Former Nevada Sen. Harry Reid called for a national urgency in dealing with climate change during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, citing Nevada’s soaring temperatures and wildfires as evidence while also offering feedback on the crowded 2020 presidential field’s climate proposals.
“The climate crisis is the greatest crisis facing our planet today, and it could be the greatest crisis ever,” Reid said.
Reid noted Las Vegas is warming faster than any U.S. city. Wildfires were once rare, but 1 million acres of Nevada land burned in the last year and climate change is blamed for clouding pristine Lake Tahoe.
It’s no wonder, Reid said, that climate change is second only to health care among the concerns of Nevada Democratic caucus goers.
Reid said Democrats have carried the workload on climate change and must win the presidency in 2020 in order to continue efforts to fight it. Winning back the Senate would certainly help the Democrats’ cause, he added, but the presidency is crucial.
“A lot can be done legally through executive orders,” Reid said.
The conference call came just hours before the 10 Democratic presidential candidates who qualified for the September debate hosted a series of individual town hall meetings specific to climate change on CNN.
Reid was asked several times if any 2020 Democratic candidate’s climate proposal stood out, but he declined to name a favorite, saying all of the proposal he’d seen were strong and similar. However, Sen. Kamala Harris’ Nevada staff included a glowing quote from Reid in its announcement, and the senator said during the conference call that South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg sent him a “excellent” proposal to review.
The former senator also told reporters he’s asked the many candidates to visit one of Southern Nevada’s sprawling solar fields for insight into how Nevada is tackling the issue at home.
Reid reiterated his commitment to not to making any endorsement in the presidential race until after the Nevada caucus.
When asked if his energy future included a spot for nuclear power, Reid said it did, but “we should be very, very careful” with the costly energy source. He added that he preferred solar, wind and geothermal options to that of nuclear power.
Reid also attempted to cut down the argument for high costs as a deterrent to addressing climate change.
“The cost of doing nothing would be very, very drastic,” Reid said. “What would Las Vegas be but for air conditioning? If we’re going to have a habitable earth, we can’t do nothing.”
In response to Reid’s call, Nevada Republican Party spokesman Keith Schipper said the Reid-led Senate “did nothing” to address climate change in 2009, when Democrats had full control over Congress and the White House. He said the state’s water and air quality have improved through innovation — not regulation — under President Donald Trump.
“Meanwhile, Democrat presidential hopefuls are barnstorming the country promising to raise energy prices on hardworking Nevada families with government programs that will achieve little to no results,” Schipper said.