It all started with a letter to State Representative Mitzi Epstein from nine-year-old Amber Chen.
The letter asked Arizona Lawmakers to write legislation that would combat balloon and plastic pollution to help save animals.
Later in the legislative session, girl scouts helped write a bill as an educational exercise to address this issue.
Over the summer, Representative Epstein and other State Legislators formed the Arizona Bicameral Sustainability Workgroup, a group dedicated to finding solutions with the scientific-university community, community stakeholders, cities and businesses to combat pollution.
On January 22, 2020, Ms. Epstein, joined by Girl Scouts and experts in combatting pollution, held a gathering in the State Capital Rose Garden to introduce two bills (HB 2339 and HB 2338) to reduce pollution.
HB 2339 deals with decreasing balloon liter. If passed, this legislation would make it illegal to not clean up balloon garbage. Individuals that are cited for littering balloon debris would have to perform community-cleaning service.
HB 2338 is a more ambitious measure to fight pollution.
It calls for investing $400,000 for public schools to plant low Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds emitting trees. These funds would be supervised by the Arizona Department of Education.
The bill proponents feel that the $400,000 investment could result in a savings of five million dollars in electricity costs and the removal of 57,000 pounds of ground-level ozone and smog.
Commenting on HB 2338, Representative Epstein said:
“HB2338 is far more important than might be assumed because of its youthful advocates. It is about clean air, and Arizona needs to make improvements in air quality now…….. You cannot see ozone air pollution, but it’s like a sunburn on your lungs. Planting trees will make a difference.”
Balloon debris, especially latex ones, cause great harm to the animals that eat them. Smog incapacitates and reduces the life spans of human, animal, and plant life.
Representative Epstein, her colleagues on the Arizona Bicameral Sustainability Workgroup, the Girl Scouts, and their allies in the scientific, educational, and business community should be commended for taking these first common-sense steps in fighting pollution.
More needs to be done but this is a sound foundation to start from.
The writer is a PC of Arizona Legislative District 18.