Fountains Hills Town Councilmember Allen Skillicorn announced Monday that conservative members of the Town Council prevented implementing something he called a “Green New Deal” style environmental plan.
“Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) must have turned green with envy when Fountain Hills tried to pass an Environmental Plan Tuesday February 21. All based on an 11-page utopian manifesto,” Skillicorn said in a statement emailed to reporters. “Luckily the conservative majority on the Fountain Hills town council stopped this expansion of the Green New Deal.”
According to the Fountain Hills, the 11-page 2022 Town of Fountain Hills Environmental Plan (TFHEP) stems from the Town’s 2020 General Plan. Voters previously approved this plan, which contained some elements addressing the environment. The Town’s Strategic Planning Advisory Commission (SPAC) crafted the TFHEP using those elements and a few additions, and it was up to the council to approve it.
The TFEHP covers various topics such as water conservation, waste management, developing more trails for outdoor activities, and preserving historic and archeological resources. One of the additions not outlined by the general plan was the push to become a more biophilic community by designing town facilities to be more connected to nature.
However, Skillicorn shared that he took issue with some parts of the plan. For example, to improve air quality, the plan outlined eliminating gasoline-powered landscape equipment, such as leaf blowers, and reducing carbon monoxide pollution and dependence on automobiles by encouraging bicycles, alternate transportation, and local transit service use. Additionally, public buildings and infrastructure would need to be designed in an “environmentally sustainable” manner.
The TFEHP appeared before the Town Council during the February 21st meeting; however, Fountain Hills Councilmember Brenda Kalivianakis presented an amendment to change some of the plan’s wording. For example, one of the amendments removed the elimination of landscape equipment. Kalivianakis said this policy was “politically charged” and restrictive when not everyone has transitioned to non-gas-powered equipment. Other amendments included striking the vehicle use section to just focus on local transit and removing the alternative transportation language.
“I like my internal combustion engine, and I like driving my automobile and to say that we’re going to reduce automotive dependence, again, I think it’s politically charged. I think it’s kind of Green New Deal-ish, and I’m not comfortable with it,” Kalivianakis said.
However, other council members took issue with the amendments, including Fountain Hills Mayor Ginny Dickey. She argued that part of this environmental plan’s goal is reducing pollution, and if the council cuts back on language doing so, then there is no point in having the plan at all.
Moreover, even if adopted as it was, the plan could not enforce anything. Fountain Hills Town Manager explained the TFEHP as a “vision” rather than a mandate. While the TFEHP would create goals, any policies based on those goals would still need approval from the council.
Nevertheless, councilmember Hannah Toth stated her belief that the amendments made would have only minor impacts and that the plan’s main goals would remain intact with their inclusion. Skillikorn motioned to vote on the TFEHP as amended. The plan passed with the changes by a vote of four in favor and three against.
“I will not allow Arizona to slide into California! Last night four conservatives stopped the green new deal in Fountain Hills. This begs the question, when leaf blowers are outlawed, will only outlaws will blow leaves,” Skillicorn said following the meeting.
I will not allow AZ to slide into California! Last night 4 conservatives stopped the green new deal in Fountain Hills. pic.twitter.com/H5mGj3vWur
— Flip AZ Solid Red🌵 🇺🇸 (@allenskillicorn) February 22, 2023
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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Allen Skillicorn” by Town of Fountain Hills. Background Photo “Fountain Hills, Arizona” by Marine 69-71. CC BY-SA 4.0.