Tag Archives: michelle de blasi

energy supply - AZ Business Magazine May/June 2012

Arizona needs clear message to capitalize on energy

States with the most successful industry clusters have a common characteristic — unwavering support from government, industry and the public. The oil and gas industry in Texas was built with support for the industry from all levels. Such support is not garnered unless the industry has a common voice in articulating its needs.

To some extent, Arizona has a robust energy industry. With the largest nuclear power plant in the nation, as well as hydropower and coal resources, our state wields considerable strength in contributing to the region’s power generation. However, as our current energy resources inevitably age and require upgrades or replacements, it is critical that Arizona is strategic about its future resources. It is for that reason that the Arizona Energy Consortium (AEC) recently released the Arizona Energy Roadmap, as a methodology for creating a strategic focus for the growth and further development of the energy industry.

As an environmental and energy attorney working heavily in the energy sector, I have experienced first-hand where the issues lie in the development of energy projects. Whether representing a manufacturer, developer, utility, investor or energy off taker, I have witnessed that any unnecessary barriers to getting projects to market limit Arizona’s ability to grow its industry. It is with this focus in mind that I helped establish and co-chair the AEC. Not only to remove the unnecessary barriers, but also to help create a common voice for our energy industry.

Creating a long-term plan for a state with such a diverse energy mix does not come without its challenges. For instance, sometimes the more established sectors such as coal and natural gas do not necessarily support or understand the need for an emerging renewable energy industry. In fact, in many cases the fossil fuel and renewable energy sectors are at odds because they feel they are in direct competition with each other. However, the AEC is working to educate both sectors on how they can support one another. A “winner take all” approach is not the desired outcome since a diverse energy mix creates a more stable, secure and reliable industry. By working together to find ways traditional fossil fuels can firm intermittent renewable power, as well as utilize common infrastructure, the sectors are beginning to speak, although slowly, with a common message.

Another barrier to development is inefficient permitting processes. Regardless of the technology, permitting delays cost time and money and in many instances can delay a project indefinitely. Since the creation of energy generation projects drives the need for manufacturing, permitting delays also create issues for the growth of the industry cluster. If there are fewer projects coming online, then there are fewer manufacturers who will be attracted to the state to site their facilities. Some of Arizona’s jurisdictions have had success reducing permitting timeframes to better support industry. The AEC is working to continue this process statewide for utility-scale projects, as well as support other entities working to improve the process for distributed generation.

Arizona has the opportunity to benefit from a robust energy economy if it can only address the redundancy in permitting and the confusing messaging. The AEC is focusing these efforts in an attempt to drive economic development, a diversified energy mix and higher paying jobs.

Michelle De Blasi, co-chair of the Arizona Energy Consortium, is a shareholder in the Phoenix office of international law firm Greenberg Traurig. De Blasi focuses her practice on environmental law, with an emphasis on natural resources matters. She advises clients on energy and environmental sustainability, including traditional and renewable energy project permitting, climate change, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Michelle De Blasi - 50 Most Influential Women in AZ Business

Michelle De Blasi – 50 Most Influential Women in Arizona Business

Michelle De BlasiShareholder, Greenberg Traurig

De Blasi focuses her practice on environmental law, with an emphasis on natural resources matters. She advises clients on energy and environmental matters, including traditional and renewable energy project development, environmental permitting and compliance, and greenhouse gas emissions. She is also co-chair of the Arizona Energy Consortium.

Surprising fact: “I grew up on a working farm in rural Colorado, but I started my career near the ocean working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.”

Biggest challenge: “Finding a good work-life balance as a working mom. There are sometimes challenges, but many rewards, and I’m proud my kids know both are options for them.”

Fifty Most Influential Women in Arizona Business – Every year in its July/August issue Arizona Business Magazine features 50 women who make an impact on Arizona business. To see the full list, read the digital issue >>

Pamela Overton Risoleo

31 Phoenix Greenberg Traurig attorneys earn honors

The international law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP with 50 Arizona-based attorneys, has 22 attorneys on the 2013 Southwest Super Lawyers list, an independent rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas. In addition, the publication also named nine Greenberg Traurig attorneys as Southwest Rising Stars.

“We are extremely proud of this independent recognition by Super Lawyers,” said John E. Cummerford, a co-managing shareholder in Greenberg Traurig’s Phoenix office. “The professionals included on this list are exceptional and truly deserving of this honor. I’m proud of the strength and local roots of our Phoenix office which is supported by our firm’s national resources and global reach.”

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters organization, is a research-driven, peer-influenced rating service of lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The mission of Super Lawyers is to bring visibility to those attorneys who exhibit excellence in practice.

Six Greenberg Traurig attorneys were also recognized on the “Top 50 Southwest Super Lawyers” list. They are: Brian H. Blaney, Rebecca L. Burnham, Robert S. Kant, Jeffrey H. Verbin, E. Jeffrey Walsh and Quinn P. Williams.

Three Greenberg Traurig attorneys were included in the Super Lawyers “Top 25 Arizona Women” list. They are: Rebecca Lynne Burnham, Stacey F. Gottlieb and Pamela Overton Risoleo.

More than 60 percent of the attorneys in Greenberg Traurig’s Phoenix office are included in the 2013 ranking. The attorneys named Southwest Super Lawyers include: Gil Rudolph, Jeffrey H. Verbin (Banking), David D. Cleary (Bankruptcy), Brian H. Blaney, Robert S. Kant, Bruce E. Macdonough, Quinn Williams (Corporate/Securities), Michelle De Blasi (Environmental), John E. Cummerford, Jerry Fellows, Frank G. Long (Intellectual Property), Laurent R. G. Badoux (Labor and Employment), Nicole M. Goodwin, Stacey F. Gottlieb, Pamela Overton Risoleo, Brian J. Schulman, Peter W. Sorensen, E. Jeffrey Walsh (Litigation), Rebecca Lynne Burnham, Kevin J. Morris, David M. Paltzik and Lesa J. Storey (Real Estate). Southwest Rising Stars include: Greenberg Traurig attorneys Michael L. Aguirre, Logan V. Miller, Katherine A. Swenson and Jeremy D. Zangara (Corporate/Securities), Kimberly A. Warshawsky (Intellectual Property), Dana L. Hooper, Nathan T. Mitchler, Laura Sixkiller and Tracy L. Weiss (Litigation.)

The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. Super Lawyers Magazine features the list and profiles of selected attorneys and is distributed to attorneys in the state or region and the ABA-accredited law school libraries. Super Lawyers is also published as a special section in leading city and regional magazines across the country. In the United States, Super Lawyers Magazine is published in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., reaching more than 13 million readers.

Michelle De Blasi

2013 Top Lawyers list: Environmental law

Az Business magazine’s 2013 top lawyer list was created after the editorial department asked Arizona law firms to nominate their two best attorneys from 16 different categories for consideration. Those nominees were put on a ballot and were voted on by their peers in the legal community and the readers of Az Business magazine to determine the exclusive 2013 Az Business Magazine Top Lawyers list.

Robert D. Anderson
Fennemore Craig, P.C.
602-916-5455
www.fclaw.com
Anderson practices in the areas of environmental, natural resources and water law and chairs the firm’s natural resources and environmental practice.

Michelle De Blasi
Greenberg Traurig LLP
602-445-8485
www.gtlaw.com
De Blasi advises clients on energy and environmental sustainability, including traditional and renewable energy, climate change, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Carla Consoli
Lewis and Roca LLP
602-262-5347
www.lrlaw.com
The industries which regularly call on Consoli include mines, alternative energy developers, large-scale residential and commercial developers, manufacturers, and investors in these industries.

Peter W. Culp
Squire Sanders
602-528-4063
www.squiresanders.com
Culp practices in the areas of environmental, water and natural resources. Culp was recognized by Chambers USA 2012 as a leading individual for environmental matters, including water rights.

J. Stanton Curry
Gallagher & Kennedy, P.A.
602-530-8222
www.gknet.com
Curry practices environmental law with an emphasis on air quality, Superfund and environmental auditing matters.

Joseph Drazek
Quarles & Brady LLP
602-229-5335
www.quarles.com
Drazek’s practice focuses on regulatory and litigation matters within the Firm’s Environmental Group and spans a variety of industries including mining companies, high technology companies, fenvironmental testing laboratories, and water companies.

Mark Freeze
Steptoe & Johnson LLP
602-257-5215
www.steptoe.com
Freeze is of counsel in Steptoe’s Phoenix office, and has more than 23 years of experience. He practices in the areas of labor and employment law and environmental law.

Karen Gaylor
Jennings, Haug & Cunningham, LLP
602-234-7808
www.jhc-law.com
Gaylord’s practice focuses on environmental and natural resource matters. She has counseled businesses, municipalities, water providers, insurers, and individuals for more than 25 years.

David P. Kimball, III
Gallagher & Kennedy, P.A.
602-530-8130
www.gknet.com
Kimball is head of the firm’s environmental and natural resources department and is recognized nationally as an expert in all areas of federal, state and local environmental and natural resources law.

Mitchell Klein
Polsinelli
602-650-2303
www.polsinelli.com
Klein has extensive experience working with many state and federal agencies in all areas of natural resource and environmental law.

Lucas Narducci
Polsinelli
602-650-2301
polsinelli.com
Narducci’s practice is focused on various aspects of mining, environmental, natural resources, energy, safety and health law, as well as regulatory counseling and permitting, workplace exposure issues, and workplace safety.

Sheryl Sweeney
Ryley Carlock & Applewhite
rcalaw.com
Sweeney practices in the areas of water law, environmental law, electric utility law and special taxing districts. She is chair of the Water, Energy, Resources and Environment practice group at Ryley Carlock.

87665813

Women to watch in healthcare, energy, aerospace and technology

Here are some of the the Arizona innnovators who Az Business magazine thinks will be making waves in healthcare, energy, aerospace and technology in 2013:

Ruth Carter
Owner, Carter Law Firm
carterlawaz.com
Her background: After graduating from ASU Law School in 2011, she opened her own law firm in January 2012 and focused her practice on social media law, intellectual property, business formation and contracts, and flash mob law. She will deliver a talk entitled “Protecting Your Copyrights in Digital Media” at the South By Southwest Interactive (SXSW) in March 2013. She also wrote the book “The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed.”
Fun fact: She was selected as an American Bar Association Legal Rebel in September 2012.
Her goal for 2013: To help entrepreneurs, writers, and artists turn their ideas into reality, to help them push the limits of what’s possible without crossing the line.

Michelle De Blasi
Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig
gtlaw.com
Her background: De Blasi focuses her practice on environmental law, with an emphasis on natural resources matters. She advises local and multi-national clients on energy and environmental sustainability, including the development of traditional and renewable energy power plants, climate change, and greenhouse gas emissions. She is a leader in many community organizations, including serving as the Co-Chair of the Arizona Energy Consortium, which has recently released the Arizona Energy Roadmap to further develop the state’s energy industry.
Fun fact: “I wanted to be an environmental attorney since junior high.  Working for six years at NOAA starting in law school was an amazing way to begin my career.”
Her goal for 2013: “Continue to assist my clients’ growth and expansion, including improving the regulatory and business atmosphere in the areas where they are located.”

MaryAnn Guerra
CEO, BioAccel
bioaccel.org
Her background: BioAccel was named the most promising initiative among the six winners of SSTI’s 2012 Excellence in TBED (technology-based economic development) awards. In three years, BioAccel — whose mission is to transform high-risk technologies into new businesses and high-wage jobs — has supported 11 companies in Arizona, investing more than $4 million directly as well as helping get an additional $15.5 million in downstream funding.
Fun fact: “I love camping outdoors in tents. After gathering wood from the forest, I  build the campfire, cook, then relax under the moonlight — with wine if possible.”
Her goal for 2013: “Personally: spend more time with my husband.  Professionally: expand BioAccel’s overall capacity, validate BioInspire as a model and help launch the BioAccel Accelerator Fund.”

Chevy Humphrey
President and CEO, Arizona Science Center
azscience.org
Her background: She oversees the $8 million operation of Arizona Science Center’s 185,000-square-foot facilities with more than 400 employees and volunteers. She is in line to become the next president of the Association of Science-Technology Centers, an international organization representing science centers and museums with more than 600 members in over 40 countries worldwide. She currently serves as its secretary-treasurer.
Fun fact: Humphrey secured the largest gift in the Center’s history – $3.5 million.
Her goal for 2013: “Maintain excellence as Arizona’s largest provider of informal science education while providing educators with professional development and resources supporting the new common core education standards.”

Mary Juetten
Founder and CEO, Traklight.com
traklight.com
Her background: While earning her JD at ASU, Juetten combined her new knowledge of the law with accounting designations and 25 years of management, business and financial consulting experience to create Traklight.com in 2010.  Traklight is an online software as service company that offers products for inventors, creators, start-up or small companies to identify, secure, and manage their intellectual property to reduce the risk of infringement and IP loss, all without any prior knowledge of IP.
Fun fact: She played ice hockey in Canada and Phoenix.
Her goal for 2013: “I plan to spend more time outside with my husband: golfing and hiking.  Traklight will build upon our October launch and expand nationally in 2013.”

Kim Kundert
Vice president of clinical operations
Clinical Research Advantage
Her background: Kundert received the 2012 Silver Stevie Award — which honors the world’s bets and brightest female entrepreneurs and executives — for Female Executive of the Year in the Business Services category. Kundert has been a driving force behind the rapid growth of CRA, a clinical trial management organization that has helped trial sponsors bring drugs to market more quickly and efficiently.
Fun fact: She was born in Germany on Christmas Day.
Her goal for 2013: “My goal is to open 20 new clinical trial sites.”

Jessica Langbaum
Principal scientist, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute
banneralz.org
Her background: Langbaum is actively involved in research activities focusing on the use of brain imaging for studying the earliest evidence of Alzheimer’s and on the design and execution of preclinical Alzheimer’s treatment trials. Langbaum has published papers in leading scientific journals on cognitive training, brain imaging and Alzheimer’s disease.
Fun fact: Her family has been in Arizona for generations.
Her goal for 2013: “Enroll 100,000 people in our Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry (endALZnow.org/registry), launch the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative (API)/Genentech trial, prepare for the next API-led trial, and potty train my son.”

Paula O’Neal Wichterman
Vice president, medical private banker, National Bank of Arizona
nbarizona.com
Her background: Wichterman is vice president in the Private Bank of National Bank of Arizona. Prior to joining NB|AZ, she spent 9 years in various advisor roles at two other lending institutions in both private banking and credit administration. In her role at NB|AZ, Wichterman is responsible for increasing NB|AZ’s focus on the physician and medical banking market.
Fun fact: “Being the Southern girl that I am, I LOVE to shoot sporting clays. It is a great stress reliever after a long week at work.”
Her goal for 2013: “I want to always inspire my family and friends. I try my best to lead by example. Whether it is at home or at work, I want to be the best that I can be.”

Angela Perez
Partner, Snell & Wilmer
swlaw.com
Her background: Perez is an Arizona native who holds a biology degree from Harvard University and law degree from The University of Arizona. She practices law in the field of business and finance, with special attention to representing clients in the biotechnology industry. Perez represents companies at all stages of their life cycle, from start-up to liquidity. Perez is committed to using her education and experience to improve the strength of Arizona’s economy by facilitating the growth of Arizona’s biotech industry.
Fun fact: Formed Snell & Wilmer’s Bioscience and Healthcare Industry Group shortly after graduating from law school.
Her goal for 2013: “Contribute to the success of my firm and clients by providing sound legal advice; support Arizona’s biotech industry; and shower my young family with love.”

Darcy Renfro
Vice president and coordinator of the Arizona STEM Network, Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz)
sfaz.org
Her background: Renfro is leading the way for Arizona’s STEM — science, technology, engineering, math — education initiatives. She spearheaded the development of SFAz’s Arizona STEM Network, a first-of-its-kind strategic effort to help transform Arizona’s educational system. The Network will help teachers and students prepare for the state-adopted, internationally benchmarked Common Core Standards, higher-education and careers that will help ensure our state remains globally competitive.
Fun fact: Arizona is just one of 16 states in the U.S. with developing or existing STEM Networks.
Her goal for 2013: “Increase the access and quality of STEM opportunities for Arizona’s students and teachers to inspire excitement and achievement in math and science.”

Virginia Rybski
President and CEO, Regenesis Biomedical, Inc.
regenesisbio.com
Her background: Rybski has combined 35 years of experience founding, building and growing emerging bioscience companies by developing and launching numerous advanced-technology, healthcare related products. She strategically positioned the company as a regenerative medicine business; raised $5.3 million in capital; has grows sales for 8 consecutive years; and helped it earn a position on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America in 2012.
Fun fact:
Her goal for 2013: “Focus on improving patient care, and helping to provide better patient outcomes while lowering the overall cost of care. Healthcare, now more than ever, needs collaboration between providers, patients, and manufacturers like Regenesis, to help rein in spiraling costs.”

Joyce Schroeder
Chief science officer, Arizona Cancer Therapeutics
arizonacancertherapeutics.com
Her background: Schroeder, program co-leader in Cancer Biology and Genetics at the Arizona Cancer Center, is moving toward clinical trials for breast cancer treatment that inhibits metastatic breast cancer growth at cellular level and it is non-toxic. In layman’s terms, this could block breast cancer growth without the toxic side effects of chemotherapy. She is also associate professor of molecular and cellular biology at the University of Arizona.
Fun fact: She is an avid Stephen King reader and loves Star Wars.
Her goal for 2013: “My goal for 2013 is to get our breast cancer drug approved by the FDA to be given to patients.”

Lori Singleton
Manager of Sustainability Initiatives and Technologies, SRP
srpnet.com
Her background: Singleton’s primary focus at SRP is environmental and renewable energy issues. Under her direction, SRP has provided incentives to more than 12,000 customers who have installed solar energy systems on their homes and businesses. In addition, she is an active volunteer and effective advocate serving on the boards of Audubon of Arizona and the National Solar Energy Power Association.
Fun fact: “Ballroom dancing is my passion. For me, it not only helps keep me physically fit but allows me to focus on something other than looming deadlines and work projects.”
Her goal for 2013: “As a Valley Forward board member, I will work to promote environmental quality statewide, elevate our state’s image and drive balanced policy as the organization evolves into Arizona Forward.”

Joy Seitz
Vice president of business and policy development, American Solar
americanpv.com
Her background: Since joining Scottsdale-based American Solar in 2009, Seitz has been a leading advocate for Arizona’s solar industry, making her presence felt everywhere that decisions are made about solar energy — city halls, Salt River Project and the Arizona Corporation Commission. Her company has designed and installed solar electric for more than 3,500 customers and created partnership with homebuilders including Shea Homes and AV Homes.
Fun fact: “I am a proud ASU West Campus graduate from the School of Global Management and Leadership, with an emphasis in finance.”
Her goal for 2013: “To put the power of solar energy into the hand of every homeowner. It is time that every Arizona homeowner understands that they can control what energy powers their home.”

Lois Wardell
Principal, Arapahoe SciTech
arapahost.com
Her background: Wardell’s technology focus includes unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and associated sensor technologies.  By developing partnerships with other innovators, she has been able to tackle technical challenges in emerging fields such as those in polar science. One example is a sterilization system for an ice drill that will access an Antarctic sub-glacial lake below a half-mile of ice to explore this unknown frontier on our planet.
Fun fact: Wardell has worked on all seven continents.
Her goal for 2013: “My goals include continued development of technology for exploration (both Earth and beyond) and to increase my focus on outreach activities to inspire students.”

srp installs solar energy systems

Energy Consortium’s Roadmap puts state of path to build industry

Imagine Arizona as the energy hub of the Southwest — where major regional transmission lines tie into infrastructure in the state and serve a growing regional demand for energy. Arizona would be a place where an increasing percentage of jobs are related to the energy industry, whether in manufacturing, generation, transmission, energy efficiency, service or technology innovation. Many of these jobs would be higher-wage jobs requiring a skilled labor force fed by Arizona’s schools and universities. Arizona could be a hub of energy-sector jobs, with factories making equipment for the industry and power plants shipping electricity to neighboring states via new power lines, all contributing to a better economy.

That is the essence of the Arizona Energy Consortium’s Energy Roadmap, which the group hopes with be a catalyst for the state’s energy industry in the same way Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap helped the state increase bioscience jobs by 41 percent and helped increase the number of bioscience establishments by 27 percent during its 10-year plan.

“It was important to create this document to give the energy industry a unified voice and direction,” said said Michelle De Blasi, co-chair of the AEC and a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig. “The energy industry is going to be here forever. We are always going to need energy. So the Roadmap was designed to make the industry better for everyone — consumers, developers, legislators. So it was critical that we get it right.”

This is the vision the Roadmap hopes to realize over the next decade: Arizona is the energy hub of the Southwest, with a diverse energy mix supporting reliable transmission, a strong base of manufacturing facilities, increased numbers of higher wage jobs, and world-class research institutions, resulting in increased economic development for the state and region.

Once that vision is realized, De Blasi said the state can expect to reap these benefits:
• Enhanced job creation and higher-wage jobs within Arizona
• Increased state economic revenue
• Enhanced energy export potential
• Heightened energy self-sufficiency and national and state security
• Increased transmission reliability
• Continued low cost energy

“This Roadmap is going to help Arizona be looked at differently from outside its borders,” said Chris Davey, co-chair with De Blasi of the AEC and president of EnviroMission, which is developing a solar tower in Western Arizona. “The Roadmap will create a sense of certainty, which appeals to the finance community. So when they are looking to invest, that certainty creates a more attractive environment for developers and investors.”

Davey and De Blasi said they will be rolling out the Roadmap this year, presenting it to groups throughout the state. For more information on the Roadmap, visit aztechcouncil.org.

ROADMAP CONTRIBUTORS

Arizona Commerce Authority
Arizona Governor’s Office of Energy Policy
Arizona Public Service
Bridge Strategy Group
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck
City of Mesa, the Office of the Mayor
Cleantech Open
Dircks
DIRTT
DMB Associates
Energy Services Coalition
EnviroMission
Faithful+Gould
Greater Phoenix Economic Council
Greenberg Traurig
The Green Chamber – Greater Phoenix
Golder Associates
Hensel Phelps
Ikoloji
Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals
J.D. Porter & Associates
Kolbe Connect
Matthew McDonnell
Ormond Group, LLC
RG Schmelzer, Inc.
Salt River Project
Stream Energy
Tucson Electric Power
Valley Forward
Valley Partnership

2012 Valley Partnership Roundtable

2012 Valley Partnership Roundtable

The 2012 Valley Partnership Roundtable discusses the need to engage and monitor federal issues impacting the development community, which is greater than ever. 

Every real estate development company actively manages issues such as water quality, dust control and industry taxation/regulation at the city and state level. However, we must be more vigilant in watching the impact of federal regulation on the real estate industry. Decisions made by the federal agencies and our Congressional delegation have a  long-term impact on our businesses.

As a sector, we have a responsibility to advocate for fair and pragmatic regulation that allows the industry to be nimble and grow responsibly. Federal regulation and oversight have expanded over the past few years and some of these expansions in oversight could negatively impact Arizona businesses. Arizona’s climate, employment bases and natural resources pose unique challenges on the federal level, and we must ensure that our delegation is prepared to fight for our state’s future.

As it celebrates its 25th anniversary, Valley Partnership, in conjunction with AZRE magazine, convened a virtual roundtable discussion on the need to engage and monitor federal and state issues that impact the development community. They include:

  • Expansion of the Clean Water Act;
  • Business taxes/workforce training credits/research and development tax credits
  • Military installations, including Luke Air Force Base;
  • Solar incentives;
  • Aerospace/defense industry, research.

Participants are members of Valley Partnership’s federal and legislative committees, including: Rob Anderson (RA), Fennemore Craig; Paul Hickman (PH), Arizona Bankers Association; Charley Freericks (CF), DMB Associates, Inc.; Rusty Mitchell (RM), Luke AFB; Mary Peters (MP), consultant, former secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation; Grady Gammage JR. (GG), Gammage & Burnham; and Michelle de Blasi (MD), Quarles & Brady.

- Karrin Taylor, DMB Associates Inc.

Q: The federal government’s growing regulation of water, environment issues and endangered species has an immediate effect on private property owners and at the state and local levels. In the Western U.S., there can be tremendous unintended consequences to these one-size-fits-all regulations promulgated in Washington. What are the risks and/or potential impacts for the development community?

GG: There are huge risks for Arizona development in ignoring federal issues. We tend to either rail at the Feds, or just hope they’ll go away. The truth is, neither attitude is useful. We need our federal representatives to vigorously engage in explaining things that seem obvious to us: like dry desert washes not being navigable, or the fact that Arizona tends to be dusty. But we need to recognize that there is an appropriate federal role in environmental regulation, rather than behave as though the EPA will go away.

RA: The risks for the development community are three-fold: Increased compliance costs; increased uncertainties associated with securing federal approval (Well will I get my permit? What will my project look like when I do?); and the possibility that the federal requirements will actually block you from developing at all. The first two risks are fairly pervasive in the development world already. The third risk is relatively rare but increasing, particularly in the area of endangered species where there is tremendous pressure to list more species and protect more habitats. We also may see more of this as the first two risks grow and become unmanageable. For example, if I do not know when I can get my permit, and do not know what my project will look like at the end of the permitting process, how can I get financing or raise capital to do the project at all?

Q: What can we (leaders in real estate) do to influence federal regulation and legislation?

MD: Consistency and certainty in policy is crucial to develop and sustain any industry. It is difficult to have certainty without having an energy policy in place. Some immediate initiatives that could provide certainty in the energy industry are: Build out/improve access to transmission; remove redundancy/inefficiencies in permitting; expand production-based incentives; and provide better/quicker access to federal land for project development.

GG: The real estate industry needs to come together with workable solutions on things like dust control of construction, and standards for developing in the desert that recognize circumstances where washes should be preserved or mass grading minimized. Constructive engagement means offering sensible alternatives for some federal involvement, that is climate and geography appropriate for the arid West. There’s a lot of of serious expertise in Arizona in dealing with these issues. The development industry will find that Arizona’s cities are valuable allies in understanding the nature of development here, and why it is different from many other parts of the country.

RA: Follow regulatory developments through agencies of concern (EPA, the Corps of Engineers) and follow legislation through Congress. Do not hesitate to contact your congressman or congresswoman on issues of concern. Be active in trade associations that lobby in Washington D.C.

CF: Real estate industry leaders and everyone in the community have many options for supporting Luke and the effort to secure the F-35 mission. First, participate in the Luke Forward campaign by registering your support (lukeforward.com), submit a letter from your company or community support organization, and spread the word by sending the link for Luke Forward to your colleagues and friends Second, participate in the upcoming public hearings for the F-35 mission Environmental Impact Study (EIS) process. Dates, times and locations will be posted on the website to visibly show your support to the community and government representatives. Finally, write or email your local, state and federal elected officials and state your support for the F-35 mission.

PH: Stay engaged. Coordinate multiple visit to members of Congress and agency officials. Be active on responding to requests for comments on proposed regultions. Create “echo chambers” on issues of vital importance to our state.

Our western state is rich in space, most of which is managed by some form of government (Fed/state/military/tribal). This requires our real estate development industry to engage in public/private partnerships. Our only alternative is not to grow our economy.

Q: There has been significant scrutiny on federal and state incentives of certain industries recently. How do you think those incentives have impacted the Arizona job and real estate markets? Are the incentives needed to jump-start an industry and spur growth? Are they worth the risks?

MP: I am generally opposed to public-funded incentives that tend to distort the market. If a determination is made that public interest is best served by advancing an issue, the better way to proceed is to focus on the desired outcome rather than a specific technology. In terms of developing alternative fuels for vehicles, for example, the outcome might be to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Current policy provides public subsidies as an incentive to produce ethanol, and the subsidies are provided largely to mid-west, corn producing states. The process used by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that encourages competition toward an outcome-based goal is far better than offering specific incentives. Arizona businesses and entrepreneurs could be very competitive in a DARPA-like competition resulting in more Arizona jobs and real estate development.

MD: Incentives are necessary to help spur growth and develop infrastructure that benefits society as a whole, but should be implemented in such a way that they reward success. The incentive provides the carrot, but should not provide the fuel as was the case with Solyndra. Incentives provide the necessary framework to foster economic development — job creation. Just as Arizona was feeling the effects of a downturn in the real estate market, the incentives available to the renewable energy industry helped spur the grow of a burgeoning industry for Arizona. As more projects have come to fruition, the economy has felt the impacts through the transitioning of jobs and the influx of investment in renewable generation and manufacturing. However, as an industry and state, one needs to be careful not to incentivize an industry that will not survive into the future without incentives.

Q: The debate around “earmarks” and “pork” projects continues at the federal level. Some of Arizona’s federal delegation have earned national reputations for their stand against earmarks. What are the benefits or the losses to Arizona on this issue? Should Arizona’s federal delegation work to bring federal dollars back to our community? What kinds of projects does Arizona need?

MP: When members of Congress designate special projects as part of authorizing or appropriation bills powerful committee chairs are able to direct disproportionate amounts of funding to their district or state regardless of the merits of the project. The so-called “Bride to Nowhere” in the 2005 Highway Bill is a prime example. I think, on the whole, Arizona and other states lose in this process, and our delegation is right to take a stand against earmarks. A better way is for Congress to give the states their proportionate share of funding, and let state and local officials working with our Congressional Delegation decide how and where the funds should be spent. Arizona could then use those funds to build transportation in infrastructure to support high-growth areas, such as the north-sout corridor in Pinal County.

GG: We couldn’t live in Central Arizona without federal projects. Both SRP and CAP are examples of using the Treasury of the Unites States to make it possible to live in the arid West. Sky Harbor Airport and the interstate highway system are other examples. We should not oppose the use of federal dollars for these kinds of purposes. The evil of “earmarks” is when ad hoc projects (I think “Bride to Nowhere”) are slipped into unrelated bills without any debate or being part of a comprehensive program. Our senators and congressmen shouldn’t oppose the use of federal funds for worthy projects in Arizona. They should oppose a process that disguises federal spending, that doesn’t invite public scrutiny, or that trades frivolous projects in one district for similar boondoggles elsewhere.

PH: We expect our members of Congress to fight for parochial projects that make sense. What some members of our congressional delegation object to — properly in my view — is skirting the competitive process to do that. The losses incurred by the practice of earmarking redound to us as federal taxpayers, not necessarily Arizonans. When we engage in it we may win projects for our state, but as federal taxpayers we probably paid too much inferior projects or products.

We should be working with out congressional delegation as well as the applicable federal agencies to get out projects included into the agency budgets, authorized by the congressional authorization committees and approved by the members of the appropriations committees. We also need to partner with the global growth sectors of our economy: healthcare, energy, aerospace, and high-tech manufacturing. If this crash of 2008 has taught us anything it is that the residential housing industry can’t drive an economy by itself. It has to have other sectors to support or it collapses.

Q: The Arizona Commerce Authority and local economic development groups such as GPEC have prioritized a number of industries for expansion and growth. Aerospace/defense, technology and the solar industry seem to be major opportunities for Arizona’s future. What role should leaders of the real estate development industry play at the federal level in working to support these business expansion efforts?

MP: The ACA has defined aerospace/defense, solar/renewable energy, science and technology, and Arizona innovation-small businesses and entrepreneurs as our four focus areas. The areas provide the biggest opportunity to attract and retain high paying jobs and sustainable economic development for our state. The real estate development community can help support these focus areas by working together with organizations like ACA and GPEC to let out congressional delegation know when we are competing for federal funds and programs. An example is the funding now available under the Defense Appropriations Act in which the FAA will select sites for testing UAVs. The real estate development community can also assist in redeveloping areas such as the Williams Gateway and in ensuring that growth complements, but does not encroach on, our current military installations such as Luke AFB.

MD: The message has to be clear and provide certainty for foster meaningful industry growth. For the energy sector, the growth plan needs to be inclusive of a portfolio of energy resources. The support for renewable energy at the federal level needs to be based on a broad array of goals: jobs, diversity of energy sources, national security and economic development. The industry leaders should be advocating for production-based or back-end incentives where there are metrics requiring a certain level of project development to better ensure the long-term success of the industry.

Q: Arizona has long enjoyed the benefits of having major military installations, such as Luke Air Force Base, as part of our economic base. These installations create and sustain thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic impact. What are the potential risks and rewards with selection of Arizona for the F-35 mission?

CF: The rewards are numerous — thousands of highly trained, educated and well-paid employees continue to thrive in the West Valley; billions of dollars in annual economic impact continue to flow into Arizona’s economy; and the community around Luke is bolstered by the consumption of goods and services from this amazing economic engine and the positive community contributions from the people of Luke. The mission for this advanced aircraft will sustain Luke for decades to come.

The risks as minimal, but important to keep in context. The military is subject to the ebbs and flows of federal military investment and resting after securing the F-35 mission would be a critical error. The state, especially those communities closest to Luke, have grown accustomed to, even dependent on, having Luke as a major employer and economic driver. As the West Valley continues to grow and evolve, it is critical to keep the economic development focus on highly-educated, high-income employment and to continue diversifying the number and types of industries represented. The risk of reductions in Luke’s mission are always a factor to be considered; and, the best solution will be a strong and diverse regional economy.

RM: If Luke AFB is selected as the second PTC, it is conceivable that it would remain a valuable national asset and an incomparable economic engine for decades to come.

The most recent study (commissioned by the state of Arizona) of Luke’s economic impact was approximately $2.17B. However,  beyond the pure dollars involved, the men and women of Luke AFB are significant contributors to the surrounding community as school and church leaders, business participants as well as stable homeowners for the community. These men and women should be viewed not only as part of the economic engine, but equally as important, quality community participants and leaders.

For more information on Valley Partnership visit, valleypartnership.org

AZRE Magazine March/April 2012

Environmental Legal Issues - AZ Business Magazine November/December 2011

Arizona Faces Environmental Legal Issues To Grow ‘Green’ Movement

Though Arizona may be working to reach a higher standard of sustainability, a myriad of environmental legal issues will be seen as these changes are implemented. Arizona Business Magazine spoke with the state’s top law firms and industry experts to find out the most important environmental legal issues the state can expect to face in the next decade.

Particulate Matter-10

Attorney Megan Lennox of Bryan Cave LLP says, “The single biggest environmental legal issue Arizona will be facing for the foreseeable future is the regulation, implementation and enforcement of regulations concerning Particulate Matter-10, also referred to as PM-10, which is essentially “dust.”’

According to an Aug. 25, 2011, press release by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality stressing a high pollution advisory: “State and county agencies measure PM-10 and PM-2.5 which are extremely small solid particles and liquid droplets found circulating in the air. PM, or particulate matter, comes from either combustion (cars, industry, woodburning) or dust stirred up into the air. High levels of PM are typically created when the air is especially stagnant or especially windy. PM-10 stands for particulate matter measuring 10 microns or less. PM-2.5 stands for particulate matter measuring 2.5 microns or less. To put this in perspective, one strand of human hair is 70-100 microns in size.”

“Over the summer, we saw a number of High Pollution Advisory (HPA) warnings issued by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) relating to PM-10, particularly in connection with the haboobs (dust storms) we’ve been having in the Valley this summer,” Lennox says. “But what is not as commonly known is that, even without a haboob, Arizonans face real health threats caused by common everyday dust generating activities.

“Indeed, the EPA has not been satisfied with what the Arizona has done in the way of dust control thus far, and because Arizona continues to exceed federal air quality standards for PM-10, we are now facing a very real possibility that the EPA will push the Arizona regulators aside and step in with their own plan to reduce PM-10.

“The real issue of concern is that, if the EPA is required to step in, Arizona will stand to lose over a billion dollars in federal highway funds,” Lennox says. “This translates to further loss of jobs, no new transportation projects, and likely intense regulation and economic impact to the construction industry — all of which will be decidedly detrimental to Arizona’s economy overall.”

Lennox says that Arizonans must prepare and prevent this from happening by doing their part, which includes refraining from leaf blowers, no fires in the fireplace, driving down dusty roads and joining forces with regulators “toward the common goal of reduction of PM-10 and maintenance of federal funding – both of which, everyone should be able to agree, are critical for the long-term health and prosperity of the Valley.”

Michelle De Blasi, partner at Quarles & Brady agrees: “Serious nonattainment areas must demonstrate PM-10 emission reductions of five percent per year until the standard is attained.  The state and local governments have instituted many measures to make these reductions.  To reach attainment, three years of clean data are needed at all PM-10 monitors… The state and local governments have instituted many proactive control measures to try to limit excesses at the monitors caused by dust.”

Utility Deregulation

As the state continues to develop renewable energy, several legal issues can arise. Court Rich, an attorney at Rose Law Group states that: “As renewable energy prices come down its implementation will grow quicker.  At some point the technology involved in distributed roof top solar energy is going to allow people not only to produce energy during the day but to store energy for power at night.”

If people are able to produce the energy they need, should they pay a utility company for its electricity service? These are the types of questions Arizona may face as renewable energy production grows.

“The State has previously looked into forms of utility deregulation…(and) could review forms of deregulation that may set up a better environment for future competition among energy providers ultimately providing lower cost electricity to all Arizonans and providing greater choices to the consumer,” Rich adds.

Balancing environmental protections with economic impacts

“Implementing more protective environmental regulations must be balanced with their economic impacts,” says Matt Bingham, attorney at Lewis and Roca.

Sometimes, small improvements that can be made come at a significant cost and may not be worthwhile for the state to pursue.

“(Government) agencies have accomplished A LOT since environmental laws were first enacted,” says Bingham, “but at some point, the costs of making further improvement are going to outweigh the benefits.  Agencies need to adequately consider industry’s concerns when developing stricter environmental standards to ensure that the benefits outweigh the costs.  Failing to do so will prolong Arizona’s economic recovery.”

Growth of renewable energy

“In Arizona, regulated utilities are expected to get 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025 (in 2011, the goal is 3 percent),” says Bingham, attorney at Lewis and Roca. “This will require a massive expansion of our renewable energy capabilities over the next 10-15 years.”

As Arizona tries to catch up on renewable energy growth compared with some of its sustainability-driven neighboring states, many environmental impacts will need to be addressed. These include land use, water use, and effects on wildlife, endangered species and several others.

“The growth of renewable energy in the state also involves policy choices by the legislature and the Arizona Corporation Commission,” says Bingham.

Some examples:
➢    Requiring utilities to procure renewable energy.
➢    Increasing demand for solar by providing incentives.
➢    Providing tax incentives for companies who locate manufacturing and other facilities in the state and create jobs.

Arizona has essentially decided that it wants to be a hub of the growing solar industry and has made some good moves in that direction but it needs to continue pursuing an effective, comprehensively designed strategy while assuring companies that this support will not fade,” Bingham adds.

Enforcement of regulatory policies:

Since 61 percent of land in Arizona is either managed or controlled by federal agencies, many policies involving land use have a disproportionate impact upon our state, says Jeff Littell, principal geologist at Brown & Caldwell.

“By far, the greatest environmental issues facing Arizona will arise from federal agencies and their imbalanced enforcement of existing regulatory policies or the increased promulgation of new rules and regulations,” Littell says.

The state should apply balanced and measured responses to difficult environmental issues while empowering state agencies and the Legislature to defend Arizona against misapplied federal actions, Littell adds. “The results of their interaction with county and state agencies will have a profound impact on the long term success of Arizona, the diversity of our economy, and our ability to emerge from the current economic situation.”

For more information about environmental legal issues and other environmental issues, visit www.valleyforward.org.

 

Arizona Business Magazine November/December 2011