Energy

Study: Arizona ‘Clean Energy’ Initiative Won’t Even Help The Environment 

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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An independent study found that a clean energy proposal in Arizona would make no discernible difference in air quality or public health, repudiating billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who has spent hundreds of thousands backing the campaign.

A major campaign is underway with Arizona’s energy portfolio hanging in the balance. Through his environmental advocacy group NextGen Climate Action, Steyer has completely funded an initiative that seeks to greatly increase the state’s reliance on renewable energy. Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona — a campaign that has received $957,000 in funding from NextGen — is collecting signatures in order amend Arizona’s constitution and mandate that utilities obtain 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, by 2030.

Such a sweeping new mandate would upend Arizona’s energy sector, where the current mandate is 15 percent by 2025.

The proposal notably excludes nuclear energy, despite it being a major source of emissions-free electricity. If the Steyer-backed campaign is successful and voters approve the measure, the mandate would render the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station uneconomical, forcing the largest nuclear plant in the U.S. to close its doors years before its scheduled retirement date.

A study by NERA Economic Consulting, however, found that the would-be law “cannot be expected to improve reported levels of ozone pollution in areas where most Arizonans live.” The initiative would also have “no measurable impact on asthma rates.” These finding are largely due to the halt of nuclear-generated electricity and its replacement with natural gas — a likely event if the amendment is successful.

“The ‘Clean Energy’ initiative is a fraud,” Matthew Benson said in a Monday statement provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation. Benson is the spokesman for Arizonans for Affordable Electricity, a group that opposes Steyer’s efforts. “The initiative campaign is spending millions of dollars to fool Arizona voters into believing California-style energy regulations will clear our air and improve public health. This new analysis finds the proposal will do neither.”

The study found that the vast majority of ozone pollution in Arizona’s biggest counties originate, not from fossil fuel plants, but from car emissions, dust from land and construction, and natural sources like wildfire. The initiative proposed by Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona would not greatly address these issues. (RELATED: Tom Steyer Caught Using MORE Felons For Renewable Energy Campaign)

“These are damning findings for an initiative campaign built on promises of clean air and better public health,” Benson continued. “Beware the fast talk and too-good-to-be-true claims of an initiative based on lies. Like any huckster, California billionaire Tom Steyer and his out-of-state strategists will be long gone after the election when Arizona voters realize he sold them an expensive bill of goods.”

If passed, the proposal is estimated to double the rate of electricity costs for the average Arizona Public Service customer.

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