Arizona Capitol Times: Voters Agree Sustainability is Key to Our Future
As we celebrate Earth Month, Arizona enjoys — despite an era of perceived partisan division across the country — remarkable consensus about the need to prioritize the environment and create a sustainable future. Arizonans understand that living in harmony with the environment is good for our health and good for our economy.
Knowing that they have the support of voters across the political spectrum presents an incredible opportunity for elected officials to take action toward a more sustainable future for Arizona. How do we know this is the will of Arizona voters? Because that’s what they’ve told us.
Results of multiple surveys conducted for Center for the Future of Arizona reveal that regardless of political affiliation, Arizona voters prioritize water security, improved air quality, preventing wildfires, and preserving natural areas and wildlife. Near supermajorities also support a transition to clean energy.
And if resources to take these actions are a concern, Arizona does not have to make these investments alone! The state of Arizona is eligible to receive federal funding to address environmental and water issues, including drought resiliency, clean air, energy improvement in rural areas, electric grid resiliency, and forest fire management. Eighty-five percent of Arizona voters support these investment opportunities.
The recent creation of Arizona’s Office of Resiliency aligns with these bipartisan priorities, and it allows the state to maximize federal investment dollars made available by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). This office, coupled with the funds it allows the state to tap into, has the potential to not only fuel investment but promote job growth, savings for households, and billions of dollars in economic impact for Arizona.
All of this means that at this moment, those with decision-making power have arrived at a confluence of factors that point towards action as the priorities of voters align, funds have been made available, and systems have been designed to facilitate the outcomes voters want.
Water is, of course, high on that list of priorities. We are at a critical turning point with the long-term drought and the likelihood of cutbacks to Arizona’s water supply.
When we asked Arizona voters what they believe should be the top priorities for water use, they were evenly distributed between those who prioritize using water for agriculture, those who believe recreation and conservation should be the top priority, and those who would advocate for water to support growth. This means that water-related solutions need to offer ways to do more with what we have.
This is a tall order, without a doubt. But it is top of mind for Arizona voters. Nearly 75% of voters don’t believe Arizona will have enough water for the long term. And 95% of voters believe securing Arizona’s water future and long-term water supplies is a top priority.
Arizona voters prioritize sustainable solutions that move our state forward and ultimately create The Arizona We Want. Water is top of mind for Arizona voters, but so are other issues like clean air, clean energy, and rising temperatures. Addressing these issues can support Arizona’s continued growth, good jobs, and improved health outcomes.
It would also demonstrate to the nation how the Shared Public Values of Arizonans can be embraced and prioritized by lawmakers across party lines to benefit the entire state and our shared future.
Sybil Francis, Ph.D., is president & CEO of Center for the Future of Arizona, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that brings Arizonans together to create a stronger and brighter future for our state.