AZ House OKs secrecy for environmental reports
Under the measure headed to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, environmental audits generally could not be used as evidence in civil cases.
But the legislation does not provide outright immunity. Businesses still would be subject to sanctions for environmental violations spotted by regulators. And the new legal privilege would not apply in criminal cases.
Supporters say the plan encourages recent purchasers of property and others to investigate potential pollution problems.
Critics say it would allow secrecy without providing any likely benefit to the environment.
More than a dozen other states have similar laws. Most of those laws were enacted in the 1990s when then-Gov. Fife Symington vetoed an Arizona version.
The House approved the Republican-sponsored bill Monday on a 39-15 vote along party lines. It was approved previously by the Senate on a nearly party line vote.
Democratic Rep. Ed Ableser of Tempe opposed the bill, saying during the House vote that it
“provides a shield of secrecy for the bad actors” and that it essentially will allow companies to get away with “pollution and corrupt behavior.”