Saturday’s horrific shooting has shone the spotlight on Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, but it’s important not to let the devastating event overshadow the extraordinary work she has done to protect and serve our environment. Rep. Giffords’ environmental efforts were made clear right at the start of her first term in 2006 representing the sunniest part of the nation. Her website states Solar is one of the greatest opportunities Arizona has ever seen,” and she immediately made good on that opportunity by introducing the Solar Energy Research and Advancement Act of 2007. With her work in the House Committee on Science and Technology and various land stewardship initiatives, she has focused on the environment as a cornerstone of her leadership.

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In four short years in congress she has been an enormous boost for Arizona’s environment and future. She co-sponsored a bill to expand the Saguaro National Park Boundary and led the effort in mitigating the environmental damage of the installation of the border fence, a sensitive subject in her district which shares a 114 mile border with Mexico. She has also focused on efforts to stop destructive mining and protect Arizona’s rivers and streams. As Vice Chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, her largest efforts have been in developing solar as a viable alternative energy source by advocating for its development and implementation. Her interest in solar technology has only grown, as evidenced by her blog Solar A to Z. “Solar is serious energy … all this industry needs is the right policies to help it take root and thrive.” She has a solar array on her own home and her solar web page has much more.

Rep. Giffords’ Solar Energy Research and Advancement Act of 2007 is not just an effort to slap some solar panels on roof tops but provides millions of dollars in grants for a myriad of solar research projects including daylighting systems and direct solar light pipe technology, a solar air conditioning research and development program, concentrating solar power commercial application studies, and a thermal energy storage research and development program.

We wish her and her family the best, and mourn those who have been killed and injured in what amounts to an attack on all of us.

+ Congressional Representative Gabrielle Giffords

Lead Photo Arizona State University