The closure of Palo Verde nuclear power plant would represent an environmental injustice because it will be replaced with mostly fossil fuel-generated electricity, which will increase smog that will increase negative health effects in minority and low-income communities. Environmental Hope and Justice (EHJ) believes the passage of a state initiative to support traditional renewable energy sources would not only lead to the closure of the Palo Verde nuclear power plant, but would also cause a state constitutional crisis. Such a state initiative would directly conflict with the State Implementation Plan (SIP).
The Renewable Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment could appear on the ballot in Arizona as an initiated constitutional amendment on November 6, 2018 if proponents can get 225,963 valid signatures by July 5, 2018. The measure would require electric utilities that sell electricity in Arizona to acquire 50 percent of electricity from renewable resources in 2030 and each year thereafter.
Within the Maricopa nonattainment area, the National Ambient Air Quality Standard has not yet been attained for the 2008 eight-hour ozone standard of 0.075 parts per million (ppm). The 2015 eight-hour ozone standard is 0.070 ppm. The area is classified as a Moderate Area under the Clean Air Act. If the Arizona Renewable Energy Standards Initiative passes, it will trigger a constitutional crisis. It will pit the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), and the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) against each other. A state initiative that closes what is a significant ozone control measure (operation of emission-free Palo Verde) would usurp the power of the state agencies in charge of regulating the Clean Air Act at the state level with a measure that runs directly counter to its mission.
MAG has not included the environmental justice consequences of closing Palo Verde due to the passage of the ARESI. Considering the constitutional crisis the passage of ARESI would cause and considering the fact that environmental justice related to Palo Verde closure have not been included in the SIP, the Arizona State Attorney General or the Arizona Secretary of State should remove the initiative from the ballot until these matters have been resolved.
Potential Impacts on Phoenix Area Ozone Air Quality from a Proposed Renewable Energy Ballot Initiative - - by NERA Economic Consulting