(A video of the virtual event can be watched here.)
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Last night, the Nevada Conservation League hosted a virtual event with the Nevada Conservation Network coalition members and state legislators, Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, Senator Chris Brooks, and Assemblyman Howard Watts III, to announce its ambitious policy agenda for the 2021 state legislative session.
The Nevada Conservation Network, a diverse coalition of conservation and climate-minded organizations, rolled out a strong list of legislative priorities focused on mining revenue reform, reducing smog emissions, preserving and protecting wildlife habitats, and increasing clean energy opportunities in Nevada. The full list of Nevada Conservation Network’s legislative priorities can be found here.
During the event, the Nevada Conservation League spoke to Nevada voters’ overwhelming support for climate action policies and the need for legislators to act quickly, citing recent polling data.
“82 percent of voters in the state consider climate change to be a serious problem. Additionally, 64 percent support Nevada lawmakers taking strong action to combat climate change, driven by a belief that such action will have a positive impact on future generations, health, and the economy. Nevadans understand the threat of the climate crisis and our leaders must take action to mitigate its harmful effects on our communities before it’s too late,” said Nevada Conservation League Deputy Director Verna Mandez. “The 2021 state legislative session is one of our best opportunities to take on the climate crisis with forward-thinking policies that will safeguard Nevada’s water, air, people, and lands for years to come. We are fortunate to have remarkable environmental advocates in our state government and we call on other elected leaders to listen to Nevadans and meet this pivotal moment by taking bold and aggressive stances on climate policy.”
The Nevada legislators discussed upcoming conservation-centered policies, the severe impact of the climate crisis on our state, and their unique position as a lawmaker to ensure a sustainable future during the 2021 legislative session.
“We know that Nevada has an abundance of natural energy, both in the form of wind and certainly in the form of sunshine. And so the better that we can utilize that to not only make sure that we are taking climate change seriously, and that we are tackling that head-on, but also to help us as a state move into a more diverse economy, in someplace where we are going to be building jobs for the future. I think that’s really such a unique opportunity we have, and I think you’re seeing exactly where our policies are meeting that opportunity and where we are going to really be able to capitalize on that and help change Nevada for the better,” said Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro.
“But we can do this, even in the midst of a pandemic, even in the midst of a massive economic downturn, we can take advantage of this legislative session to move the ball forward on climate and also create jobs — good-paying jobs — and tax revenues. I think all of these things can live together, and we can achieve all of the goals at the same time,” said Senator Chris Brooks.
“I am really excited to see what we can do to protect our special places and to make sure we have protections in place for our air, our water, and really that we take a focus on equity in our approach to these issues as well, making sure that we are engaging the voices of Indigenous communities who have been here for countless generations, making sure that we are addressing some of the health, economic and other access disparities that communities of color have faced that are related to environmental conservation issues. That is something I am really passionate about, as well as the Senators who just spoke — taking action on climate change,” said Assemblyman Howard Watts III.
Members of the Nevada Conservation Network provided an overview of the pro-conservation legislation being introduced this session, including smog reduction, mining revenue reform, responsible energy planning, energy efficiency reform, and wildlife consideration in development plans. The Network represents the multi-faceted conservation efforts happening in every corner of the state.
We like the idea of identifying funds for programs that help low-income customers repair their polluting vehicles or replacing them with cleaner versions… We need to start talking about that because oftentimes when we talk about electric vehicles, we forget about our communities — low-income communities and communities of color because we do not have access to these vehicles on the go,” said Chispa Nevada Program Director Rudy Zamora.
“Having significantly more money coming into our budget from that industry does provide an opportunity for other conversations to be had… For sustainability long term, this is one thing that I am excited about these bills. In the short term they are addressing these really serious issues with our budget crisis, and long term if we’re bringing in more revenue from this industry there is a possibility to reinvest in our rural communities for non-extractive industries in ways that can move us away from polluting and destructive industries and better protect these special spaces that we all depend on for our life,” said Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada Mining Justice Organizer Ian Bigley.
“Nevada really needs to do three things to get to zero emissions. First, we need to get a lot more of our electricity from renewable sources like solar, wind, and geothermal. We need to get to high levels even sooner than is required in the renewable portfolio standard that’s on the books in Nevada. I’ve worked a lot on that and it’s great, but we need to do even more. We need to do more because a clean electric grid makes possible the next task, and that’s using this clean electricity instead of fossil fuels to move around town…, but also using this clean electricity for those things where we currently use so-called ‘natural gas’ in our homes and businesses,” said Natural Resources Defense Council Senior Scientist Climate & Clean Energy Program Dylan Sullivan.
In addition to announcing the Network’s bold policy agenda, the Nevada Conservation League Education Fund published recent polling data that demonstrates Nevada voters’ high recognition of the climate emergency and strong support for progressive policies to confront this crisis. The full report can be found here.
The Nevada Conservation Network consists of the following organizations: Nevada Conservation League, Battle Born Progress, Chispa Nevada, EcoMadres, Environment Nevada, Friends of Nevada Wilderness, Get Outdoors Nevada, Great Basin Resource Watch, Moms Clean Air Force, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nevada Wildlife Federation, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Sierra Club, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, Vote Solar, and Western Resource Advocates.