by January Contreras
On Earth Day, millions of Americans of all ages celebrate clean air, land, and water. In Arizona, we have a rich legacy to treasure on Earth Day. We used to be the state people moved to when they had asthma because our air was so clean. We’re still home to the Grand Canyon, mighty and peaceful rivers and streams, and enough beauty to outlast a lifetime subscription to Arizona Highways.
Earth Day has taken on a new meaning for me this year, as I run to become Arizona’s next Attorney General. The Arizona Attorney General’s office is the largest legal office in our state, and holds critical responsibilities for enforcing environmental laws. Yet lately, the environmental litigation that is most often boasted about by our current Attorney General involves lawsuits to stop, slow, or eliminate laws designed to protect clean air, land, and water.
The current Attorney General, Mark Brnovich, led five states in a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop updated ozone limits put in place to improve air quality. He’s argued for Congress to consider legislation to allow oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He joined four other states and mining lobbyists in litigation to allow new uranium mining operations on land surrounding the Grand Canyon. And most recently, he’s come to the legal defense of Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest publicly-traded oil and gas company. In response to Exxon Mobil’s argument that they should not be investigated for their knowledge or role related to climate change, a federal judge found their legal claims unsupported and noted the case resulted in a “huge waste of Attorney Generals’ time and money.” Our taxpayer dollars should be put to better uses like protecting kids, seniors, and consumers.
When the Attorney General is just another politician, the interests of the state are not put first. In times like these, political agendas, ambitions to move up the political ladder, and, yes, donors and dark money take control.
When I become Arizona’s Attorney General, I commit to you that I will be a responsible and independent steward of the power of the office, and I will be a guardian for the interests of Arizonans, including our air, land, and water. There may be times when we have to educate the federal government about our unique landscape because no one knows Arizona likes Arizonans, but I will certainly reject the knee-jerk “profits before planet” approach of today. On a future Earth Day, I look forward to writing a similar letter filled with actions we’ve taken to protect our planet, rather than the ones currently taking place to destroy it.
January Contreras is the Arizona List endorsed candidate for Attorney General.