A pollution bill the state’s top environmental official says would turn Arizonans into human guinea pigs has received legislative approval but still faces a possible veto from Gov. Janet Napolitano.
SB1356, which already passed in the House of Representatives, received final Senate approval Wednesday by a 17-13 vote.
Steve Owens, director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, said the bill would allow industry to increase pollution output without getting the approval required now.
Instead, DEQ could only regulate the pollution output after conducting studies on human exposure to hazardous air pollutants and determining people were getting sick or dying.
“If there were people who had died, we would have to say, ‘Yeah, that’s a pretty bad one,’ “ Owens said.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Carolyn Allen, R-Scottsdale, would only apply to existing factories and other sources of “hazardous air pollutants” that had undergone expansion or modification.
Allen did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday.
Hazardous air pollutants are defined as those “known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects, such as reproductive disorders, birth defects or adverse environmental and ecological effects,” according to the bill.
Such chemicals include arsenic, dioxins, benzene, beryllium and vinyl chloride. Common sources include power plants, manufacturing plants and mines, Owens said.
Napolitano press aide Jeanine L’Ecuyer said if the governor received the bill today, she would have until Wednesday to approve or veto it.