The Impacts of Climate Change and the Trump Administration’s Anti-Environmental Agenda in Arizona

A wildfire swept through Yarnell, Arizona, leaving a charred landscape behind, July 2013.

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Just in the past three years, the Trump administration has attempted to roll back at least 95 environmental rules and regulations to the detriment of the environment and Americans’ public health. Moreover, the administration refuses to act to mitigate the effects of climate change—instead loosening requirements for polluters emitting the greenhouse gases that fuel the climate crisis. This dangerous agenda is affecting the lives of Americans across all 50 states.

Between 2017 and 2019, Arizona experienced one drought and one wildfire. The damages of each event led to losses of at least $1 billion.

Impacts of climate change

Extreme weather

  • The severity of summer droughts in Arizona is expected to more than triple by 2050, giving it the second-largest projected increase in the United States.
  • Arizona currently experiences 80 days of high wildfire By 2050, that number is expected to increase to 115 days—the second-highest number in the country. Nearly 2.9 million Arizona residents, or 45 percent of the state’s population, currently face an elevated risk of wildfire.

Temperature

  • Arizona currently experiences 50 days of dangerous heat per year, the second-highest in the nation. However, the state is projected to see 80 such days per year by 2050. This endangers the lives of the nearly 200,000 Arizona residents who are especially vulnerable to extreme heat.
  • Arizona is the fourth fastest-warming state in the United States, according to data on warming rates since 1970.

Impacts of the Trump administration’s anti-environmental policies

Climate

  • In March 2020, the Trump administration announced its final rule to overturn Obama-era fuel efficiency standards for cars. These weakened fuel standards will lead to higher greenhouse gas and particulate matter emissions and will cost Arizona residents more than $400 million
  • The Trump administration is attempting to gut climate considerations from major infrastructure projects by eliminating the “cumulative impact” requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act. This is concerning because Arizona’s economy relies heavily on its tourism, agriculture, and outdoor recreation industries—all of which are highly dependent on climate and weather conditions.
    • Tourism: Arizona’s tourism sector employs nearly 200,000 people and generated more than $24 billion in spending within the state in 2018.
    • Agriculture: The agricultural industry in Arizona employs more than 130,000 people and is valued at more than $23 billion.
    • Outdoor recreation: The outdoor recreation industry in Arizona generates 201,000 direct jobs and more than $21 billion in consumer spending for the state.

Air quality

  • Mercury emissions in Arizona decreased by more than 87 percent from 2011 to 2017, yet the Trump administration just undermined limits on the amount of mercury and other toxic emissions that are allowed from power plants.

To read the personal stories of Americans affected by climate change and the impacts of the Trump administration’s anti-environmental policies in your state, visit OurEnvironment.org.