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Sierra Club issues annual environmental report card for Arizona Legislature

The Arizona Legislature wrapped up its longest session on record last month, and conservationists say in spite of the extra time, lawmakers did little to address the state’s environmental problems.

The Sierra Club issued its annual environmental report card for the 2023 session, handing out failing grades to most of the Republican caucus for its a lack of effort to address climate change, environmental justice or water issues.

The lawmakers also received poor marks for bills that discourage clean energy and public transportation.

Sierra Club spokeswoman Sandy Bahr says those measures were vetoed by Gov. Katie Hobbs, who received an A.

"They are out of step with Arizonans," Bahr said. "Arizonans by and large understand that climate change is real, that it’s affecting us, and they want leaders to help do something," she said.

The GOP also earned poor marks for bills that would make it more difficult to vote.

"The Legislature refused to even consider the major environmental issues facing our state. There’s no action on climate, or climate resiliency, no action on environmental justice, no real actions to address groundwater pumping or protect our rivers and streams," Bahr said. 

Vania Guevara, a spokeswoman for conservation group Chispa Arizona, joined Bahr at a press conference announcing the grades. She said the use of the term environmental justice was frowned upon by some in the Legislature. 

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Ron Dungan was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2024.