Make green energy plans ‘smart from the start’

To the editor:

Your recent editorial, “Energy foes,” misleads readers by claiming that conservation organizations are challenging renewable energy projects in court because our “true green agenda” is to cripple economic development.

The truth is that the Nevada Wilderness Project and other conservation groups have publicly supported many renewable energy projects for the simple reason that utility-scale wind, solar and geothermal projects will reduce our country’s emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

But when a project such as the 7,500-acre Spring Valley Wind Farm doesn’t perform adequate environmental reviews, we will do what we can to make sure it complies with National Environmental Policy Act requirements. That’s why our group worked with and endorsed the Crescent Dunes solar project north of Tonopah and SWIP (aka One Nevada) transmission line, both of which made adjustments to their design to avoid damaging sensitive wildlife habitat.

When a renewable energy project is being built on the public’s land, our group and the two groups that challenged Spring Valley in court have an obligation to ensure the public’s assets are not compromised. That means protecting the habitat of the sage grouse, which is a candidate for the endangered species list, and making sure bats and other wildlife are not unduly harmed by the development.

Finding the right location for these projects – on public land that is close to transmission lines and existing roads, and not encroaching on fragile wildlife habitat or wilderness areas – is what we call “smart from the start,” and it benefits the developers, the economy and our state. It’s not “hamstringing the country’s energy sector.”

Jeneane Harter

Reno

The writer is executive director of the Nevada Wilderness Project.

Shop around?

To the editor:

Your April 19 editorial advising that consumers comparison shop for the lowest-cost medical care was right on, with one fatal flaw. If medical care were a normal commodity, shopping around would work. Most of us are insured, however, and the only question we ask is: Will my insurance cover this? We see no advantage to shopping around when we pay only the same co-payment, regardless of cost.

This aberration is caused by medical costs being covered by third-party insurance or the government rather than the consumer.

For years, I have said that the only way to bring down medical costs is to get rid of medical insurance. If consumers had to pay directly, costs would not have risen as fast as they have. Costs almost surely would come down if the consumer had to pay directly.

Insurance should exist for those conditions unlikely to occur, not for routine medical care that every consumer receives.

Bill Hodson

Henderson

Nothing obvious

To the editor:

In response to Ezra Klein’s April 26 commentary, “Why America won’t go the way of Europe”:

Mr. Klein reasons that, “What separates Europe from America [is] the fact that investors aren’t confident the euro zone will exist in 10 years.” He goes on and admits that, “America has a debt problem. But it’s been around for hundreds of years. … There’s nothing obvious that could force a rethinking of America as a continuing, surviving enterprise.”

So America might have a problem – nothing obvious – but we should continue to increase our unfunded social programs until they equal those offered in Europe. After all, we are too big and too old to cause any lack of investor confidence – nothing obvious.

Let’s examine some of the data and trends that are, in fact, obvious to most folks.

Last August, S&P downgraded America’s AAA debt rating for the first time in 70 years. U.S. debt exceeds $15 trillion and is growing. Our debt is greater than 115 percent of our gross national product – only nine countries in the world can claim that.

Let’s look at the state and local governments that are struggling to meet budget challenges. According to the National Center of Policy Analysis, unfunded liabilities of state and local governments exceed $3.2 trillion, nearly triple what they report.

Meanwhile, General Motors, the oldest – and once the largest – car manufacturer gets bailed out, not by private money but by the broke U.S government. According to The Wall Street Journal, nearly half – 48.5 percent – of America’s households receive some form of government assistance, up from 44.4 percent in 2008. Some 47 percent of American workers pay no income tax.

I could go on.

According to USA Today, the world academic rankings of this country’s future leaders are 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading. China and India will soon become the largest economic powers if this trend continues.

We cannot afford to ignore the obvious data and trends in America. Our leaders need to take some baby steps now to avoid the harsh fiscal treatment that many in Europe are suffering from now. But who is electing our leaders? Could it be the nearly half of American households who pay no taxes but receive some form of government assistance?

If we continue to ignore the obvious, our children and grandchildren will pay the price.

We cannot continue to kick the can down the road.

Gary Desler

Henderson

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