Professor blasts climate panel recommendations

An environmentalist committed to the reduction of global warming has lambasted Gov. Jim Gibbon's Climate Change Advisory Committee recommendations. Yet, it remains unclear what Gibbons' position is or will be on the committee's recommendations.

James Hansen, adjunct professor at the Columbia University Earth Institute, on July 31 urged Gibbons to reject a committee recommendation that carbon dioxide emissions be reduced based on the unit of electricity generated, rather than reduced without regard to power consumption.

Hansen said the conclusion was "semantic trickery" and "nonsense stolen straight from the playbook of the Bush Administration and the coal and utility industry."

Those groups want to continue "emitting millions of tons of C02 while selling the public on the image that they take global warming seriously," Hansen said.

Scientists believe that carbon dioxide contributes to global warming and associated environmental problems, such as rising sea levels and harsher weather.

The committee last week presented its recommendations as part of a 189-page report.

Yet, it's not clear what Gibbons' position will be on the recommendations.

Ben Kieckhefer, communications director, said the governor wants to study the recommendations and consider whether to back each individual recommendation.

Gibbons may make an announcement on where he stands on the recommendations later or may just incorporate his position on the recommendations in his State of the State address to the 2009 Legislature, Kieckhefer said.

"Ultimately, these are just recommendations," Kieckhefer said. "And we intend to review all of the recommendations on all policy levels. The end result is that Jim Gibbons improves the environment of Nevada."

Hansen "was very critical" when the Desert Research Institute recognized the scientist as its 2008 Nevada Medalist, Kieckhefer said.

Steve Weil, a former member of the predecessor of the Public Utilities Commission, said he doesn't know why Gibbons failed to take a position on the committee's recommendations sooner.

"I have absolutely no idea what motivates the governor to do one thing or another," Weil said. "It is as much a mystery to me as anybody else."

Weil, state representative of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, said Gibbons is alone among neighboring states in failing to participate in efforts to curtail global warming through programs such as the Western Climate Initiative. In addition, Gibbons backed three coal-fired power projects, including one under development by Sierra Pacific Resources near Ely.

Contact reporter John G. Edwards at or 702-383-0420.