President Barack Obama isn't on the Arizona primary election ballot, but judging from the campaigns, candidates and political rhetoric it seems he is running for every political office in the state, even Corporation Commissioner.
A "dark money" campaign mailer arrived in my mailbox this week promoting a slate of candidates for the state's regulatory commission. A generous six-figure campaign contribution from unknown donors to a soulless Political Action Committee, and the PAC's endorsement, were conferred upon the candidates because they are strongly opposed to "Obama's energy agenda" in Arizona.
The four-page "dark money" mailer mentions President Obama 20 times -- while referring to Arizona only six times and the candidates themselves just five times. What's more, it devotes only one sentence to explain what the PAC believes the Obama administration's "radical environmental agenda" for Arizona comprises: i.e. the EPA's proposed Climate Change plan.
What the PAC fails to mentioned is that the EPA's proposed plan is a framework for a partnership with states to reduce climate-altering carbon emissions from power plants. The proposed rules allow states one-year to develop a strategy of how they will reduce carbon emissions. The "radical" Arizona plan has not yet been crafted given that the panel assigned the task by Governor Brewer is still in the early stages of discussing what that plan should even entail.
Unfortunately, the "dark money" marketing geniuses leave out the fact that the strategy will actually reflect Arizona's preferences. Of course that narrative doesn't square with their attempt to inflame voters' emotions by tossing around anti-Obama rhetoric. Consequently, they are doing us all a disservice by trying to hoodwink voters as to what is actually happening in this regard and what the campaign is really about.
The mailer also fails to mention that the state's response to the proposed EPA rules will likely follow the same process that produced Arizona's energy plan under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) back in 2009. Each state was tasked by the U.S. Department of Energy with developing and implementing their own plans on how best to save and create jobs while investing in infrastructure, education, health and energy.
As one who was directly involved in that process, what stands out the most in my mind is how much was at stake, how much was accomplished, and the fact that there wasn't any "fighting". We all worked together to create an energy plan to put Arizonans back to work. State regulators, utility executives, state agency heads, local governmental leaders, business owners, school administrators, clean energy advocates and consumers all helped devise the plan to use federal funds from the Recovery Act to get Arizona working again.
However, the "dark money" forces would have you believe that it was a senseless plan that cost us jobs and pushed our energy bills through the roof. For this reason -- let's re-examine the so-called "Obama Energy Agenda" under the Recovery Act and what it looked like after Arizona's thought-leaders were through putting our stamp on it.
Of the nearly $56 million sent to the State of Arizona for energy projects, state officials dedicated 57 percent of the total to renewable energy projects. Most of the recipients of this funding were required to provide matching funds and as a result another $52 million in private capital was invested in these Arizona projects. The "radical job-killing" plan was broken down into six major categories (click here to see more details):
- Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Schools Grant Program
- State Buildings Energy Efficiency Program
- 21st Century Renewable Energy Grant Program
- Distributive Renewable Energy Leadership Program (a partnership with Arizona utilities to increase renewable energy installations)
- Agricultural Renewable Energy Conversion Incentive Program
- Manufacturers Energy-Efficiency Grant Assistance Program
The plan benefited Arizona schools, public buildings, farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, the construction trades, homeless veterans, disabled adults, low-income households, non-profit charitable organizations, churches, utilities, ratepayers, taxpayers, our air, our health and our economy.
It makes you wonder just exactly what the anonymous dark money donors to the Corporation Commission race would do differently given the chance? Who would benefit from their "energy agenda"?
Arizona Solar Center
Question: Should dark money be allowed into the Corporation Commission race?
(Click here to see the details of the renewable energy projects implemented under the Arizona State Government's Recovery Act allocation.)