Bill demanding separation from UN declaration still alive

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- The Arizona House of Representatives continues to look at a bill designed to send a message to the United Nations.  It would keep Arizona and its counties and cities from considering environmentally sustainable practices outlined in a 1992 declaration by the world organization.

“You know, we have our Constitution; it's being shredded,” Sen. Judy Burges said during a February committee hearing where she presented SB1507.  “I think it's time we stood up and said, 'No more.'”

The Senate has already approved the bill.  Far right-wing groups such as the John Birch Society see the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development as a UN plan to take private land, among other things. That isn’t mentioned in the 27 principles outlined.

The bill is less than a page long, but some business leaders and environmentalists worry it will be another black eye for Arizona on the national stage.  No one knows how many government programs it might unravel.

“They're non-binding principles,” said Sandy Bahr, chapter director for Sierra Club.  “They are statements that say we care about the future and we think we ought to leave something for our children.”

“The sustainability manager for Maricopa County, would his job go away?” wondered Stacey Champion, who works with sustainability businesses.  “When you start to really look at the big picture, it could have detrimental effects because it's just so obtuse and broad.”

Burges did not respond to an email for clarification.  The House scheduled a vote for Monday, then put it off until Tuesday.