This is Environment Week at the State Capitol, and I want to highlight some of the bills that I have introduced this session to help Arizona deal with climate change.
Arizona is the most beautiful state in the country, and it is so important that we make decisions now that help us protect our state’s beauty and natural resources for future generations.
We have some work to do. Maricopa County has some of the worst air quality in the nation, and 2021 began with record-breaking air pollution in the Valley.
December was also Arizona’s most intense period of drought in the past 20 years with nearly 77 percent of the state impacted.
Summer of 2020 was the hottest on record.
All five of the bills I have introduced are common sense approaches to help deal with climate change and ensure Arizona can reap the benefits of our bountiful sun and the green jobs that will be created over the next decade.
First and foremost, we need a plan to deal with climate change. HB2496 is a simple and direct one sentence bill: requiring Arizona to “develop a plan to address the effects of climate change on this state.”
During my career leading organizations in the private sector, I learned long ago that the first step in solving any problem is a plan to directly confront it. Arizona needs to develop a thoughtful plan to deal with climate change.
My other bills will help Arizonans conserve water and utilize our 300-plus days of sun to help power our homes and even our school buses. HB2286 encourages more water-efficient plumbing fixtures.
HB2287 is a $1.5 million appropriation to the Department of Education to provide grants for electric school buses. And HB2528 supports roof-top solar by allowing customers to distribute power they generate back to public power utilities (like SRP) at the same competitive rates paid by our commercial power companies (like APS).
Clean energy is both good for the environment, and good for our economy.
HB2498 increases renewable energy capacity with a $5 million appropriation to the Commerce Authority to create a grant program to spur research and development of improved battery storage. The idea for this bill was suggested to me by a constituent, Craig Weiss, who is an entrepreneur.
He pointed out that with 300 days of sun here in Arizona, the real limit on our ability to harness solar energy is battery storage. This bill would create what Craig referred to as an X Prize for solar battery storage and help position Arizona as the leading state in the country for battery storage companies to thrive and grow.
Ultimately, clean energy solutions save consumers money. A recent study by CERES showed energy saving efforts implemented by the state’s three largest utilities from 2008-16 have created nearly $3 billion in net economic benefits, saving families and businesses money on their energy bills. To that end, supporting clean energy initiatives is a rare triple win — helping the environment, helping our economy, and helping consumers.
Editor’s Note: Aaron Lieberman is a resident of Paradise Valley and state representative for Legislative District 28.