Sierra Club expands, aims to expedite coal-plant closings

The same day Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke concluded his review of 22 national monuments and submitted his findings to President Donald Trump without making them public, the Sierra Club’s Southern Nevada members celebrated the opening of their new office near the Springs Preserve on Aug. 24.

That office, 3828 Meadows Lane, is a base for the growing chapter’s four employees, who hope to help the club promote national initiatives including its Beyond Coal campaign as well as its push to protect the country’s public lands.

The group has set its sights on expediting the closure of Nevada’s remaining coal plant, the North Valmy Generating Station near Battle Mountain, by 2020. It’s scheduled for retirement in 2025.

And as the state likely makes its way for energy deregulation, campaign organizer Elspeth DiMarzio and her staff will have their hands busy.

“We want to make sure the deregulation means a clean energy future for the state,” DiMarzio said.

The Sierra Club — founded by preservationist John Muir in 1892 — is an environmental advocacy organization in the U.S. with an estimated membership of 3 million.

Banners on the new office wall proclaimed the group’s message: “WE’RE READY FOR GREEN JOBS NOW” shouted one hanging above a small podium in the center of the office. “I love clean air” and “Sierra Club stands with workers” posters were taped to the windows for passers-by to read.

“This is the first time in recent history we’ve had our own real office,” DiMarzio said. “Our staff has expanded, and our work has expanded, so here we are. It’s exciting.”

The Southern Nevada group is one of four that make up the club’s Toiyabe Chapter and represents Clark, Nye, Esmeralda, Lincoln and White Pine counties.

The group previously was based within the offices of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada on Paseo del Prado near Palace Station. The national organization’s campaigns have ramped up in response to Trump’s rollback of several of former President Barack Obama’s environmental policies. As a result, the Southern Nevada group has increased its staffing from two to four employees.

Until she was joined two years ago by colleague Christian Gerlach, who focuses on public-lands work, DiMarzio ran the group on her own. In June, the group added two more staffers, Ana Boyd and Eymhy Corpus, to work on the Beyond Coal campaign.

The campaign, which promotes renewable energy instead of coal, seeks to close coal power plants across the U.S., cut down the mining of coal and prevent the export of coal from the U.S.

Boyd, 22, is a 2017 graduate of Scripps College in Claremont, California. She’s set to organize projects with Nevada college campuses for the Beyond Coal campaign.

DiMarzio played a part in the campaign to shut down the Reid Gardner coal-fired plant in Moapa, which burned its last piece of coal in March. DiMarzio helped organize rallies, a media campaign and a 50-mile walk from the nearby Moapa Band of Paiute Indians reservation to the offices of U.S. Sens. Harry Reid and Dean Heller in Las Vegas.

Membership for the Southern Nevada group grew to 2,700 in August from 2,300 in January, a near 17 percent increase.

“It’s because more and more Southern Nevadans are expressing concerns over climate change and the potential damaging effects of new governmental policies in Washington, D.C.,” said Taj Ainlay, volunteer group chairman. “(New members) want to help do something about it.”

Contact Madelyn Reese at mreese@viewnews.com or 702-383-0497. Follow @MadelynGReese on Twitter.

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