Las Vegas residents lobby Nevada Legislature on conservation

Updated May 2, 2017 - 4:33 pm

CARSON CITY — Investing in renewable energy and protecting Nevada’s public lands were the focus Tuesday of Conservation Lobby Day at the Nevada Legislature.

About 100 Las Vegas residents took an overnight bus ride to the capital to lobby lawmakers on issues ranging from encouraging rooftop solar to protecting the state’s public lands and newly designated conservation areas that are potentially threatened by the Trump administration.

The press conference and rally comes a week after the Nevada Assembly and Senate passed conservation legislation that now go to the other chamber for consideration.

The citizen lobbyists came to meet with their legislators and support the bills.

Pastor Ralph Williamson from Las Vegas said his commitment to conservation is related in part to the effects of polluting power projects and for the job opportunities for Nevada residents from green energy development.

Renewable energy is essential for healthy communities and good jobs in every corner of the state, he said at a rally outside the Legislative Building.

“For far too long, low-income families and communities of color have had power plants and other polluting facilities placed in our neighborhoods, putting us at higher risk for asthma and other illness,” Williamson said. “I came to support clean energy as a matter of justice.”

Jacob Meneses, 13, from Las Vegas, said he took the trip to Carson City to speak out for protecting Nevada’s public lands.

“We also need more solar,” he said. “We have lots of sunshine.”

The Assembly Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday heard Senate Bill 413 establishing Public Lands Day in Nevada. The Senate Natural Resources Committee took up Assembly Joint Resolution 13, which expresses legislative support for the enactment and use of the Antiquities Act and the designation of the Basin and Range National Monument and the Gold Butte Monument.

Trump signed an executive order last week to identify national monument designations that can be rescinded as a way to open up more federal lands to development.

No immediate action was taken on either measure.

Basin and Range

And while there was a lot of support for both bills, Lincoln County Commissioner Varlin Higbee asked that the Basin and Range area be removed from AJR13 until hearings can be held in Lincoln County where the monument is located. There was no local input on the designation, he said.

Higbee said he does not necessarily oppose the monument, but local input is needed. The county is the first responder to issues in the monument but has received no funding to do so, he said.

Supporters of the monuments argue they are special places that deserve protection, and that they are good for Nevada’s economy.

Contact Sean Whaley at or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.

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