Climate advocates urge Sinema, Kelly to support Biden’s budget plan

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State Senator Lela Alston, D-Phoenix, seated, and Dora Vasquez, director of the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans, right, join climate advocates in a press conference at the Justa Center in the downtown Phoenix to support President Joe Biden’s broad budget plan. (Photo by Emma VandenEinde / Cronkite News)

“With each passing year there are worsening heat waves and raging forest fires,” said Senator Lela Alston. “The people of Arizona know that climate change is not a distant threat but a clear and present danger.” She joined others at a press conference Thursday in downtown Phoenix. (Photo by Emma VandenEinde / Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – As much of Arizona experiences another round of excessive heat warnings, defenders joined State Senator Lela Alston on Thursday in urging U.S. Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly to support President Joe Biden’s efforts to “cope with the increasingly frequent and extreme weather conditions affecting the Arizonans.” ”

“I think it will open your eyes with our drought, and we saw what happened after the forest fires with the rain and the floods. Arizona is in really bad shape, ”Alston, D-Phoenix, said at a press conference at the downtown Justa Center. “I hope that politically we can overcome our other differences. Doing things that are good for the environment and build back better helps everyone.

The Biden administration’s $ 3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” program, which is currently before the House, includes funds for clean energy initiatives and jobs to combat the effects of climate change. The sweeping proposal comes on top of the $ 1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the Senate on August 11.

(Audio by Emma VandenEinde / Cronkite News)

From 2010 to 2020, Arizona experienced 13 extreme weather events, which cost the state up to $ 10 billion in damage, according to a White House backgrounder. Arizona received a grade C on a recent infrastructure newsletter, and the fact sheet stated that the Biden administration’s plan would address the need for what he called “resilience of our country.” infrastructure ”and help communities recover from such events.

Arizona also had the highest number of heat-related deaths last year at 522, with 323 in Maricopa County alone, according to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Department of Health. Maricopa County Public Health. People aged 65 and over accounted for 38% of the victims.

As most of the United States experiences extreme weather conditions, advocates have said it is increasingly urgent to address the effects of climate change.

“I have high hopes for the first time in 50 years,” said Hazel Chandler, state co-chair and chair of national collaborations for Elders Climate Action. “Because what I see are people all around us making their voices heard. We have seen the media talk about climate change. We had a lot of big lies there.

Chandler said her climate advocacy initially felt like she “was talking to a wall most of the time.” But in recent years, she has noticed that the public has grown louder and more critical of the government’s inaction on the environment.

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A 2020 poll conducted by researchers at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy suggested that a large majority of Arizonans – 71% of the 800 registered voters polled – “strongly agree” that the federal government “must do more to combat climate change”. Likewise, the poll found that 70% of those polled believe the state government needs to do more about climate change.

However, Biden’s budget faces a tough road in Congress without the backing of House Republicans. When the White House began to present Biden’s infrastructure proposal, Representative Andy Biggs, R-Fountain Hills, sent a letter to the White House saying the proposal ignores the country’s “most critical transportation needs” and is “dominated by costly distractions,” according to an April 12 Cronkite News article.

The press conference was hosted by the Climate Action Campaign and the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans.

The Justa Center is a daytime resource center for homeless people 55 or older who do not have access to phones, showers, laundry, and personal care services. The center includes a refreshment and hydration station, which is now open to the public, regardless of age or living situation, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

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