Governor Doug Ducey claims to be creating water policy that will work for Arizona long-term. But the truth is that he’s failed to acknowledge or plan for the effects of climate change — which will devastate the state’s water supply.
- Ducey has shown little to no willingness to deal with the reality of climate change. In 2015, Ducey said he was skeptical about the existence of man-made climate change. Although he has, since then, admitted that human activity is “contributing” to climate change, he has taken few steps to address the state’s carbon emissions, and supported President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accords. Scientists say that climate change will increase demand for water in Arizona while dramatically constricting supply. Flow in the Colorado River, for instance, could decline by as much as 50% by 2100, while rainfall in the monsoon season could drop by 30 to 40%. [AZ Family, 3/28/17; AZ Family, 6/1/17; EPA data; Arizona Republic, 2/22/17; Tucson Star, 10/14/17]
Ducey claims to be bringing together all of Arizona’s stakeholders. But the truth is that policy is being made behind closed doors, without input from the environmental community, lawmakers, and others who deserve a seat at the table.
- The negotiations being conducted by Ducey have taken place behind closed doors, with key stakeholders like lawmakers, the environmental community and representatives from Southern Arizona being largely shut out of the process. The result? Mining and agricultural industries may get an outsize voice, with short shrift being given to crucial conversations about what role should be played in the state’s economy by water-intensive industries like housing and thirsty crops like cotton and alfalfa. [AZ Capitol Times, 9/8/17; Tucson Sentinel, 11/1/17]
- One major issue has been the role of the Central Arizona Project. Ducey is trying to subject CAP to greater oversight from the state’s executive agencies, who are led by people that he appoints. Given that CAP has an elected, nonpartisan governing board, some observers have worried that the move could inject politics in water negotiations that have always been nonpartisan in the past. [AZ Capitol Times, 9/8/17]
Speaking of water…
- It’s worth remembering that Ducey’s administration remains tied to disgraced lobbyist Jim Norton, who has been a friend of Ducey’s since college and will face trial on bribery charges later this year. Allegedly, Norton worked with utility owner George Johnson to bribe an Arizona Corporation Commissioner; in return, Johnson was allowed to raise water rates in Pinal County, despite Johnson’s history of delivering unsafe water to customers. Ducey (and many other politicians across the state) still have not returned the thousands in campaign contributions they’ve received from Norton and Johnson. [AZ Capitol Times, 5/25/17; AZ Central, 5/2/17; campaign finance data]