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Arizona Senate Bill 1507 Aims to Prohibit the Rio Declaration and Ban Sustainability Initiatives State-Wide

3p Contributor | Thursday April 5th, 2012 | 21 Comments

By Stacey Champion

Arizona is nationally known for its extreme politics, giving daily fodder to the likes of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert (Image via RottenTomatoes.com)

We currently have one of the most conservative State Legislatures in Arizona’s history, with an onslaught of bills in recent news – many of which have passed – that are anti-immigration, anti-women and anti-environment.

I’ve lived in this state for 13 years, and have been an environmental consultant and sustainability advocate for the majority of that time.  So, when I found out about SB 1507, a bill that would serve the sole purpose of prohibiting the Rio Declaration in Arizona, it made me angry and intent on trying to educate people about the BIGGER picture of the potential ramifications with regard to the health, vibrancy and economic future of our state. There is a committed and strong sustainability industry here, and I’m here to tell you, there really is a large population of sane people in Arizona who are working toward improving our region.

Many of these Tea Party-leaning bills, such as SB1507, fly under the radar with Strike All Amendments.

Senate Bill 1507 was introduced by Senator Judy Burges (who made national news with her ‘Birther Bill’) in February 2012.  The original title of SB1507 was “unemployment insurance; technical correction,” which was changed to “United Nations Rio declaration; prohibition” after the Strike All amendment was passed. By the time the majority of the sustainability community found out about this bill, it had been passing through the Senate with virtually little discussion, and the only public commentary coming from Senator Burges’s supporters of the bill.

You can watch some of that testimony here:  SB 1507 House Committee Testimony.

The Rio Declaration was the result of a United Nations Conference on Environment and Development that took place in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.  The conference agenda was to reaffirm the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment which had been adopted at Stockholm in 1972, and to further expand upon the mission,

“With the goal of establishing a new and equitable global partnership through the creation of new levels of cooperation among States, key sectors of societies and people, working towards international agreements which respect the interests of all and protect the integrity of the global environmental and developmental system, and recognizing the integral and interdependent nature of the Earth, our home.”

Twenty-seven principles were adopted into the Rio Declaration (also known as Agenda 21).

Agenda 21 has become the target of right wing conspiracy theorists, such as the John Birch Society, and is the new BIG BAD WOLF.  There are actual “Stop Agenda 21″ tool kits along with language for bills (just like SB 1507)  so we won’t supposedly have a UN takeover while we’re sleeping.  Anything touted as green or sustainable has become code word for socialist society take-over to the off their rockers Tea Party crew.  Michael Schmitz, Executive Director of ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability USA, wrote a 3p piece about the recent attacks on green cities reminding people that:

“Agenda 21 is not a treaty or legally binding document and does not infringe upon the sovereignty of any nation, state, or local government. Bottom line, it isn’t being forced on anybody, anywhere, by any organization.”

Apparently Senator Burges missed that memo…

Arizona is the 4th state to try to pass the Anti Agenda 21 bill. Other states include New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Tennessee.  It was killed in committee in all three of those states, and Tennessee even did a fiscal review of how the state would be financially impacted, which you can read HERE.  Arizona should take note.

If Senate Bill 1507 is allowed to pass in Arizona, this is my short list of how it could potentially hurt our state:

  • Jobs – The green and sustainable job market is one of the only consistently growing markets in AZ.  Any and all federal funding for green job training could vanish. We also have green sects throughout our government at both city and state levels. What would happen to those jobs?
  • Business/Industry – Nearly every large corporation and industry (and many small businesses) have sustainability initiatives/plans.  This is now a way of life – as well it should be because it’s smart. Sustainability plans are meant to save companies money by using less energy, increasing productivity, lessening environmental impacts, and a myriad of other things that are good for People, Planet + Profit.  Would large companies like Intel want to set up shop in a state that was opposed to the Rio Declaration in this day and age?  The answer is an emphatic NO.
  • Health – Green building programs and policies improve the health of our people – thus saving millions of dollars in healthcare costs.  As someone who has worked as an indoor air/environmental quality consultant for 10 years, I would be happy to point anyone to hundreds of peer-reviewed and published studies with regard to the health benefits associated with green building, as well as less absenteeism and improved test scores in green-built schools.
  • Economy – Our economy is still down and many people are still un- or under-employed.  Energy programs such as Energize Phoenix (which was possible through a Federal energy grant) and serves to help people lower their utility costs (which is a huge burden in our state especially during summer months) by offering extremely low out-of-pocket costs to upgrade HVAC systems, add insulation, make sure ducts are sealed and offer shade screens could simply go away if this bill is passed.
  • ASU – An integral part of our urban core is ASU.  An integral part of ASU is the School of Sustainability.  Need I say more?
  • Social Equality/Environmental Justice – Sustainability only works if it reaches across all socio-economic levels, into every neighborhood and touches every group of people in our ethnically diverse state. Funding would dry up for TOD (transit oriented development) various HUD programs, and I can bet that Habitat for Humanity probably wouldn’t get much love, either. And let us not forget the giant toxic plume that lives under a good part of Phoenix and is causing carcinogenic vapor intrusion issues into homes and schools in low-mid income neighborhoods.  We should probably not study that stuff anymore.  Cancer clusters aren’t really a big deal, right Legislators?
So I can only hope that this ridiculous bill is stopped in it’s tracks and not revived.  I created an online petition to oppose SB1507 if you care to sign it.  In the mean time, wish all us Arizonans some luck.  We need it.
Stacey Champion, based in Phoenix, AZ, is the owner of Champion PR + Consulting, Champion Indoors, LLC, is the organizer of Rogue Green (a monthly sustainability group) and is a community activist and blogger.  She can be reached at champion@cox.net or through Twitter – @ChampPR & @RogueGreen.  
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▼▼▼      21 Comments     ▼▼▼

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  • http://twitter.com/amadeus8888 Amadeus Frison

    Lol. Agenda 21 is a joke and should be banned in every state. I for one do not believe private property contributes to “social injustice” or that national sovereignty should be abolished. Plus, the UN is run by maniacal dictators. Why should mass murderers have any say at all in how we run our states? I will be calling my lawmakers today and asking them to fully support this effort!

    • http://www.triplepundit.com Nick Aster

      Who said “private property contributes to “social injustice” or that national sovereignty should be abolished”?  I seem to have missed that bit…

      • http://www.facebook.com/debbie.gaylord1 Gaylord Debra

        Google quotes by Maurice Strong,  and Earth Summit. You’ll see why so many people are concerned. 

        He was quoted in the Sept. 1, 1997 edition of National Review Magazine as saying, ” [The Earth Summit will plan an important role in] reforming & strengthening the United Nations as the centerpiece of the emerging system of democratic global governance.”

        In the opening speech at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, he said, “Current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class – involving high meat intake, the use of fossil fuels, electrical appliances, home & work-place air conditioning, & suburban housing – are not sustainable.” 

        It sounds surreal, but there are many at the UN that are working this way a little at a time. During the past year, we’ve heard news reports of Hillary wanting the US to sign treaties that would force American parents to raise their children by UN standards and let the UN be in charge of registering guns in America. 

        It’s time for us to tell our elected officials in no uncertain terms to “put on the breaks.”

  • Cbksk

    Someone tell ASU, they have moved big into sustainability.

    The fevered imaginations of the teabaggers needs medication or as a teabagger might say a 2nd amendment solution.

  • Anneke9

    Agenda 21 is NOT just the Big, Bad Wolf of the evil right wing.  There are also liberals who don’t like it    http://www.democratsagainstunagenda21.com/

  • Vanessa Davis

    Thanks for this article Stacey Champion – specifically for pointing out the myriad of ways in which Arizona Senate Bill 1507 would be harmful, if made law, to Arizona. It would appear the supporters of this bill don’t have any valid reasons to object pursuing sustainability in Arizona… this appears to be more of an attack on the idea writ large solely because it was supported by the Rio Declaration. For the record, I am an advocate of ICLEI and the brave work they are doing to encourage international cooperation with regards to local and global sustainability. Additionally, as Stacey pointed out, participation in ICLEI has always been voluntary (and for the record not all AZ cities are currently listed as members). Moreover, a large majority of sustainability-related projects and programs in AZ (I’d venture to guess 95% or more) have no ties whatsoever to ICLEI; Stacey has pointed out many of the benefits of these projects and programs. I’d encourage supporters of this bill to delve in further to become educated on the benefits of sustainability for people, planet, place, etc… and I ask you, what do have against taking better care of your economy, society and environment in the face of sustaining healthy, happy lives for your future generations (your sons, daughters, grand children, etc)?

  • Vanessa Davis

    …for those who have not seen the girl who silenced the world for 5 minutes when she addressed a UN Meeting on the issue of environment and future well-being. This is extremely relevant to the issue in discussion (SB 1507) and I hope that all deciding legislation takes 5 minutes to hear what this child has to say. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQmz6Rbpnu0 

    • Hernandez Avitia

       That little girl only knew that crap thats been fed to her….she was speaking directly to the people who have continued to make this world worse and did they give a damn? Obviously not….videos like this are used by UN to sway emotions in the meek and easily humbled people who know no better and believe they can make a difference by being humble.

       The fact is that evil needs true resistance and even more so counter action! Evil will play any hand, including taking the good cop role as far as sheeple will let it play out! Media is controlled, co-opted at least and so are conferences, gatherings, events, almost anything you can think of that appears to be in good favor for the majority of the world and the future is really an Agenda 21 proponent and infiltrated by the conspirators of the planet. TED talks and environment conferences especially! Any anti-carbon/green/sustainability acts and laws are socialism masks, government needs to get smaller not take over every aspect of our daily lives!

      WAKE UP PEOPLE!

      United Nations + Agenda 21 = New World Order

  • Stacey Champion

    Thank you so much, Vanessa.  I love this video so much.  It’s one of my favorites.  :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Faye-Hall/100000176944000 Faye Hall

    Research before you climb onto this bandwagon.  These people want a POST-industrial world.  And they’re working hard to get there.  They’ve shut down 800+ dams already and working on demolishing another 4 in upper California/Oregon.  Nick, just a little research would lead you to their material that states private property ownership is a social injustice.  The Cape Hatteras local economy is being shut down.  They tried it here with a lizard.  They shut the lumber business down in the upper northwest.  All kinds of stuff is goiing on all around you.  Open your eyes.  http://wtcccagenda21.blogspot.com/

    • http://www.triplepundit.com Nick Aster

      Faye, those are hundreds of different projects in hundreds of different localities.  None of that has anything to do with the UN.  Who are “these people” you’re referring to?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Faye-Hall/100000176944000 Faye Hall

    Here’s you another site.  http://www.freedomadvocates.org/ Look before you leap.

  • D G

    “The paranoia infecting a broad swath of the American right-wing can be
    comical at times — think about Orly Taitz and her fellow Birthers. But
    we laugh at our own peril, because what Richard Hofstadter famously characterized as
    “the paranoid style in American politics” poses a serious threat to our
    future: the right’s snowballing conspiracy theories could ultimately
    lead to disaster. ”
    http://bit.ly/tjFi9i

    Faye, are you ready to destroy the chance of our children having a livable future on this theory?

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/DMILLYDCIL56CFJEMOYKE2VCEY Xangagnome

      Are you ready to destroy the chance of our children living in a free society unencumbered by the whims of the United Nations overriding our freedoms?  Check deeper, kids.  YOU are the insane ones if you believe this drivel.

  • Bruce Ash

    UN Agenda 21 must be stopped in Arizona.

    As a co sponsor of the RNC resolution against UN Agenda 21 I support SB1507 being passed and signed by the Governor.

    Bruce Ash
    National Committeeman
    Arizona

    • http://profiles.google.com/niobiumstudio Jack Servedio

      A non-binding agreement with the goal of simply promoting sustainability, green initiatives, global environments, and other generally good things FROM TWENTY YEARS AGO needs to be banned with the most broadly written, obscure, and purposely open-ended language? Because a couple of crack-pots who agreed to agenda 21 (even though they are literally hundreds of thousands of people related to the various organizations) made a few statements about how they want socialism or something – it means that EVERYTHING else talked about in agenda 21 needs to be literally banned? You are telling me nobody is going to use SB1507 in un-intended ways to subvert regulations? If the point is truly avoiding some conspiracy of a UN takeover – why don’t you use language that states you won’t abide by United Nations MANDATES and that state law/federal law supercedes this (even though the US/AZ constitution say this already) instead of this stupid language? You are a partisan a-hole using FUD to get broadly over-reaching law on the books to exploit.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/DMILLYDCIL56CFJEMOYKE2VCEY Xangagnome

        Look into the consequences of the “voluntary” Agenda 21  initiatives undertaken in Oregon, for instance.  People losing their rights to their own private property is happening…all because a few people decided that humans rights are not as important as animals rights, or Mother Earth’s rights.  Check it out Jack.  Yes, things can be done to make our environment better, but this isn’t the way to do it.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/Q5G2MZKLGDPJMKMWVTQTJVL2IQ John Mac

    All US citizens need to understand the bipartisan effort to remove ICLEI from ordinances, laws, and general plan legislation. UN Agenda 21 and US Smart Growth programs are diverting Property Taxes from City and State funds and are robbing property owners of the rights that run with land ownership.

    The US Smart Growth programs have been improperly implemented and need to be fixed as soon as possible.

    You’ll find ICLEI in the following Arizona locations:
    Chandler

    Flagstaff

    Goodyear

    Peoria

    Phoenix

    Tempe

    Tucson

    details:
    DEMOCRATS AGAINST U.N. AGENDA  21
    http://www.democratsagainstunagenda21.com/

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/DMILLYDCIL56CFJEMOYKE2VCEY Xangagnome

      I can get behind your group, John, even if I am not a “D”!

  • Hernandez Avitia

     Agenda 21 is a serious threat and any law that provides a means of keeping it out of our states should definitely be considered….maybe 1507 could use some rewriting or maybe its fine as is but I’ll take any “adverse” consequences that come along with it rather than submit sovereignty and freedom over to the United Nations!

  • http://www.facebook.com/don.lusk.5 Don Lusk

    You still don’t get it!! Agenda 21 is a group or body who is not elected
    by “We the People” to come in and “help” you turn everything green for
    the good of the “planet” (they will give you money with strings
    attached). Individualism is out and globalism is in “for the good of the
    whole”. Gee where have I heard this before “one world government, one
    world money, one world religion”. Its in the bible and its called NWO (new world order). Get it now!!!!!!!!!