Monday, March 26, 2012

Update to SB1507 - Kill Bill - Not the Movie

Today Jeff Frost and I went to the AZ State Capitol to attend the House Rules Committee meeting to see what would happen with SB1507 which had scuttled under the radar until now.  You can read my previous post on it HERE and sign the online petition I created to stop this bill HERE.

This shall serve as an educational piece to get everyone brought up to speed on what the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development is, as well as to give you a list of some of the numerous reasons as to why this bill needs to be KILLED - and never brought back to life.  Because Uma Thurman isn't here to kick anyone's ass for us...

In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development met in Rio de Janeiro.  Not only did they reaffirm the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment which had been adopted at Stockholm in 1972; their mission was to build upon it "with the goal of establishing a new and equitable global partnership through the creation of new levels of cooperation among States, key sectors of societies and people" - "working towards international agreements which respect the interests of all and protect the integrity of the global environmental and developmental system" - and  "recognizing the integral and interdependent nature of the Earth, our home."

Twenty-seven principles were adopted into the Rio Declaration.  The principles have to do with everything that is good and just - to protect people, planet and profit.  Please read them for yourselves HERE.

Last year, the tea partiers started spinning propaganda about how the green/sustainable movement was just a big conspiracy for a socialist society takeover to distribute wealth to the poor, take away the "American Dream" and that the Rio Declaration (known as Agenda 21) was the evil step-mother and wicked witch rolled into one.  It started gaining some momentum and press, like THIS article.  My favorite thing to read was that -
"Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes accused his Democratic opponent of using a bike-sharing program to convert Denver into a "United Nations Community."
But we don't have an obesity problem in America, do we?  Everyone knows that only hippies and 10 year old's ride bikes, right???  All of the money that Minneapolis has spent on bike safety and walkability was probably just a waste of cash - even though they've been rated the most bike-friendly city two years in a row.  (Yep - a place that sees negative double digits is a million times more bike-friendly than us.  Sad but true.)

Forget that the majority of these extreme political zealots are usually very keen on inserting their ideology into places like my womb, but when I read the Rio Declaration it seems to answer the questions of "What would Jesus do"?  I'm so confused...  I wish the extreme right would just make up their minds already.

So what are some of the things that could happen if this bill is allowed to pass?  Well we'll get into that, but not before I remind you that because this bill was snuck in with a strike-all amendment, it has been like a slithering serpent passing through both House and Senate Committees and met with approval by some people who appear to not know any better.  There is no time for public commentary or conversations with sustainability experts.  That time has passed.  Many of the "ayes" in the group appear to be a band of sheep-like zombies, voting their party line without asking any questions, without thinking about the ramifications, and certainly without asking the question that may resonate with them the most - "What would Jesus do"?

So off the top of my head, as a person who has been passionate about this topic for a very long time, this is my list of what we stand to lose if we don't pull together and KILL this BILL:

  • Jobs - The green and sustainable job market is one of the only consistently growing markets in this State.  Speaking of which, any and all Federal funding for green job training would be history.  We also have green sects throughout our government at both City and State levels.  What would happen to those jobs?
  • Business/Industry - Nearly every large corporation and industry (and many small businesses) have  Sustainability Plans.  This is now a way of life - as well it should be because it's smart.  Sustainability Plans are meant to save companies money by using less energy, increasing productivity, lessening environmental impacts, and a myriad of other things that again, are good for People, Planet + Profit.  People from Intel have already signed my petition.  Would other companies like Intel want to set up shop in a State that was opposed to the Rio Declaration in this day and age?  The answer is an emphatic NO.
  • Health - Green building programs and policies improve the health of our people - thus saving millions of dollars in healthcare costs.  As someone who has worked as an indoor air/environmental quality consultant for 10 years, I would be happy to point anyone to hundreds of peer-reviewed and published studies with regard to the health benefits associated with green building, as well as less absenteeism and improved test scores in green-built schools.
  • Economy - Our economy is still down and many people are still un or under-employed.  Energy programs such as Energize Phoenix (which was possible through a Federal energy grant) and serves to help people lower their utility costs (which is a huge burden in our State especially during summer months) by offering extremely low out of pocket costs to upgrade HVAC systems, add insulation, make sure ducts are sealed and offer shade screens would simply go away.  Some of our State Legislators apparently think it's a horrible idea to take Federal grant money to help our citizens save money in these difficult economic times.  Go figure.
  • ASU - A core part of our urban core is ASU.  A core part of ASU is the School of Sustainability.  Need I say more?
  • Social Equality/Environmental Justice - Sustainability only works if it reaches across all socio-economic levels.  Into every neighborhood and touching every group of people in our ethnically diverse state.  Gone would be funding for TOD (transit oriented development) various HUD programs, and I can bet that Habitat for Humanity probably wouldn't get much love either.  Basically, the working poor and people living at poverty level would be the hardest group hit if this bill were to pass.  They are also the group that stands to benefit the most from these programs, the funding, and the general tenets of the Rio Declaration and everything it stands for.  I hope all of the Legislators keep in mind that they could be one major family illness/catastrophe from homelessness themselves.  And let us not forget the giant toxic plume that lives under a good part of Phoenix and is causing carcinogenic vapor intrusion issues into homes and schools.  We should probably not study that stuff anymore.  Cancer clusters aren't really a big deal, right Legislators?  
  • Common Sense - I can't help but add it to this list, because it's the one thing that seems to have completely missed the boat at our current State Legislature.  Common sense is defined by Merriam-Webster as, "sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts."[1] Thus, "common sense" (in this view) equates to the knowledge and experience which most people already have, or which the person using the term believes that they do or should have. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as, "the basic level of practical knowledge and judgment that we all need to help us live in a reasonable and safe way".[2]  It's obviously time to help get new people elected who understand this seemingly very complicated and difficult concept.  Egads.  Seriously...  Sustainability is about taking care of people and our planet.  How can you argue with that?  How can you be pro-life and hate the environment?  She's our biggest Mother.  (That was my liberal hippie comment for you.)
Stay tuned for updates on the next reading of this bill.  Contact your State Representatives IMMEDIATELY as this bill is a quick moving serpent.  Contact them by email, by phone, through social media channels and in person.  Come down to the Capitol when it's heard.  Your presence is noticed, trust me.  Even when we can't add public comment.  Today we were able to supply the Committee with the Rio Declaration language as Jeff was smart enough to print it out and bring it with us.  It came in handy.

I would like to close with a heartfelt thank you to Chad Campbell (D) and Bob Robson (R) who both took time to ask questions, vote no, and brought up the fact that if this bill is passed, it will undermine programs to help eliminate poverty and all things connected to sustainability or green building programs - including solar and energy research at many of our institutions.  Thank you to the other nay voters as well.  We need you to clone yourselves please.

Now, let's KILL BILL (SB1507)!!!!!!

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