What is a Sustainability Work Group and why are Arizona Legislators setting one up?

For now, the draft purpose statement of the group states that it is to:


“Work with businesses and sustainability organizations to develop a state sustainability plan for Arizona. Air quality, drought, fire, tourism, manufacturing, and transportation-these issues are related to each other. We need plans to both adapt to changes and to mitigate the causes of the problems. By working on adaptation plans, it could help people to see the need for mitigation.”

This new group currently has about 15 interested members. Legislative District 18 Representative Mitzi Epstein Legislative District Ten Representative Kirsten Engel and District Two State Senator Andrea Dalessandro, are the group’s leaders.

Arizona Legislative District 18 State Representative Mitzi Epstein

Representative Epstein explained her motivation for starting this Sustainability Work Group.

“When I drive north on I-10 and the brown cloud is visibly hanging over Camelback Mountain, I want to do something about it. I am lucky to have my parents and my husband’s mother and their friends in my life, even as they celebrate birthdays in their 80s and 90s. After a lifetime of being physically active, our elders often have breathing issues with COPD and such. My son and my friends with asthma must stay indoors on high-ozone days. Our air quality is on a tiny trend of improving in Arizona. I want to build a coalition to turn that sluggish improvement into a juggernaut of clean, fresh air all over our state.”  

They have had three meetings since their start in June, and they intend to meet semi-monthly or monthly.

They will develop their own website and social media outlets where you can learn more and contribute your ideas.

A long-term goal is to develop a bipartisan sustainability plan through open collaboration in the legislative process that can be applied statewide.

Representative Epstein commented that the focus of the group would first center on common-sense strategies. She will sponsor a bill with local Girl Scouts to prevent balloon litter and its adverse effects on wildlife. She explained:

“Bighorn sheep and elk are important to hikers and hunters, directly.   For all of us, to keep our air fresh and water clean, nothing works as well as healthy forests and rivers. Keeping wildlife healthy keeps us healthy. When a solution is as simple as, ‘Do not release big bunches of balloons outdoors,’ I think people will be glad to learn more about it.”

The group might also strive to work collaboratively on a variety of initiatives. They are evaluating and prioritizing potential projects that might include:

  • Improve the forest ecosystem, to prevent forest fires and promote clean air.
  • Plant trees in urban areas.
  • Safeguarding wildlife.
  • Support infrastructure of re-charging stations for electric vehicles
  • Keep forests, deserts, and water systems healthy and clean.

The group will also endeavor to forge alliances with businesses like Intel that have already set goals for energy conservation and sustainability.

Creating a workgroup that focuses on achieving the protection and preservation of the state’s ecosystem is a worthy endeavor and should be supported.

Hopefully, this group will grow to include more legislators from both parties and meaningful measures designed to protect the air, water, and terrain will be achieved.

For more information on this new Sustainability Workgroup, please contact Representative Epstein at mepstein@azleg.gov if you are from the Phoenix area or Northern Arizona. If you are from the Tucson area and Southern Arizona, please contact Representative Engel at kengel@azleg.gov.

Featured Image of Representatives Engel (left) and Epstein (right)