Shedd: California regulation vs. AZ innovation
by TIFFANY SHEDD Guest Column Apr 20, 2022
As an Arizonan who has spent decades working in the natural resource sector, I’m constantly battling the idea that we need more regulations to preserve our environment for future generations. But the data shows that Arizona is taking the right approach to the environment, and states like California could learn a thing or two from us.
Our neighbor to the left is revered in elite circles for its progressive clean air and water regulations. “Increased regulations!” is the mantra California lives by to save the earth. The Golden State uses the heavy hand of government to wag its finger and turn its nose up at clean coal, nuclear, natural gas and hydropower energy production, all while rolling blackouts continue to turn off the lights for millions.
Despite California’s claim to be climate champions, the state’s regulatory regime has produced dangerous levels of polluted water that put more than 800,000 residents at risk due to fecal matter, arsenic, lead and radiologic contamination.
Arizona, the forever independent sister-state to the right, has pursued public policy with the idea that economic and environmental success go hand-in-hand. The Grand Canyon State understands that burdensome regulation and government interference stifle innovation by the private sector.
Our gold standard, balanced energy portfolio that includes nuclear, hydropower, solar and natural gas, have led the way in energy innovation, proving that a market-based approach works.
We have also reduced our CO2 emissions while avoiding rolling blackouts, even during the hottest summer months. Arizona is the leader in the West in the reduction of greenhouse gas. From 2011 to 2020, Arizona reduced its CO2 per capita greenhouse gas emissions by 40.13%, while California has reduced theirs by only 17.48%, according to data from the EPA. Further, Arizona has reduced our greenhouse gas emissions more than the three heavily regulated states of Washington, Oregon and California combined at 35.31%.
Additional data from the EPA shows California has the worst air quality in the United States, with 34 million people living in areas that do not meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards — standards set to ensure that people do not suffer serious injury to their health simply from breathing.
Additionally, the EPA has pointed out that the growing homelessness crisis in California’s major cities contributes to pathogens and contaminants from human waste entering nearby waters. Even more troubling is the city of San Francisco’s years-long practice of routinely discharging more than 1 billion gallons of combined sewage and stormwater into San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean annually.
In Arizona, 82% of all treated wastewater generated within the Phoenix Active Management Area (60% of Arizona’s population) is beneficially reused or recharged. For decades, wastewater has been an important renewable resource for Arizona cities. It is typically treated and used for irrigating non-food crops, watering ballparks and golf courses, and replenishing the underground aquifers that store drinking water.
As it turns out, free market principles and limited-government policies based on reasonable, rational and science-based solutions that encourage private sector innovation are good for the environment. Let’s not California our Arizona.
Tiffany Shedd is a lifelong Arizonan and Republican candidate for attorney general. She is a water and business law attorney and farmer residing with her family in Eloy.