Gary Kiehne Speaks at Americans for Prosperity Event in Rural Arizona

October 3, 2015…Today, Gary Kiehne, the Republican and conservative, grassroots candidate for Congress in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District, is a featured speaker at the Americans for Prosperity “Help Stop the Clean Power Plan” Rally in Joseph City, AZ.

Kiehne, a cattleman and successful small business owner, released the following comments in advance of the AFP rally:

“Here in rural Arizona and across this state and nation, we continue to suffer as a result of the continuous overreach from the EPA.  The latest regulations released in the Clean Power Plan in August take things one step further by increasing the emissions regulations.  These expectations serve up three punches in a row to our state.  First, killing hundreds of jobs across Arizona’s rural 1st Congressional District, home to several coal fired plants.  Second, taking a sledgehammer to the natural resource that produces nearly 40% of our electricity in the state.  And third, these new regulations are going to hit Arizonans where it hurts the most, in our wallets.

With no plans at the ready to replace the jobs we’ll lose, the electricity we’ll miss and increase economic growth to help our citizens afford higher energy costs, we’ve got to stand up and fight back against this overreaching EPA.  As a small business owner in oil and gas exploration and production, ranching and the hotel industry, I know how hard it is to comply with the messy red tape regulations stemming from the federal government, and I’ve had enough.  That’s why I’m running for Congress, to rein in the continued overreach coming out of Washington, DC and return decision making to Arizonans and our local communities.”

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Reps Franks, Schweikert, Salmon, McSally Vote to Fund Obama’s Executive Amnesty

gop_surrender_monkey_1_400_pxlw The House has voted 257-167 to pass what the Leftist media is calling a ‘Clean’ DHS Funding Bill which fully funds Obama’s unconstitutional Executive Amnesty.   While the majority of the 257 Congressmen and women who passed the bill were Democrats, this falls on the feet of all those who voted to retain John Boehner as the Speaker of the House.

It was only a few months ago that hundreds of thousands of Americans jammed the US Capitol’s switchboard demanding a change in house leadership due to Boehner’s unwillingness to stop Obama’s move toward ‘fundamental transformation’. These calls and emails were ignored by establishment Republicans namely Rep Trent Franks, Rep Schweikert, Rep Matt Salmon, and Rep Martha McSally who chose Boehner’s PAC money over the American tax-payers.  For several years now these same politicians have told us at LD meetings or Tea Party rallies that ‘DC is broken’ and they need our support.  Well, to borrow a phrase from Pottery Barn, ‘you broke it, you bought it’.

By keeping the current leadership in place these Republicans are just as responsible for the passage of today’s Amnesty funding bill just as much those who actively lobbied for it. We’ll say it again for clarity; Mr Franks, Mr Schweikert, Mr Salmon, Mrs McSally, You. Own. This. Crap. Sandwich.

How do we make the claim these four voted for Obama’s Amnesty?  To know this, you must learn one of the procedural games the GOP Leadership play all too often:


The House Leadership forwards whatever the Chamber of Commerce wants while simultaneously trying to pacify the base.  That’s where things like the pointless ACU ‘scores’ come in to play.  Let’s take today’s vote for example:

  • STAGE 1 – THE DISTRACTION: Boehner decides in mid Feb that this bill should be postponed until today during the fog of Netanyahu’s speech in order to mitigate the number of grassroots phone-calls to DC offices.  They are betting that we’d be too distracted fighting the Anti-Semites on the Left today.
  • STAGE 2 – THE BROKEN PROMISE: Knowing that he could not get the support of a majority of Republicans, he strikes a deal with Pelosi for a Clean Bill in violation of his Hastert Rule promise.
  • STAGE 3 – QUID PRO QUO: After a backroom deal is struck with the Dems, Boehner creates a strategy with Pelosi to use ‘regular order’ to ensure the bill gets passed in spite of the results of the 2014 elections.
  • STAGE 4 – WHIPPING UP SUPPORT: Pelosi then dispatches House Dem Whips to do a head count to ensure Boehner gets the votes to pass Obama’s Amnesty without GOP support.  Pelosi tells Boehner they have votes needed plus a little extra for padding
  • STAGE 5 - THE SHOW VOTE: GOP Leadership calls a closed-door conference to give border hawks the green light on voting ‘NO’ knowing it will pass anyway.  This way the Leadership/Chamber gets what they want and the faux-Conservatives keep their bona fides among the grassroots come election time.
  • STAGE 6 – RIGGING THE NUMBERS: The ‘Border Hawks’ vote NO knowing they can do so without jeopardizing Boehner’s plan.  It’s little more than a show vote done so representatives can be graded on a single vote as ‘SOLID’ and be able to tout their valued ACU/Club For Growth, FreedomWorks/Whatever org scores in campaign ads while screwing the American tax-payer under the radar. We now know that it is far worse to support a Speaker who does this than a faux-NO vote on a bill that has been predetermined by the donor class to pass.
  • STAGE 7 – THE BAIT & SWITCH: Come election time, they tell us that they voted AGAINST Amnesty and that we NEED them to stay in DC to ‘fight for us’, with the truth being that nothing will change while they remain in DC.  This is precisely how someone like John McCain can serve (themselves) in office for decades as things get worse.

The well-fed right will state “THIS HEADLINE IS DISHONEST! Schweikert, Franks, et al actually voted against this bill, blah.. blah.. blah…” but in reality, now that we know similar parliamentary tricks were practiced with regularity under Speaker Boehner before his reelection in January and since these representatives voted to retain GOP leadership, it’s reasonable to conclude those who backed Boehner for Speaker approve of these tactics and the results. Therefore, we at ArizonaInformer will now score EVERY unpopular bill that Speaker Boehner passes from the floor and will publicize them as a YES vote for the Representatives mentioned above.

Arizona Small Businesses “Thrilled, Inspired” by Governor Ducey’s Regulatory Proposals

NFIBforwebPHOENIX, Ariz., January 12, 2015 — The following is a statement from Farrell Quinlan, Arizona state director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), reacting to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s first State of the State Address:

“Arizona small business owners are thrilled and inspired by Governor Doug Ducey’s bold initiative to make Arizona the best place in America to work and do business.

“Governor Ducey’s new regulatory moratorium and top-to-bottom review of regulations throughout state government are exactly what an all-too-often beleaguered small business community has been counting on him to pursue and deliver.

“In his State of the State Address today, Governor Ducey again demonstrated that he grasps how burdensome and job-killing over-regulation can be for small business’ ability to survive, let alone grow and prosper. Adding a small business owner to his Regulatory Review Council will help ensure his commitment to reducing timeframes for permits and licenses are accomplished.

“Small business owners work very hard to comply with the mountain of regulations federal, state and local jurisdictions impose on them. It’s spectacular to hear Governor Ducey commit to eliminating bureaucratic entanglements that are outdated, irrational, unfair or destructive to free and honest enterprise in Arizona.

“NFIB is making regulatory reform and government efficiency our top 2015 legislative priority including Governor Ducey’s initiatives outlined in his State of the State, a law ensuring small business owners are made aware of their due process rights during the regulatory process as well as reforming the ‘corporate culture’ within the state bureaucracy from one that metes out harsh penalties to one that assists our small business job creators with regulatory compliance.”

# # #

For more than 70 years, the National Federation of Independent Business has been the Voice of Small Business, taking the message from Main Street to the halls of Congress and all 50 state legislatures. NFIB annually surveys its members on state and federal issues vital to their survival as America’s economic engine and biggest creator of jobs. NFIB’s educational mission is to remind policymakers that small businesses are not smaller versions of bigger businesses; they have very different challenges and priorities.

Phoenix Earns High Marks From NFIB

City judged one of five best in nation for welcoming small business

In an e-newsletter to its more than 330,000 members nationwide today, including 7,000 in Arizona, the National Federation of Independent Business, America’s voice of small business, ranked Phoenix as one of the top five cities in the country “Opening Their Doors to Small Business.”

“Phoenix’s rebounding economy, favorable climate and entrepreneurial culture attracts many transplanted residents,” said the NFIB article. “Two years ago, the Phoenix City Council implemented reforms that shifted a significant portion of city permitting and inspection functions to the private sector and created 24-hour turnarounds for projects such as city and building permits that used to take four to six months. With quicker turnarounds, doing business in Phoenix has become faster and more convenient.”

Noted Farrell Quinlan, NFIB’s Arizona state director, “The majority of people starting small businesses and prospering here were born somewhere else. That kind of new blood and vitality means opportunities in Phoenix aren’t encumbered by an old-boys network.”

In a news release issued by Mayor Greg Stanton, he said, “This ranking is a testament to the actions we’re taking to lift small and local businesses. We’re moving in a new economic direction – one that creates real opportunity for business owners and entrepreneurs.”

sal diciccio council chambers

Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio

City Councilman Sal DiCiccio added, “This puts Phoenix in a position to compete in the global economy, making us faster, smarter and better than our competitor cities. Getting 24-hour permitting and the ability to submit plans online allows businesses to open today, not months from now. The Mayor and Council recognized that it grows our economy faster when we help businesses take off quickly.”

DiCiccio, a longtime NFIB member, led the 125-member Ad Hoc Development Task Force that produced the reform recommendations for how to streamline the city’s permit process.

Phoenix has also been helped by a better state climate, Quinlan pointed out. “The state has been a leader in low tax rates and regulatory reform. For instance, Arizona simplifies the process state agencies must follow when creating rules and regulations they impose on Arizona businesses. That leadership ensures government serves as a facilitator of economic dynamism rather than a frustrator of job creation.”

Other cities making the top five list were Caspar, Wyoming; Jackson, Mississippi; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Orlando, Florida.

For more than 70 years, the National Federation of Independent Business has been the Voice of Small Business, taking the message from Main Street to the halls of Congress and all 50 state legislatures. NFIB annually surveys its members on state and federal issues vital to their survival as America’s economic engine and biggest creator of jobs. NFIB’s educational mission is to remind policymakers that small businesses are not smaller versions of bigger businesses; they have very different challenges and priorities.

NFIB Arizona weighs in on latest economic report

Congress can help where Arizona fell down

PHOENIX, Ariz., June 10, 2014Today’s release of one of the nation’s most trusted economic surveys casts in sharp relief how pervasive our political leaders’ inattention to small-business job creation is, according to the Arizona state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, America’s voice of small business.

As it does very month, NFIB releases its Index of Small Business Optimism, which measures the pulse of the nation’s largest employer group—Main Street entrepreneurs. Although the index rose to its highest level since 2007, the underpinnings of a strong economy are still not seismically sound.

“What stood out for me in the latest optimism index was Arizona’s missed opportunity to spur capital spending and new job creation by our own small businesses when Governor Brewer vetoed House Bill 2664 earlier this year,” said Farrell Quinlan, Arizona state director for NFIB. The bill, which passed the Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan majorities, would have created an immediate state income tax allowance for qualifying business equipment investments valued up to $500,000, similar to federal Section 179 expensing.

Indeed, in summarizing the latest optimism index, economist William Dunkelberg, its author, noted, “May’s numbers bring the Index to its highest level since September 2007. However, the four components most closely related to GDP and employment growth (job openings, job creation plans, inventory and capital spending plans) collectively fell 1 point in May.”

“Shifting capital spending into a higher gear is essential to a full and sustainable economic recovery,” said Quinlan. “Now, even though Arizona’s capital expensing vehicle stalled, Congress can turn on the ignition of job creation by passing H.R. 4457, the Small Business Tax Relief Act, when it comes up for a full House vote Thursday.

H.R. 4457 would allow small businesses to immediately deduct on their federal taxes the full value of equipment in the same year the investment is made, instead of depreciating the investment over time. This simplifies accounting and frees up cash to be reinvested and grow the business.

“The job-creation user’s manual is pretty straightforward and easy to follow,” said Quinlan. “If business owners have an incentive to invest in more equipment, they will need to hire more employees to meet the increased sales that equipment will generate. But I worry H.R. 4457 may face a similar grim fate in Congress as House Bill 2664 suffered in Arizona, despite everyone—Democrats, Republicans, business and labor—favoring it, a tragic misreading of the economy’s weakness will lead to continued inertia and another missed opportunity.”

Despite broad, bipartisan support, small-business federal expensing fell from $500,000 to $25,000 this year because previous extensions were temporary. H.R. 4457 would provide small businesses with expensing levels that are permanent, predictable and at a level adequate to their needs.Click here to read a letter 154 business associations signed and sent to Congress.

NOTE: The NFIB Research Foundation has collected Small Business Economic Trends data with quarterly surveys since 1974 and monthly surveys since 1986. Survey respondents are drawn from NFIB’s membership. The report is released on the second Tuesday of each month. For almost 40 years, NFIB’s Index of Small Business Optimism has been one of the nation’s bellwether economic barometers, used by Federal Reserve, chairmen, congressional leaders and presidential administrations.


For more than 70 years, the National Federation of Independent Business has been the Voice of Small Business, taking the message from Main Street to the halls of Congress and all 50 state legislatures. NFIB annually surveys its members on state and federal issues vital to their survival as America’s economic engine and biggest creator of jobs. NFIB’s educational mission is to remind policymakers that small businesses are not smaller versions of bigger businesses; they have very different challenges and priorities.

Will Kyrsten Sinema Support Obama’s Job Destroying Cap-and-Trade Scheme?


Kyrsten Sinema Will Have to Choose Between Saving Jobs or Backing her Friends in D.C.

WASHINGTON – Is Kyrsten Sinema going to listen to Arizona voters and save American jobs, or will she fall in line with her Democrat allies and support President Obama’s latest cap-and-trade scheme that could cost the U.S. economy $50 billion a year and eliminate an estimated 224,000 jobs?

A recent study, issued by the United States Chamber of Commerce, found that President Obama’s new cap-and-trade edict will force more than a “third of the coal-fired power capacity to close by 2030.”

“Not only will this new Obama regulation cost billions of dollars for taxpayers, but it will limit American energy production and spike electricity prices – hurting families across America,” said NRCC Communications Director Andrea Bozek. “Arizona families deserve a Republican leader in Congress that will stand up to President Obama and his Administration’s job-destroying regulations.”

Will Kyrsten Sinema Support Obama’s Job Destroying Cap-and-Trade Scheme.
(Michael Bastasch, EPA To Unilaterally Push Cap And Trade On Carbon Emissions, The Daily Caller, 5/27/14)

“President Obama’s climate rule change will force more than a “third of the coal-fired power capacity to close by 2030.”
(Mark Drajem, Chamber Study Predicts Obama Climate Rule Will Kill Jobs, Bloomberg, 5/28/14)

Cost nearly $50 billion and eliminate an estimated 224,000 jobs
(Energy Institute Report Finds That Potential New EPA Carbon Regulations Will Damage U.S. Economy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 5/28/14)

It will limit American energy production and spike electricity prices.
(Ralph Vartabedian, U.S. electricity prices may be going up for good, LA Times, 4/25/14)

ELECTRICITY: “U.S. electricity prices may be going up for good. There is a growing fragility in the U.S. electricity system, experts warn, the result of the shutdown of coal-fired plants, reductions in nuclear power, a shift to more expensive renewable energy and natural gas pipeline constraints. … ‘We are now in an era of rising electricity prices,’ said Philip Moeller, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission…” (Los Angeles Times)

HEALTH CARE: “More employees are getting hit with higher health insurance premiums and co-payments, and many don’t have the money to cover unexpected medical expenses, a new report finds. More than half of companies (56%) increased employees’ share of health care premiums or co-payments for doctors’ visits in 2013, and 59% of employers say they intend to do the same in 2014, according to the annual Aflac WorkForces Report.” (USA TODAY)

FOOD: “Rising food prices bite into household budgets. Prices are rising for a range of food staples, from meat and pork to fruits and vegetables, squeezing consumers still struggling with modest wage gains.” (USA TODAY)

FLYING, THE MOVIES, OIL CHANGES, AND MORE: “David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Gluskin Sheff, said other areas beyond food and energy … are getting costlier as well. ‘Airline fares are on the rise,’ he said in his morning note Tuesday. ‘Movie tickets and other such recreational services are on the rise. Repair service fees are on the rise. Shelter costs in general are on the rise. Tuition costs are on the rise. Medical service prices are on the rise.’” (NBC News)

An Arizona Rancher Speaks Out On The BLM Bundy Battle

An open letter to Greta Van Susteran by Gail Tobin

Dear Greta,

Thank you for your coverage of the situation in Clark County, Nevada. As a public lands rancher myself, I know that there is more to the story than appears. First off, the major issue is that of States’ Rights. Originally, the lands of the western Territories, then termed “waste lands” were to revert to the jurisdiction of the various states as they were formed. This was supposed to happen but did not and as a result, today we have enormous, top heavy bureauracies that really have little to do with what is good for the land.True, there are some in the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management that do care for the land. Unfortunately there are many more that are concerned only about continuing and extending the power of their fiefdoms. In the more than thirty years that I have been involved in public lands ranching, I have seen the relationship with the administrators of public lands (in our case the Forest Service) go from a partnership doing what is best for the resource, to a more adversarial situation. I expect that this is what the Bundy family encountered as well. Basically what Cliven Bundy is standing for is his family’s right to continue ranching. Believe me, someone whose family has been on that land for 140 years or so, cares more and knows more of the land than some bureaucrat in Washington or some starry eyed young graduate with a brand new degree in Range Management. What tipped the situation back in the nineties was the straw horse of the endangered desert tortoise To my knowledge, the tortise fare well indeed, they do not compete with cattle for food or resources. This is simply a canard to draw attention away for the real issue, control. The lands controled by the Federal Government in the West are extremely rich in natural resources, including water. Those that control this wealth and power at the federal level will not return this wealth to those to whom it belongs, the people of the various western states.

Another issue is that most people do not realize that in the desert southwest it takes far more acreage to support one cow/calf unit (the basic unit of range management) than it does east of the Rockies. Also, here we are managing for wildlife, range conservation and our cattle. This means that we run cattle in what to most seem to be huge amounts of acreage. Since we do this on public land, most of which would not produce anything but scenery we are paying to help support the resource. Though our basic grazing fee is small we have the added costs of maintaining the infrastructure and providing water (in droughty years like this) to both our cattle and wildlife. Where we might be watering 46 head of mother cows, we might also be watering elk, deer and antelope in the hundreds. With fuel at almost $4.00 per gallon this is no small expense.

It should also be noted that the situation came to a head just recently. Please note that since Harry Reid’s trip to China in 2011 the move is on to build an even larger solar power facility outside Laughlin Nv. .Also, ENN Energy (China) is going to build a solar panel facility in southern Nevada. Total investment is said to be about 5 billion dollars. Coincidentally, the law firm in which Rory Reid is a partner, just happens to be handling the legal work for this company in the United States. As I understand it, the BLM has to take a certain amount of land out of production to mitigate the effects of a large solar panel array as they are not particularly environmentally friendly to the immediate surrounding area (Look up “Solar Regional Mitigating Plan”). It is my guess that Cliven Bundy became a convenient target due to his stand on states rights. (You might also note, Kornze, now director of the BLM is a former senior aide to Senator Reid.)

The Bundy family should be left alone to do what they have done for generations, care for their cattle and the land. I have learned from observation, if you do not take care of the land, it will not take care of you. And for those that think that desert ranching is a rich man’s game, it is not. You often get up tired and go to bed exhausted, you work most days from dawn to dusk and hope that you have enough daylight to get everything done that you need to (horses don’t come with headlights).

Greta, please don’t let this fall off your radar, this is just another twist on the Biodiversity Treaty, “The Wildlands Project” and Agenda 21. This is a situation that I have following since the effort to initiate “Rangeland Reform” back in the early 90’s. If you wish to learn more about the issues (which eventually will affect all Americans) please read “The War on the West” by William T. Pendley of the Mountain States Legal Foundation. If you think that this is over you are wrong. The moment that the federal government thinks that no one is watching, they will be back to finish what they started.

Thank you for your kind attention,

Gail M. Tobin, Elk Springs Ranch
Parks, Arizona

Rep Michelle Ugenti Proposes County Regulatory Reform

Scottsdale, AZ (Dec 16th, 2013) – In an effort to reduce the regulatory burden and reduce costs on Arizona businesses, Rep. Michelle Ugenti, R-Scottsdale, has introduced legislation that will create greater accountability of county government.

House Bill 2013 is loosely modeled after the Arizona Administrative Procedures Act which governs the process state agencies must follow when creating rules and regulations they impose on Arizona businesses.

Ugenti first introduced this legislation in 2012, at the request of many members of Arizona’s business community, to provide them with more certainty and greater input in the development of county regulatory policies.  As a result of that effort, in 2013 Maricopa County in conjunction with various stakeholders made several modifications to its regulatory process resulting in greater transparency, additional stakeholder input and expedited processes.

Last session Ugenti sponsored legislation to apply the model created by Maricopa County to the other 14 counties in Arizona.  Businesses all across the state should benefit from a process that is less complicated, less costly and more predictable.

“I am appreciative that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors recognized the merits of what was being proposed and acted to improve their regulatory process for Arizona’s business.  They recognized the value in working with the regulated community to improve transparency, reduce costs and increase accountability.  This legislation is worth fighting for so that businesses all across the state receive those same benefits,” Ugenti said.

Many in the business community agree with her. The National Federation of Independent Business, a voice for small business, gave Ugenti’s voting record on business issues the highest score possible in 2011 and 2012, the most recent years available.  Others who have supported this legislation include the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, and the Arizona Chapter of Associated General Contractors.

MBQF Launches Public Opinion Survey Service – Electric Deregulation Top Issue for Maiden Release


Public Policy and Public Education Objective of Service

(Scottsdale, AZ) — MBQF Consulting founder and CEO Mike Noble today announced his objective to provide a quarterly service to inform and enlighten Arizonans on the public policy issues being debated in Arizona and around the Nation. Noble, who is not representing or retained by either side of Arizona’s Electric Deregulation debate being considered by the Arizona Corporation Commission, indicated that future topics would concern issues being considered by the Arizona legislature, the Congress of the United States, as well as multiple ballot initiatives.

“Arizona voters are some of the most engaged in the nation,” Noble said. “By helping identify voters public policy attitudes to decision makers and key stakeholders, we are ensuring their concerns are more clearly understood. It helps enhance the quality of discourse in our state and brings more people to the table.”

MBQF surveyed 516 high efficacy Arizona voters between August 5th and 7th, 2013. Voters were given a summary explanation of the deregulation issue, and then asked whether they supported, opposed or were undecided about electric deregulation. Issue explanations were randomized to present the question in a different order to each half of respondents.

Among Arizona high efficacy voters, 32% of respondents say they support deregulation, 41% say they oppose it, and 27% remain undecided. Republicans are split nearly evenly, with 35% supporting deregulation to 38% who oppose it, and 27% still undecided. Just 26% of Democrats support deregulation, while 45% oppose and 28% remain undecided.   Independent voters showed 34% support, 42% oppose and 24% remain undecided.

“A lesson we take from this is that no side in this debate has really gained any huge dominance over the other,” said Noble. “As is so frequently the case, influence rests with the undecided voters, and that puts all the more pressure on the companies and the stakeholders in this debate to develop new and more convincing arguments to reach Arizona citizens.”

For more information about this survey, or a summary of topline data and wording, please contact Mike Noble at the number above. Included in this survey were 516 autodial responses with rotating samples to ensure issue fairness. The Margin of Error for this survey is +/-4.3% at the 95% confidence level.

EPA overreach at Navajo Generating Station yields bad energy policy for Arizona

By Douglas Little, Phoenix Conservative Examiner

In one of the most egregious abuses of it regulatory power, the EPA is forcing the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) located near Page, AZ to make unnecessary and costly modifications to the generation facilities that would have no measurable effect on emissions in the region.

Using the Clean Air Act as its regulatory authority, the EPA claims that emissions from NGS are contributing to haze in the Grand Canyon area and in February of this year, proposed a regional haze restriction that would require NGS expenditures of $1.1 billion on additional emission reduction controls. This claim also ignores the fact that prevailing winds in the region result in plant emissions being blown away from the Grand Canyon, not towards it.

At the same time the EPA issued their ruling, a U.S. Department of Energy study concluded there would be no visibility improvement at the Grand Canyon after the controls were added. Why would the EPA pursue such a expensive and punitive rule when it would have no perceptible effect on haze at the Grand Canyon?

Opponents of the EPA action are reporting that the EPA doesn’t care about haze at all. They say what the EPA really wants is to provide a precedent for shutting down coal-fired electric generating plants. The Obama administration has a stated objective to reduce carbon emissions and last year attempted to implement a “cap and trade” approach to regulating fossil fuels. Republicans in the US Congress voted down the enabling legislation, with some calling it a “war on coal”.

Why is the EPA going after NGS and why is NGS so critical to Arizona?

The Navajo Generating Station was constructed at a cost of $650 million beginning in 1970 and ending in 1976 when the last of the three generating units was completed. The project was sited in its current location based on readily available coal fuel, a reliable source of water for cooling and the proximity of the city of Page which could provide for many of the project’s infrastructure needs, including an available skilled labor pool. The plant is located approximately 100 miles northeast of the Grand Canyon.

The primary purpose of the NGS was to provide power to support the Central Arizona Project (CAP) which is responsible for supplying Arizona’s share of Colorado River water to central and southern Arizona. To get water from the far northwest corner of Arizona to the rest of the state, CAP built a network of pumps, pipelines and and surface canals over 336 miles in length to transport Arizona’s annual allocation of 1.5 million acre-feet of water to Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties. The pumps must raise the water over 3000 feet to allow it to flow into central Arizona. The majority of the power generated by NGS powers the CAP pumps.

NGS has a long history of taking a proactive approach to emissions reduction. In 1999, NGS completed a $420 million retrofit that reduced sulfur dioxide emissions from the plant by 90%. In additional overhauls conducted between 2003 and 2005, electrostatic precipitators were overhauled for reliability and performance gains. In 2007, the Salt River Project, the plant operator, conducted studies on how to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions to reduce haze in the region and voluntarily installed emission reduction equipment on each of their three plants between 2009 and 2011.

Apparently, the best efforts of NGS were not good enough. The EPA rule proposed in February is one of the most stringent regional haze rules in the entire nation. It imposes a standard that is more rigorous that the standards for a brand new coal plant. At the 1600 megawatt Prairie State Energy Campus which first came online in 2012, the permitted level of NO emissions are 0.07 parts per million (ppm) while the standard for NGS, a 37 year old plant, is 0.055 ppm.

In an attempt to find a reasonable middle ground, a working group consisting of the EPA, U.S. Department of the Interior, the Salt River Project, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Gila River Indian Community, the Navajo Nation and the Western Resource Advocates began negotiations to find a “Reasonable Progress Alternative” to the BART rule issued by the EPA in February.

These negotiations were closed-door sessions and while the working group included non-stakeholder environmental activists like the Environmental Defense Fund, they did not solicit or accept input from important stakeholders like the Arizona Corporation Commission, which is the primary regulatory body for energy and water resources in the state. Arizona’s Attorney General was also excluded from legal review and comment on the proposed agreement.

Under the proposed settlement, visibility standards and haze causing nitrogen oxide standards are not even addressed. However, in one section of the proposed agreement, the Department of the Interior makes commitments to reduce or offset carbon dioxide emissions by 3% per year “in furtherance of the President’s 2013 Climate Action Plan”. It further states that “This commitment is intended to accomplish two aims: reduce carbon dioxide emissions and demonstrate the workability of a credit-based system to achieve carbon dioxide emission reductions” (emphasis added).

This action by the Department of the Interior and the EPA essentially unilaterally implements “cap and trade” at NGS even though they do not have Congressional authority to do so.

The working group proposal also calls for the early shutdown of one generation unit in 2020 or the equivalent reduction of output equal to the closure of one unit from 2020 to 2030. There is no consideration in the plan for any increased cost in replacement power or an increase in water rates due to those increased power costs.

While clearly not a great deal for SRP, the Navajo and CAP, why are they supporting it? The original rule issued by the EPA would have imposed the most stringent nitrogen oxide standards in the country and would require retrofits to the generating plants at a cost of over a billion dollars. Had that rule been implemented, the economic viability of the entire plant was in jeopardy. The Arizona stakeholders felt that the EPA was holding the plant hostage under its rule-making authority. They felt that the working group agreement was probably the best deal they could get under the circumstances, enabling them to keep the plant going at least until 2035.

Unfortunately, the working group agreement has some fairly large holes in it. Many of the commitments made by the Department of the Interior may require Congressional action to implement. In the current belt-tightening by the federal government, Congress may not be willing to fund the $100 million in commitments made by the Department of the Interior. Furthermore, the agreement anticipates a dramatic increase in water rates, but make no provision for it. In addition, it does not address the loss of jobs, economic benefit and tribal revenues that will result from the terms of the agreement.

A critical reading of the proposed working group agreement seems to indicate that these regulations are not about reducing regional haze. There is no meaningful reduction of nitrogen oxide in the proposed agreement. Instead, there is a focus on carbon dioxide emission reduction. Carbon dioxide is an odorless, colorless gas and has no impact on visible haze.

In addition, the agreement is an apparent attempt to unilaterally implement a “cap and trade” system for regulating carbon emissions for which the Department of the Interior and the EPA have no statutory or regulatory authority.

Finally, it appears to be a blatant EPA attack on coal-fired generating plants with the full support and encouragement of environmental activists.

Is the EPA doing all of this for a reduction in haze that the federal government’s own study said would be imperceptible to the human eye? More likely, the haze standard simply gives the EPA the opening they need to accomplish their real objectives of shutting another coal plant and promoting Obama’s energy agenda.

EPA overreach? Good energy policy? The right choice for Arizona? You decide.

The public comment period on the proposed agreement will close on October 4th, 2013.

You can go here to comment:!documentDetail;D=EPA-R09-OAR-2013-0009-0111