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Groups Push for Votes on NV Renewable-Energy, Public-Lands Bills

The Nevada state Capitol is busy this week, as the deadline for bills to pass out of committee is Friday. (OK-59/Wikimedia Commons)
The Nevada state Capitol is busy this week, as the deadline for bills to pass out of committee is Friday. (OK-59/Wikimedia Commons)
April 10, 2019

CARSON CITY, Nev. - Friday is the deadline for bills to make it out of committee at the state Capitol, so conservation groups are drumming up support for those that address renewable energy and protection for wildlife habitat.

Senate Bill 358 would require power companies to get 50 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2030. Brian Beffort, director of the Sierra Club's Toiyabe Chapter, said the state now spends $4 billion a year importing electricity from fossil fuels, when it could be relying on renewable power generated in Nevada.

"We have such abundant solar and geothermal, and even some wind resources," he said. "And by developing these resources, we'll be able to keep those billions of dollars here in the state working for our economy, and cleaning up the air and the water in our communities in the process."

The bill currently is before the Senate Government and Infrastructure Committee, but is expected to get a floor vote soon. Opponents say it could unfairly tie the hands of utilities and might lead to higher rates. Supporters say renewable energy is key to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions linked to climate change.

The Sierra Club also is supporting two Assembly Joint Resolutions, opposing military expansions on public land near Naval Air Station Fallon and at the Nellis Training and Test Range. Beffort said that project would hurt bighorn sheep in the Desert National Wildlife Refuge.

"It just seems like a whole lot of overreach and a massive military land grab," he said, "and if the military gets their way, it will turn into a bombing range. To me, habitat and wildlife and bombing ranges don't go well together."

The Navy has said the current site near Fallon is too small for its training needs.

Conservation groups also want the Legislature to pass resolutions opposing plans by the Interior Department to fold the Nevada office of the Bureau of Land Management into a larger, regional office, and to reopen negotiations on sage-grouse protections.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV