A Historic Session for Nevada’s Environment

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For Nevada’s environment, the 77th Session of the Nevada State Legislature, was a session of historic achievements. We saw legislators on both sides of the aisle working to protect Nevada’s air, land, and water, and to invest in a clean energy economy. We saw more bipartisan support for sensible protections, and more diversity of groups focusing on the benefits of a healthy environment. We saw Nevadans speak up in greater numbers than ever for environmental issues, and we saw lawmakers listen and reconsider decisions in response to those voices. It was also one of the first sessions where we spent more time (significantly more time) supporting environmental gains than we did defending Nevada’s environment from attempts to erode vital environmental protections.

Highlights included:

  • Moving away from dirty coal.
  • Strong commitment to developing local clean energy sources.
  • Stronger invasive species protections.
  • Support for public lands like Red Rock, Tule Springs and Wovoka.
  • Sound wildlife management.
  • Re-commitment to the environmental protections of the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact.

We Passed All Four of our Conservation Priorities

The Nevada Conservation League works in partnership with our Common Agenda partners, a coalition of 19 state-based environmental groups. Before each session, this coalition determines 4 priorities that we will unite behind and lobby at the State Legislature. This year, our priorities included bills on Complete Streets, closing loopholes in the Renewable Portfolio Standards, reclaiming the enormous lakes left behind by open pit mining, and repealing SB 271, the disastrous provision that would have pulled Nevada out of the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact.

We Passed Most of the Bills on our Hot List

Guided by our Common Agenda partners, the Nevada Conservation League also lobbies other legislation that impacts conservation issues in the state. Each of these bills was listed in our weekly Hot Lists, distributed to legislators and to the public.

This session our Hot List included a number of bills on renewable energy. The most striking of these, of course, was the “NVision” bill, introduced after the session had begun. This bill will shut down the Reid-Gardner coal plant by 2017 and divest from the Navajo coal plant by 2019, while increasing clean energy production in the state by 350 megawatts.

It is worth noting that this bill, and the other provisions that will encourage clean energy use, passed at a time when many other states have been fighting concerted attacks on renewable energy standards and programs.

Was it All Good?

Of course not. As any Session progresses, compromises are made, amendments are added and some bills die.

Sometimes amendments have little affect on the provisions in a bill that are of most concern to conservationists. This was the case with SB 229, the Save Tahoe Bill, in which amendments proposed by the Governor addressed the litigious nature of the Tahoe Basin community but did not change the fact that Nevada will unequivocally recommit to the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact.

The final version of SB 252 still effectively closes loopholes in Nevada’s RPS, but the timetable to implement these changes is a few years longer than we would have liked. We are disappointed that a measure that would have made energy efficiency a separate, stand-alone standard did not pass, and we intend to focus on this issue in 2015.

The “NVision” bill, SB 123, came with several difficult compromises. However, Nevada has taken a huge step forward by eliminating coal-fired power plants, with their devastating health impacts on local populations and proven relationship to air pollution and global warming.

For other legislation, amendments watered down important protections, while still giving provisions enough force to represent a good first step. Neither the bill that regulates BPA in products aimed at small children or the bill that requires Nevada to investigate the negative effects of “fracking” are as strong as we would have liked. For both these bills, we were particularly disappointed that Nevadans did not win the right to full disclosure of the chemicals that may have serious health impacts on our communities.

Conservation Priorities Passed

AB 145 – Provides for retrofitting of roads and streets in consideration of different types of users.
AB 346 – Revises provisions governing mining reclamation.
SB 229 – Contingently amends and repeals the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact and the provisions of Senate Bill No. 271 of the 2011 Session.
SB 252 – Revises provisions relating to the portfolio standard for providers of electric service.

Pro Conservation Bills Adopted

AB 33 – Revises provisions governing the partial abatement of certain taxes for certain energy-efficient buildings.
AB 44 – Requires associations of planned communities to allow the outdoor storage of trash and recycling containers under certain circumstances.
AB 89 – Authorizes the formation of benefit corporations.
AB 128 – Exempts a person from the payment of a fee for the management of aquatic invasive species under certain circumstances.
AB 168 – Requires the membership of each county advisory board to manage wildlife to include one qualified member who represents the interests of the general public.
AB 239 – Makes various changes relating to energy.
AB 264 – Increases the penalty for certain crimes relating to estrays and feral livestock.
AB 345– Revises provisions governing the management of certain wildlife.
AB 354 – Prohibits the use of certain chemicals in various consumer products.
AB 388 – Revises provisions relating to renewable energy systems.
AB 428– Revises provisions relating to energy.
ACR 3 – Expresses support for the programs, partnerships and recycling efforts of the America’s Schools Program.
AJR 1  – Expresses the support of the Nevada Legislature for the designation of the Upper Las Vegas Wash as a national monument.
AJR 3  – Expresses the intent of the Legislature to establish a biomass industry to restore certain ecosystems on public lands.
SB 11 – Prohibits the possession of wildlife in Nevada that was acquired, hunted, taken or transported in violation of a law or regulation of another state or country.
SB 65 – Revises provisions relating to public water systems and certain laboratories.
SB 123 – Revises provisions relating to energy.
SB 133 – Requires the State Engineer to allow a county to participate in the development and implementation of a plan relating to the appropriation of water for beneficial use under certain circumstances.
SB 142 – Makes various changes to provisions governing local government contracting.
SB 159 – Declares the Legislature’s support for a land exchange near the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
SB 181 – Revises provisions relating to fishing.
SB 371 – Prohibits a person from intentionally feeding any species of wildlife other than a wild bird.
SB 390 – Enacts provisions relating to hydraulic fracturing.
SB 433 – Revises provisions governing motor vehicle fuel
SB 436 – Create the Nevada State Parks and Cultural Resources Endowment Fund.
SB 449 – Revises certain provisions relating to the unlawful disposal of solid waste, sewage or other similar materials.
SB 489 – Extends the deadline for issuing bonds for the program of conservation and protection of natural resources approved by the voters in 2002.
SJR 14 – Urges Congress to enact the Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act.
SJR 15 – Proposes to amend the Nevada Constitution to remove the separate tax rate and manner of assessing and distributing the tax on mines and the proceeds of mines.

Anti Conservation Bills Amended or Fixed in Legislative Process

AB 227 – Creates the Nevada Land Management Task Force to conduct a study addressing the transfer of certain public lands in this State.
AB 461 – Enacts provisions governing the management of sagebrush ecosystems.
AJR 5  – Urges Congress to take certain actions concerning federal public lands in Nevada.
SB 82 – Prohibits the Board of Wildlife Commissioners from authorizing the hunting of black bears.
SB 134 – Revises provisions governing animals.

Anti Conservation Bills that Died in Legislative Process

AB 32 – Revises the provisions governing certain tax abatements for new or expanded businesses and renewable energy facilities.
AB 157 – Revises provisions relating to water furnished by a municipal water system for domestic use in certain counties.
SB 158 – Revises provisions governing the frequency of required inspections of the emissions of certain motor vehicles.

Pro Conservation Bills that Died in Legislative Process

AB 75  – Revises provisions governing the publication of property tax rolls.
AB 215 – Provides for the collection and application of graywater for a single-family residence.
AB 267 – Revises certain provisions governing publication of legal notices and legal advertisements
AB 301 – Requires the Legislative Committee on Public Lands to conduct a study concerning water conservation and alternative sources of water for Nevada communities.
AB 396 – Revises provisions relating to the waters of this State.
AB 436 – Revises provisions governing the regulation of public utilities which furnish, for compensation, any water for municipal, industrial or domestic purposes.
AB 487 – Makes various changes relating to recycling.
ACR 2  – Encourages boards of county commissioners to make available programs for single-stream recycling.
SB 183 – Enacts provisions governing manufacturers of certain electronic devices.
SB 232 – Revises certain provisions relating to the regulation of certain municipal utilities.
SB 250 – Provides for the creation of certain local improvement districts
SB 316 – Requires provisions relating to materials recovery facilities.
SB 329 – Creates the Account for Clean Energy Loans.

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