For local governments—and councils of governments—in Arizona, it appears that creating a climate action plan has become all the rage. Maybe that’s because it pays well.
The latest group to bow down at the altar of the Biden administration’s climate change agenda is the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG). Back in August, MAG received a $1 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Climate Pollution Reduction Grant Program to serve as the lead planning organization for the Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler metro area. The grant requires MAG to develop a priority climate action plan by next March, a comprehensive climate action plan by 2025, and a status report in 2027 after the four-year grant period expires.
But this $1 million grant isn’t the only way MAG stands to benefit…
Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) may oversee up to $4.6 billion in federal funding to implement emissions reduction plans.
The billions cover the second of two phases required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Climate Pollution Reduction Grant (CPRG) Program. That phase concerns implementation grants for greenhouse gas emissions reduction policies, programs, and projects. The preceding phase covers planning grants for the development of regional climate plans.
For phase one, the EPA gave Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) a $1 million CPRG Program grant to serve as the lead planning organization for the Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler metropolitan statistical area. This grant requires MAG to develop a priority climate action plan due next March, comprehensive climate action plan due in 2025, and a status report due in 2027 after the four-year grant period expires.
MAG accepted the $1 million during a meeting on Wednesday, amending their 2024-2025 Biennial Planning Work Program and Budget to do so.
The priority climate action plan is a prerequisite for the $4.6 billion implementation grant. As part of this plan, MAG must issue a benefits analysis for how their plan produces the most significant benefits to low-income and disadvantaged communities, which the Biden administration refers to collectively as “LIDAC.”
The EPA emphasized arranging all three CPRG plans around LIDACs. Tribes and territories won’t be required to include special LIDAC provisions in their plans.
The EPA guidance on LIDACs explained that the equity lens for the CPRG funding constitutes a greater pledge by the Biden administration per the Justice40 Initiative to issue 40 percent of federal investments to those marginalized, underserved, or overburdened by pollution.
LIDACs are determined by federally defined burdens concerning climate change, energy, health, housing, legacy pollution, transportation, water and wastewater, workforce development, low median income, and poverty. The agency recommended the use of the Biden administration’s Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST).
The billions for energy and climate initiatives may address something advocated for greatly by Democratic leaders like Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-03): extreme heat and urban heat island effects. The EPA cited both on page 8 of their LIDAC guidance.
Public comment during Wednesday’s meeting largely represented opposition to the federal funding to implement net zero goals. Members of the public warned that such climate agendas would result in energy poverty tantamount to shortages and scarcity experienced in third-world countries.
Last year, China permitted coal burning plants at the rate of two new plants every week. High costs with lower supply, as seen in Germany, which resulted in an energy crisis last winter that plummeted the population into the freezing winter temps.
Members of the public also expressed concerns over the financial impact on taxpayers, citing woes faced by the taxpayers of neighboring California. Despite all public comments expressing opposition during the meeting, MAG approved the EPA funding as one part of its consent agenda.
The EPA received $5 billion for the CPRG Program through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA): $250 million for noncompetitive planning grants, and $4.6 billion for competitive implementation grants.
The White House issued a comprehensive, searchable guidebook on the IRA funding for “clean” energy and climate change initiatives. IRA funding to reorient the economy for “clean” energy totals around $369 billion.
Of the planning grants, states received $156 million, local governments received $67 million, tribes received $25 million, and territories received $2 million.
Days after an AZ Free News report about Arizona’s largest county possibly taking steps toward compliance with extremely onerous environmental measures from the federal government, Republicans in the State Legislature announced their own move to counter these – and other – actions.
On Friday, the Arizona Senate and House Leadership teams announced the launch of “a study committee to examine recent local efforts attempting compliance with air quality standards set forth by the federal government.”
The committee, entitled the Joint Legislative Ad Hoc Committee on Air Quality and Energy, will meet to “gather information from experts and the public about local recommendations on rulemaking determinations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on ozone nonattainment.” Per the press release from the Legislature, the committee “will hear testimony and consider evidence on every angle, from sources of ozone and efforts to mitigate such sources, to the impacts of these mandates on Arizona families, workers, industries, consumer products and the economy, as well as the practicality of achieving recommended proposals and a variety of other issues deemed relevant to the investigation.”
Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma will each appoint five members to the committee. Two members have already been selected as the committee’s co-chairs: Senator Sine Kerr and Representative Gail Griffin, who are also chairs of the Senate and House Committees on Natural Resources, Energy and Water.
The two co-chairs of the committee issued comments in conjunction with Friday’s announcement. Senator Kerr stated: “While we strive to be proactive in protecting our environment, we certainly won’t blindly implement air quality policy dictated by the federal government without thorough investigation. We want to make sure the EPA’s requirements are realistic and won’t cause hardships for our residents, for our economy, or infringe on freedoms, as with what has so far transpired in California.”
And Representative Griffin said, “Arizona has natural occurrences of ozone such as from native vegetation and wildfires that we have absolutely no control over. We also receive significant ozone transports from Mexico and other states that need to be accounted for in federal models. We all want clean air, and I am looking forward to working with everyone on solutions.”
As AZ Free News reported on April 6, The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) recently contracted with a California-based consulting firm to “identify and evaluate new and available ozone precursor control measures that could be implemented within the nonattainment area” – which is an “eight-hour ozone boundary for the 2015 ozone standard (2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standard),” following a little-discussed published rule from the EPA in fall 2022, which moved “the region up the severity ladder for ozone pollution, reclassifying the region from ‘marginal’ to ‘moderate’ nonattainment for the ozone pollution standard.”
The consultant’s Final Report this spring suggested “approximately 50% reduction in nonattainment area anthropogenic NOx and VOC emissions” in order to bring the region into compliance with the EPA’s standard by an August 3, 2024, deadline.
To meet this deadline, suggested measures were included to reduce ozone in the Maricopa Nonattainment Area to meet Clean Air Act requirements related to the 2015 ozone standard. Some of the suggested measures include adopting standards similar to California like banning the internal combustion engine, banning gas appliances, and a host of regulations on various business activities.
There is a tight turnaround for approval of these drastic measures to cut emissions in Maricopa County. Before the end of April, the “MAG Regional Council may approve the Draft Suggested List of Measures” after receiving recommendations from the MAG Management Committee. Then, over this summer, “implementing entities provide commitments to implement measures, or reasoned justification for non-implementation, to MAG for inclusion in a nonattainment area state implementation plan submission to EPA.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.
If you enjoy losing your freedom for a goal that is impossible to achieve, the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) has you covered.
MAG recently released its proposed measures to bring Maricopa County into compliance with ozone standards set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and it’s a total disaster. Along with a whole host of regulations on various business activities, the proposed restrictions include banning the internal combustion engine and gas appliances. That’s right, just like in California, they are coming for your cars and your gas stoves. But that’s not all. This proposal would also put limits on things like lawn and garden equipment, motorized boating, and water heaters…
The Biden administration and radical environmentalists will do anything they can to enforce their climate change agenda on the American people. And now, they are using ozone control measures to do just that right here in the state of Arizona.
On September 16, 2022, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reclassified Maricopa County as a moderate nonattainment area of ozone limits under the Clean Air Act. This basically means that, according to the EPA, Maricopa County’s ozone levels are too high and therefore our state—including its individual citizens, motorists, and businesses—will be forced to adopt ozone control measures.
So, what exactly caused Arizona’s rise in ozone levels? Was it more cars on the road? A dramatic increase in air travel to our state? Too many cows releasing methane into the air?