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renzimug2.jpgU.S. Rep. Rick Renzi [R-District 1] says the new Democratic-controlled Congress means there are new opportunities to pass legislation good for the environment.

By Greg Ruland
Larson Newspapers

U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi [R-District 1] says the new Democratic-controlled Congress means there are new opportunities to pass legislation good for the environment.

For Renzi, that means tax incentives for high-mileage electric cars and water-efficient buildings.

In Sedona, it could mean support for a federal law designating the federal forest land surrounding Sedona as a National Scenic Area, but only if the Sedona City Council passes a resolution in support of the legislation, Renzi said.

The NSA designation has long been a goal of Keep Sedona Beautiful and other local environmental groups, according to KSB President Barbara Litrell.

The NSA designation would restrict land swaps inside 160,000 acres of Coconino National Forest land that surrounds Sedona, discouraging private development in those areas, Litrell said.

A bill drafted with the help of staff from Renzi?s office and the office of U.S. Sen. John McCain [R] has not yet been introduced in Congress.

Renzi said he?s hesitant to push ahead with the NSA bill without the City Council?s backing.

Sedona City Councilman Rob Adams, an NSA supporter, said the council withdrew the NSA legislation as a council priority last year.

?I think the council?s already made their statement,? Adams said.

Adams said there?s been no discussion about the bill since the new council took office.

Adams said he sensed the Greater Sedona community generally supports the NSA law, but wording changes could make the difference on the council.

Adams said the bill should be changed to make clear that Sedona would be able to engage in a U.S. Forest Service land swap to build roads, schools and other municipal structures.

?I think it?s all about wording,? Adams said. ?I think they?re real close.?

Adams said the council probably wouldn?t take up the NSA legislation unless it believes the law has widespread support in the community.

Litrell recently sought support from the Cottonwood City Council, but Renzi said he needs to hear from the Sedona council before he will act.

Renzi said he fears the NSA law could have ?unintended consequences,? like limiting the ability of constituents to get out and enjoy the wilderness through Jeep tours and on bicycles.

Renzi said he is willing to discuss the NSA law with community representatives on both sides of the issue.

On other environmental topics, Renzi said he currently supports a tax credit that would encourage commercial builders to incorporate water reclamation systems into new structures like roof collectors and gray water tanks to recycle used water.

?There?s a new sheriff in town,? he said. ?With the Democrats in control, there?s new opportunities? for environmental legislation.

Renzi said he is co-sponsor of a law this term that would require federal buildings to be more energy and water efficient.

He said he also plans to support legislation that would provide tax incentives to consumers who buy electric cars.

Renzi said he favors a tax credit that would allow consumers to deduct the cost of electric cars ?right off the top,? reducing the amount of the consumer?s income that can be federally taxed.


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