Guest Editorial: Grasping for Clear Air

By Councilmember Betty Janik

Recently, I received emails asking me to “reject” the Maricopa Association of Governors (MAG) recommendations on techniques to reduce ozone levels in Maricopa County.  First, what is MAG?  It is a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).  By state statue MPO is the policy board created and designated to carry out the metropolitan transportation planning process including plans for managing ozone, carbon monoxide and particulates.  MAG is our MPO.  While MAG oversees planning and managing policy, the county and the state are entrusted with regulating policy.

Now let’s get back to the emails.  The email from “votervoice” claimed specific MAG recommendations included a ban on gas powered cars, gas powered water heaters, etc. No ban has been recommended. A slick video was also referenced that had a kernel of truth mixed in with gross exaggerations of reality.  It is totally reasonable that many who received the email believed it and were very upset.   All too often we see the unbelievable unfold before our eyes and there is the ever-present messaging of social media with little regard for accuracy or truth. Let’s clarify the ozone issue:

Based on solid scientific evidence, our Government Relations Director has communicated to us that:

The region has serious air quality issues.  As a region and a state, we must present a plan to improve our air quality to avoid federal intervention.   

Here are some of the pertinent MAG Talking Points on Ozone Nonattainment from April 20, 2023:

– The Maricopa County area has been reclassified from Marginal to Moderate ozone nonattainment.

– The Federal Clean Air Act and the EPA require our region to meet the federal ozone standard by the summer of 2024.

– MAG’s Technical Air Quality Committee, compromising technical staff from member agencies and the business community, has reviewed an initial list of potential measures to reduce ozone.  This list of potential measures has NOT yet been considered by MAG policy committees.

– Discussion on potential new ozone control measures will continue this spring as part of MAG’s planning responsibilities.

To learn more, go to pages 47-78:

When we receive messages on hot button issues, please remember many are false. Know that there is more that unites us as a community than divides us.  We all share common goals that include a safe environment with clean air and a reliable source of water, among others.  We need to build on these threads of unity that bind us as a thriving city.  Unfortunately, the current emphasis appears to be on the differences of opinion on how to achieve our goals rather than identifying common ground from which compromise and solutions can be generated.  I ask you to always focus on the issues and be respectful of others with differing points of view.  Refrain from attacking individuals.  By listening to all perspectives, we will be better able to attain satisfactory outcomes that benefit the greater good.