Nevada

2018 Was a Rough Election Year for Climate and Anti-fracking Measures

Read time: 6 mins
Solar panels and oil pumpjacks

Around the U.S., many states and municipalities were voting in the U.S. midterms on races with implications for limiting the environmental and public health impacts of fossil fuels, particularly drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking). On cue, however, the oil and gas industry responded by spending massive amounts of money to defeat these initiatives and elect their preferred candidates, with plenty of success. 

In just three of those states, energy and fossil fuel companies reportedly spent almost $100 million fighting a price on carbon, a ban on new fracking and drilling near homes, and a more ambitious state renewable energy requirement.

The Environment Is on the November Ballot — Here’s Where and What’s at Stake

Read time: 8 mins
Nevada solar array at Nellis Air Force Base

By Tara Lohan, The Revelator. Originally published on The Revelator.

Environmental issues such as polluted drinking water in Michigan and harmful algal blooms in Florida could influence which candidates voters will support in this November’s midterm election, says Holly Burke, communications coordinator of the League of Conservation Voters.

Water issues really resonate with voters in states where clean water has been a dramatic problem,” says Burke.

These issues may affect certain political candidates, but in some states ballot measures will be a more direct way for residents to weigh in on environmental issues. For those hoping that statewide initiatives will help to combat environmental rollbacks at the federal level by the Trump administration, this election will be a crucial test.

Casino Magnate Sheldon Adelson Stands Between Nevada and a Renewable Energy Future

Read time: 5 mins
Sheldon Adelson

This is a guest post by David Pomerantz crossposted from Energy and Policy Institute

The Nevada Assembly passed a bill yesterday that would dramatically increase the growth of renewable energy in the state, but Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate and major donor to Donald Trump, is attempting to prevent the bill from becoming law.

The bill, AB 206, would ensure that Nevada gets 80 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2040. AB 206 passed the Assembly with bipartisan support by a margin of 30 to 12, but it must now pass the Senate and be signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Struggles Over Utilities’ Grip on Energy Headed to Vote in Two Sunny States

Read time: 7 mins
Boat with solar panels in Florida.

When voters in Nevada and Florida hit the polls they will see ballot measures on energy that, if passed, would have a significant impact on consumer choice and monopolies for energy utilities. 

In Nevada, the ballot measure would weaken the dominance of the state’s main utility. Meanwhile the Florida initiative could be a boon to big utilities, thanks to what critics call deliberately deceptive wording. 

Nevada Energy Front Group Clouds Solar, Net Metering Debate

Read time: 3 mins

This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup originally published at EcoWatch.

In Nevada, the utility NV Energy is fighting against rooftop solar, specifically opposing the net metering policy that gives rooftop solar users credit for the power their panels produce. They’ve been releasing 30-second ads, with the most recent alleging that solar subsidies would send a billion Nevada tax dollars to out-of-state solar companies.

So how did we get to this point, where outlandish claims are the subject of ads?

"We Were Booming and Now We're Dead" — How Nevada's Solar Industry Bright Spot Turned Dark

Read time: 11 mins

Louise Helton, owner of One Sun Solar Electric in Las Vegas, says that since January her company is doing more work removing solar panels from rooftops than installing them.

But at least she’s still in business, unlike many solar entrepreneurs in Nevada. She’s had to diversify into LED lighting installation and other sources of income.

During the recession, rooftop solar was the bright spot in the Nevada economy,” Helton tells DeSmog. “We were booming. And now we’re dead.”

It was a decision by the Public Utility Commission of Nevada (PUCN) in December that delivered a fatal blow to rooftop solar in the sunniest state in the U.S.

US Public Overwhelmingly Prefers To Protect Public Lands, Continue Developing Clean Energy

Read time: 4 mins

If Twitter is any indication, the court of public opinion has ruled against the armed “militiamen” who took over a wildlife refuge in Burns, Oregon.

They’ve been called #YallQueda, #VanillaISIS and #YeeHawdists, and they claim to have stormed the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in response to the federal sentence handed down to convicted arsonist and rancher Dwight Hammond.

Hammond is considered a hero by right-wing movements in the Western United States that think it’s heroic to fight federal authorities who seek to protect lands that belong to all Americans. But, cruel hashtags notwithstanding, it wasn’t clear how much support the YeeHawdists and the pro-logging, pro-mining, pro-ranching movements that spawned them have among the general public.

Until now. Thanks to Colorado College’s sixth annual Conservation in the West Poll, we have the data.

Walton Family, Owners of Walmart, Using Their Billions To Attack Rooftop Solar

Read time: 4 mins

A recent trend has seen utilities deciding that since they haven't been able to beat back the rise of rooftop solar companies, they might as well join them (or at least steal their business model). But the Walton Family, owners of Walmart as well as a stake in a manufacturer of solar arrays for utilties, aren't ready to give up the fight.

A new report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance has found that, through their Walton Family Foundation, the Waltons have given $4.5 million dollars to groups like the American Enterprise Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and Americans for Prosperity—groups that are attacking renewable energy policies at the state level and, specifically, pushing for fees on rooftop solar installations. The head of ALEC has even gone so far as to denigrate owners of rooftop solar installations as “freeriders.”

But support for groups seeking to halt the rise of clean energy is only half the story. According to Vice News, the Waltons own a 30% stake in First Solar, a company that makes solar arrays for power plants as “an economically attractive alternative or complement to fossil fuel electricity generation,” per its 2013 annual report, which also identifies “competitors who may gain in profitability and financial strength over time by successfully participating in the global rooftop PV solar market” as a threat to First Solar's future profitability.

Perhaps it was that threat to its long-term strategic plan that led First Solar CEO James Hughes to publish an op-ed in the Arizona Republic voicing his support for a proposal by Arizona Public Service, the state's biggest energy utility, to charge owners of rooftop solar installations a fee of $50 - $100 a month, which would effectively wipe out any economic benefits of generating one's own power. A compromise was eventually reached to adopt a lower fee of roughly $5 per household, but even that has had a chilling effect on the growth of rooftop solar in Arizona, as residential solar installations subsequently dropped 40% in APS territory.

Bryan Miller, president of the Alliance for Solar Choice, said at the time that First Solar's move was unprecedented: “no solar company has publicly advocated against solar until First Solar did it.”

Having collected its scalp in Arizona, First Solar is now attacking policies that foster rooftop solar in California and Nevada, according to the ILSR report.

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