Count the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry in as co-celebrator of Sen. Jeff Flake’s Earth, Wind and Fire Week. The senator has given this week that moniker as a way of recognizing the unique challenges Arizona – especially rural Arizona – faces due to federal regulatory overreach in the environmental space
Over the course of this week, Sen. Flake will be introducing a total of seven bills relating to land management policy, air quality, and forest health. He’s kicking things off with the “wind” bills, three relating to air quality, which the Arizona Chamber is supporting.
First, there is the Agency PAYGO for Greenhouse Gases Act, which ensures that the EPA provides an offset from its own budget before imposing the costs of greenhouse gas rules on other federal agencies and federal power-generating agencies. This is a smart bill. It prevents an increase in costs from being shifted onto Arizona ratepayers.
Second, the Commonsense Legislative Exceptional Events Reform (CLEER) Act. The CLEER Act streamlines EPA regulations, looking out for states and localities in making sure they are not in violation of federal air-quality standards due to naturally occurring events. We see these kinds of events often in Arizona, such as our dust storms and wildfires. We can control a lot, but we can’t control the weather. We shouldn’t be penalized as a result.
Last in the “wind” category is the Ozone Regulatory Delay and Extension of Assessment Length (ORDEAL) Act. Sen. Flake introduced this bill to establish a more certain regulatory environment for state air-quality agencies and businesses by revising the air quality standard review timelines.
I had a chance to personally weigh in on ozone regulations last year in testimony before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The ozone level standards proposed by the Obama administration were so onerous that I called them an “environmental impossibility.”
Kudos to Sen. Flake for seeking to protect job creators and ratepayers from burdensome and unrealistic EPA regulations, while protecting Arizona’s resources and unique rural character. He’s made regulatory certainty a cornerstone of his time in the Senate. It’s been time well spent.