the Active Management Area. These measures don’t keep rivers flowing or create a sustainable system. OPPOSE.

SCR1046 jurisdiction over intrastate waters (C. Gray, Gould: S. Allen, et al) still awaits action in the House Committee of the Whole. It refers to the ballot a proposed constitutional amendment that is an attempt to undermine Clean Water Act protection for most of Arizona’s waters. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 94% of Arizona’s streams could lose protection under a measure such as SCR1046, merely because they do not flow year round. OPPOSE.

If you are not sure who your legislators are, please go to or call the House or Senate information desks. For more information on bills we are tracking, go to Thank you!

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