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Farm Bureau, Arizona Senate Republicans ditch Hobbs’ Water Policy Council

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(The Center Square) – Arizona Senate Republicans and the Arizona Farm Bureau are leaving Gov. Katie Hobbs’ Water Policy Council as they believe it’s become too politicized on the issue of rural groundwater usage.

Senate Whip Sine Kerr, R-Buckeye, said that it’s been difficult for other perspectives to be considered that do not match a “progressive” worldview. In her letter, Kerr writes that the council seems determined to greenlight Local Groundwater Stewardship Area legislation backed by the Environmental Defense Fund.

“In the absence of a representative from your office the last few meetings, the Department [of Water Resources] has on several occasions directed questions regarding the intent or motivation of the proposal to the lobbyist for Environmental Defense Fund,” she wrote in a letter.

In addition, the senator alleges that there are only two private-sector agricultural leaders on the council out of 34 non-legislative appointments.

“The Governor’s Water Policy Council is nothing more than a forum to rubberstamp the progressive environmental goals of special interest groups,” Kerr said in a statement.

In addition, the Arizona Farm Bureau pulled themselves from the council, saying that their perspective has not been properly considered and that the council is aiming to reach a specific conclusion, KYMA reported Friday.

Christian Slater, Hobbs’ communications director, told The Center Square in an email that he’s disappointed in their decision to leave the group.

“We are disappointed Water Policy Council members have chosen not to participate in a bipartisan process that engages communities from across Arizona and gives a voice to a wide range of viewpoints,” Slater said. “By refusing to work with the diverse stakeholders at the table, the exiting members are doing a disservice to rural farmers and depriving them of a voice at the table while alternatives to [Active Management Areas] and [Irrigation Non-Expansion Areas] are being considered.”

“These alternatives could give communities a greater voice in their local groundwater management and any characterization otherwise is incorrect. But the resignation of the Farm Bureau and Senator Kerr make it more likely that State leaders charged with protecting our water future will be left without alternatives to implementing AMAs and INAs. Moving forward, the Council will continue to work productively bringing rural and urban stakeholders together to protect Arizona’s water future and continue our growth for generations to come,” he added.

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