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EDITORIAL: Lombardo’s energy directive triggers green interests

The usual suspects are lambasting Gov. Joe Lombardo for his recent directive on energy policy, but the edict is a much-needed tip of the cap to reality.

Gov. Lombardo on Monday issued an executive order highlighting the need for a more balanced approach to energy development in the state while recognizing that natural gas must remain a part of the mix for the foreseeable future. The state, the governor noted, must focus on “developing and maintaining a robust, diverse energy supply portfolio and a balanced approach to electric and natural gas energy supply and transportation fuels that emphasizes affordability and reliability for consumers.”

That certainly doesn’t sound controversial. But green energy advocates were seeing red.

“Instead of accelerating the renewable energy transition,” said Patrick Donnelly, the Great Basin director for the Center for Biological Diversity, “the governor is using his bully pulpit to advocate for the continued climate destruction of the fossil fuel industry.”

It’s worth noting that while Mr. Donnelly claims support for “accelerating the renewable energy transition,” his group routinely opposes renewable projects in the state, while also going to court to scuttle mining operations intended to provide the materials necessary to produce electric vehicles.

In fact, the governor’s order in no way precludes the development of green energy sources — wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower — and encourages the build-out of the transmission infrastructure necessary to move that energy around the state. But it also acknowledges that, to keep the lights on, natural gas must also be a vital component of any affordable and reliable system. The alternatives are summer blackouts and draconian restrictions on residential heating and cooling.

Gov. Lombardo’s executive order also directs state officials to dismantle regulatory obstacles that often delay permitting of energy projects. That’s good news.

None of this is an attack on green energy or an effort to slow its development in the Silver State. It’s simply a recognition that renewable technology is not currently capable of meeting the state’s energy needs around the clock without massive economic disruption or major changes in behavior patterns.

“With low-cost storage options not widely available” for green energy, a 2016 paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research noted, “fast-reacting fossil fuel backup capacity is one way to fill the gaps between electricity demand and the supply of renewables. Examples of such capacity include most natural gas generation technologies.”

The governor’s emphasis on balancing the state’s energy portfolio is a welcome development and crucial to ensuring that Nevadans have dependable access to economically priced power.

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