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Tribe Cites "Global Impact" of NV Coal Plant Measure

June 5, 2013

LAS VEGAS - Few know the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant better than its closest neighbors, and the Moapa Band of Paiutes is applauding a bipartisan bill that will end Nevada's use of power from the plant.

Vernon Lee, who serves on the band's environmental committee, predicts the legislation now headed for the governor's desk will have environmental and health implications far beyond the Silver State.

"Even though Reid Gardner is a small power station, it's a global thing," Lee said. "The burning of fossil fuels is really killing the planet, and this is a help."

Lee says Senate Bill 123 not only ends Nevada's use of the coal power from Reid Gardner, but also mandates another 350 megawatts of renewable energy for the state. Gov. Brian Sandoval has indicated he supports the measure.

Vickie Simmons, who chairs the tribe's environmental committee and also is a member of its Health Board, said this measure was sorely needed.

"It really makes a difference that this plant be closed down, because of how many years we have suffered with this pollution, for over 50 years," she said. "We can't take it as a people; we have high rates of asthma, heart and lung disease, and cancer; our children are all suffering from asthma."

Lee said the best case is that the air could be cleaner for his tribe in about a decade, but added that many will never recover from living so close to the coal plant.

"There's a lot of chromiums and heavy metals and leads and acids and aerosols," Lee said. "The effects of that are irreversible - at least, on a lot of it."

The Sierra Club was among a diverse coalition of groups that joined the Nevada tribe in supporting SB 123 and the closure of Reid Gardner. The bill calls for shutting down the plant in phases, with all generators closed by 2017.

The text of SB 123 is online at openstates.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV