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Initiative to fix climate flux merits state participation

Citizen Staff Writer
Our Opinion

Arizona earned kudos in 2007 for helping to launch the Western Climate Initiative, a regional effort to reduce emissions of greenhouse gas pollution.

Now that progressive move is under attack by state Rep. Andy Biggs, the Gilbert Republican who last made headlines with his goofy insistence that good education systems don’t bring a state more jobs.

Biggs now has proposed HB 2467, which would prohibit the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality from participating in the move to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

Weirdly, the House Committee on the Environment voted Tuesday in favor of his anti-environment bill.

Biggs says the initiative’s planned cap-and-trade program would drive up consumer energy costs by imposing new requirements on coal-fired electricity plants.

The program is creating a regional market whereby power plants and other entities that pollute too much would either reduce emissions or buy credits so they could exceed the caps.

But given the choice between a cleaner environment and slightly higher energy costs, many Arizonans likely would opt for cleaner air.

And that priority isn’t limited to Arizonans.

Other participants in the cap-and-trade program of the Western Climate Initiative are New Mexico, Utah, California, Oregon, Montana and Washington, as well as the Canadian provinces of Manitoba, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

The partners issued their design recommendations for the cap-and-trade program in September. The recommendations only now are being implemented.

Gov. Jan Brewer had told The Associated Press in December that she favored state involvement to “see what we can do here in Arizona to address that issue.” But she also cited economic concerns and uncertainty about the cap-and-trade program.

Former Gov. Janet Napolitano launched Arizona’s involvement without seeking legislative permission, a fact that miffed more than a few Republican lawmakers.

But the cap-and-trade program isn’t some radical experiment. Such plans already are under way in established markets in the Northeast and Europe.

“It’s ridiculous for Arizona to not have its leading environmental agency address the No. 1 environmental issue facing Arizona,” notes Sandy Bahr of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter.

We agree.

Scientists say the Southwest will suffer more from global warming. Arizona needs to stay in this program and ensure that the regional effort to thwart greenhouse gas emissions succeeds – for the sake of our environment and all who breathe our air.

Our Opinion

The Southwest will be hit harder by climate change and Arizona needs to keep pushing to thwart it.

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