Recently the Obama administration celebrated the fact that the national unemployment rate remains at 8.3 percent. Arizona’s unemployment rate remains above the national average at 8.7 percent. Many of our rural counties suffer from unemployment rates that exceed 10 percent. The status quo is not praise worthy. We can do better.
Arizona has strong and innovative leaders. Working together, we have found a number of solutions that will put Arizonans back to work. Arizona can be a national model for economic recovery driven by sustainable resource development. That is, when bureaucrats are not killing our job-creating solutions with unnecessary regulations.
Over the past couple months, the Obama administration has announced three job-killing regulatory actions that will devastate the Arizona economy: (1) The arbitrary ban on mining in the Arizona Strip, (2) excessive regulations that threaten air tourism at Grand Canyon National Park, and (3) the development of new Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technique (MACT) regulations which would double electricity prices and threaten electric reliability.
Early this year, President Obama and Secretary Salazar unveiled a plan to ban economic development on one million acres of public land in the Arizona Strip — a strip expressly set aside for mining. This ban is unnecessary to protect the Grand Canyon National Park, stifles the creation of over 1,000 jobs, stops $29.4 billion in economic output, kills $2 billion in federal and state corporate income taxes, and many other indirect economic benefits. Even worse, it perpetuates our nation’s dependence on foreign energy.
The heightened rhetoric surrounding this issue uses scare tactics, not facts. No mining can exist within the park’s boundaries, or the park buffer which extends well beyond the park’s boundaries. Additionally, the Arizona Geological Survey has verified development will not compromise our region’s water supply. I strongly believe cautious development with strong oversight under strict federal and state environmental laws strikes the careful balance between economic activity and environmental protection. That is why Congressman Trent Franks, Jeff Flake and I, have introduced the “Northern Arizona Mining Continuity Act,” legislation that would reverse the administration’s land grab and lock up.
Secondly, the administration is developing radical regulations that threaten the very livelihood of the Grand Canyon air tour industry and restricts the ability for people across the country to see all of the canyon’s natural beauty. This vital aspect of our tourism economy employs over 1,250 people and generates millions of dollars of economic activity.
The regulations use flawed data that does not take into account the millions of dollars that industry has proactively invested to reduce noise. I will be introducing bipartisan legislation “The Grand Canyon Air Tour Protection Act” which ensures visitors will have the ability to view the park by air if they wish to do so, but in a manner that maintains “natural quiet” for those visiting the canyon by foot.
Additionally, this past December, the EPA announced new regulations that will force power plants to reduce their emissions within the next three years. The regulation does so by requiring technology that does not exist or is so cost prohibitive, the power plants may shut down. These regulations are estimated to destroy four permanent jobs for every one temporary job created — 1.44 million jobs by 2020 — and increase energy prices exponentially. Last year, I voted to delay this unreasonable delegation.
Not all is doom and gloom. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my bill — Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2011 — that would revitalize the Arizona economy. This bill removes government barriers to the construction of the largest copper mine in North America. This project will support over 3,700 jobs and have over $1 billion in economic impact in our state annually.
We are closer than ever to getting this project started. The Senate should immediately vote on my legislation, which passed the House last year, and send it to the president to sign.
Arizona is ready to be a leader in turning around the nation’s unemployment, but first the federal government has to get out of the way, and the “do nothing” Senate needs to pass over 30 pending job bills.