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Clean Energy Summit Sparks Protests on Jobs, Tribal Health

August 7, 2012

LAS VEGAS - Nevada is once again host to the national Clean Energy Summit, but this year one of the state's coal-fired power plants is drawing protests. Nevada is among the states with the most to gain from clean energy, according to Barbara Boyle, senior policy advisor, Clean Energy Campaign for the Sierra Club. That's why she says protestors will be up bright and early to take a stand against coal-fired power in the Silver State.

"Nevada has done a lot to train workers in implementing clean energy, both in efficiency and in installing solar. Shutting down this coal plant and replacing it with clean energy would help to give those folks jobs and help to boost our economy."

Nevada Energy operates the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant, one of the oldest in the country, and they say they have spent millions to address environmental concerns. Protestors plan to gather in front of the Bellagio Fountains to call attention to the issue.

Vernon Lee, a member of the environmental committee of the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians, says recent studies indicate the coal-fired power plant is linked to $28 million in health care costs per year. He says his tribe, which is located right next door, is especially hard hit.

"We're a damaged people. That stuff is irreversible; you know, there's neurological things that happen, kids have nosebleeds, everybody has asthma. There's a whole gamut of various types of illnesses: that's across the board."

The tribe has been authorized to build the first major solar plant on tribal land. Lee says they won't be the only ones to benefit, because recent studies show Nevada consumers would save up to $59 million if the coal plant's retirement date is moved up to 2013.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV