61°F
weather icon Clear

Environmentalists, tribes oppose Clark County lands bill

Conservationists, rural governments and Native American tribes are opposing a sweeping lands proposal from Clark County over fears it could restart an effort to pipe water from eastern Nevada to Las Vegas.

The proposed bill, which has not been introduced in Congress, looks to open up roughly 42,000 acres of federal land just outside the Las Vegas metropolitan area for development and could add up to 376,000 acres of new protected areas. Several other land and fee transfers are included in the proposal.

Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network, said his group is concerned that two sections in the lengthy proposal could allow the Southern Nevada Water Authority to move forward with its long-stalled $15 billion proposal to pipe water 300 miles from areas around Ely to Las Vegas.

But officials from the county and the water agency said those sections have nothing to do with the proposed pumping project, and that the groups were using the controversial plan to drum up opposition.

“In no way does the language in this lands bill authorize the pipeline. It’s not about the pipeline at all,” said Kevin MacDonald, public information administrator for the Clark County Department of Air Quality.

The bill would require the federal government to give ownership of land to a local agency if the local entity owns water infrastructure on the parcel.

Roerink said that language “appears to be an attempt to skirt the requirements of federal environmental laws,” such as those cited in a federal judge’s 2017 ruling.

Bronson Mack, a spokesman for the water authority, said one of the sections noted by the Great Basin Water Network deals with combining rights of way for power lines and would help the agency reach the state’s 50 percent renewable portfolio standard by 2030. He also said the language on land transfers involves projects that have already gone through the environmental review processes.

In the 2017 ruling, a federal judge upheld the Bureau of Land Management’s prior decision to grant a right of way for the pipeline but ruled that the BLM had failed to explain what needed to be done to repair or replace habitats that might be destroyed by the project.

Other groups that have come out in opposition to the proposed bill include the Center for Biological Diversity, the White Pine County Commission, several counties in Utah and the Ely and Duckwater Shoshone tribes.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Accused murder mastermind Frank LaPena is granted a pardon - VIDEO
A onetime Las Vegas casino bell captain who spent 25 years in prison as the accused mastermind in a notorious 1974 contract murder won his last legal battle for freedom Wednesday when the state Pardons Board granted him a conditional pardon restoring all his civil rights. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Middle: Nonpartisan voters and the 2020 election
How will the growing segment of nonpartisan or independent voters — those who have not registered with either political party, or who have left partisan politics behind — vote in 2020?
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - VIDEO
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - VIDEO
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
White House budget official offers impeachment testimony

House impeachment investigators met in private Saturday with a White House budget official as the historic inquiry produces new testimony.