Environmental Official Asks Lawmakers to Rescind Greenhouse Gas Regulation Block

Jun 11, 2014

The state’s top environmental official asked lawmakers Monday to remove a restriction they placed on his agency just four years ago blocking it from regulating greenhouse gases. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

Henry Darwin, director of the state Department of Environmental Quality, details for lawmakers Tuesday why they should remove a 2010 restriction that bars his agency from coming up with plans to reduce greenhouse gases.
Credit Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer

A new rule from the Environmental Protection Agency requires Arizona to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 52 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. But, Henry Darwin, director of the state Department of Environmental Quality, said a 2010 law specifically bars his agency from adopting any regulations of greenhouse gases. He said lawmakers need to rescind those restrictions.

“Because if we don’t implement a rule, we don’t adopt a rule, we don’t submit a plan to EPA, EPA will be left with no other choice and have the express authority to develop a plan for Arizona without stakeholder input. And none of us want that,” Darwin said.

Darwin told members of the House Committee on Energy, Environment and Natural Resources his agency is weighing a legal challenge to the EPA action.

“But, fact of the matter is — and I’ll be honest — that states and industry have not been very successful as of late in challenging EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases. So I don’t hold a lot of hope to a challenge to EPA’s proposed rule,” he said.

The 2010 law was enacted to overturn prior rules pushed through by then-governor Janet Napolitano to require that new cars and trucks sold in Arizona be more fuel efficient. Darwin said Napolitano is long gone and the restrictions on his agency are no longer appropriate.