Arizona Voters Know: It’s Time for Politicians to Say ‘No’ to Fossil Fuel Money

Arizonans got a taste of what pollutant free skies will look like, but the fossil fuel industry doesn’t want you to get used to it.

As the Coronavirus pandemic keeps more drivers at home, beautiful, intensely clear blue skies are a temporary sign of the times in Tucson. Air pollution that causes smog is down, but, unfortunately, the long-term trend of air quality getting worse continues. 

Cars aren’t the only cause of toxic pollutants that form dangerous ozone.  “Automobiles, power plants, factories and manufacturing centers emit the nitrogen oxide necessary for ozone formation.” Imagine if it were possible to keep these clear blue skies even after Coronavirus goes away. How can we help make this happen?

Well, since Tucson is rated as being the third fastest warming city in the United States, and Arizona will suffer more than most of the United States as our climate heats up, you would think our state would be at the forefront of efforts to decrease pollution so we can protect ourselves from climate change damage. But, you would be wrong. Fossil fuel money ensures the state legislators favor fossil fuel profits over our health. For example;

  • in the 2018 midterm elections, the Arizona Public Service Company (APS) our state’s largest electric utility, spent almost $22 million to kill Prop 127, which would have required all the state’s utilities to get half of their energy from renewable sources by 2030.
  • Also our Republican Attorney General Brnovich joined lawsuits against the Clean Power Plan, and the mercury and toxic standards in the Clean Air Act;
  • and in 2020 our Republican-controlled state legislature (with the help of five Democrats) passed a bill backed by Southwest Gas that will  “stymie future efforts by local municipalities to mandate cleaner energy and air.” (See the list of legislators who voted for this anti-environmental bill here.)

Sadly, it isn’t possible to oust Brnovich in 2020 – this position isn’t up again until 2022 – and he can’t run for Attorney General again right away as he will have served the two-consecutive term limit. (Watch out for him to run in another state-wide race though.) 

It is vital that voters pay attention to the agendas of candidates who are :

  • State legislators on the 2020 ballot who can enact laws for the whole state that either help or hurt our environmental situation
  • Arizona Corporation Commissioner candidates who oversee utility companies
  • Candidates running for other positions, such as Pima County Supervisors, County Assessor and the Pima County Attorney, who though they lack the ability to enact harmful statewide legislation, can still
    • endorse harmful ballot initiatives or work against helpful ones
    • reinforce false narratives about climate change that serve to stop or slow corrective action
    • and work to strengthen the influence of pro-fossil-fuel entities pushing a profits-first, environment-last agenda, to the detriment of constituents.

The power of money pouring into our state’s political system from fossil fuel interests presents a real dilemma for Arizona voters who value our environment and want politicians who will work to ensure our health and safety. Some believe we just need to wait until the state legislature is Democratically controlled, and then our course will automatically tilt toward environmentally friendly legislation and away from the fossil fuel industry’s control. California offers a cautionary tale for how this is not likely to be the case. Control-hungry fossil fuel companies in their state backed compliant, complicit Democrats when the Republicans were no longer in power.

How do we know which candidates are serious about shifting our dependence from fossil-based fuels to renewable energy? 

Represent Me AZ will publish a series of articles to explain how much, and from where, fossil fuel money is coming into our system; how local politicians are voting on fossil fuel-related legislation; and what candidates’ plans are for mitigating global warming issues.

In addition, we are publishing a list below of which local candidates have, and have not, signed the No Fossil Fuels Pledge from the Sunrise Movement.

“Taking the pledge means that a politician and their campaign will adopt a policy to not knowingly accept any contributions over $200 from the PACs, lobbyists, or SEC-named executives of fossil fuel companies — companies whose primary business is the extraction, processing, distribution, or sale of oil, gas, or coal.”

We will update this list as more candidates take the pledge. If your local candidates have signed the pledge, take to social media, phone calls and e-mails to thank them. If they have not signed on, use the same techniques to let them, and the world, know you expect them to do right by us and our environment.