Governor Sisolak, Legislators Act on Climate and Energy

Governor Sisolak, announcing Nevada is joining the U.S. Climate Alliance. Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson and Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro at right.

Just two months after being sworn in, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak has acted on his campaign promise to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, committing the Silver State to meeting the greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets set out in the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. In June 2017, President Trump capriciously announced his intention to exit the agreement. The Alliance is group of states that have pledged to lower their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025, as compared to 2005 levels. With Sisolak now joining the bipartisan group of governors, the Alliance is now 23 member-states strong and encompasses more than half of the U.S. population.

At the announcement, which coincided with Conservation Lobby Day, Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson spoke about the positive impact of clean energy on health and equity, while Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro spoke movingly about Nevada’s wild places and the importance of conserving them. Clean energy champion, Senator Chris Brooks, strongly supported the Governor’s action, stressed the importance of increasing Nevada’s renewable portfolio standard this legislative session, and talked about the importance of climate action.

Later today, the Legislature’s Growth and Infrastructure Committees, meeting jointly, will hold a hearing on Senator Brooks climate bill, SB 254. The bill would establish greenhouse gas emissions goals for the state, and task Nevada’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources with conducting an annual (instead of the current quadrennial) assessment of Nevada’s greenhouse gas emissions. The bill also requires agencies to analyze policies that could close that gap between projected emissions and the emission reduction targets.

This leadership from Governor Sisolak, Speaker Frierson, Majority Leader Cannizzaro, and Senator Brooks on climate and clean energy is a breath of fresh air for Nevada. This administration and legislature is ready to address the urgent threat of climate change, and ready to take action to accelerate the transition to clean energy.

More on the U.S. Climate Alliance

Climate change is real, humans are responsible, and without action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the people of Nevada and it’s treasured environment will be harmed. Average annual temperatures in Nevada have already increased by about two degrees Fahrenheit since 1900, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Nevada’s people and economy have already suffered from drought, wildfires, and extreme heat, which are associated with and exacerbated by global warming. If greenhouse gas emissions around the globe remain unaddressed, average temperatures in Nevada could increase by as much as 15 degrees by 2100.

The 2015 Paris Agreement was a major breakthrough on global action to reduce climate change, though, of course, a lot more progress will be needed. Crucially, it was based on each nation’s own determination of the amount of emissions reductions that it could feasibly achieve. The U.S. determined it could reduce emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Trump’s decision to announce the U.S. withdrawal was a gobbledygook-filled blunder. By announcing that Nevada is “still in,” Sisolak is doing the right thing: protecting Nevadans and Nevada’s diverse ecosystems, and standing up to President Trump.

In doing so, Sisolak is joining a group of 22 other Governors committed to meeting Paris Agreement goals, sharing emissions reduction progress, and strengthening climate and clean energy policies. The announcement will help orient the administration around meeting the Paris Agreement goals, and establishes that the Governor will use his power, and his pen, to take action on climate and clean energy.

The renewable energy and climate bills

Senator Brooks has been a clean energy champion since he arrived in the Legislative Building for the 2017 session, the Senator’s bill works well with the Governor’s commitment to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. SB 254, for example, includes the Agreement’s 2025 target—but goes further by requiring agencies to lay out policy pathways for Nevada to meet these goals, and an ambitious goal of near-zero emissions in 2050. Clean energy is a big economic opportunity for Nevada. NRDC’s own analysis shows that a 50 percent renewable portfolio standard could bring in more than $539 million in wages, generate over $1.5 billion in economic activity, and support an additional 11,170 clean energy jobs in 2030.

A big day for climate and clean energy

Governor Sisolak’s commitment to the Paris Accord, Majority Leader Cannizzaro’s and Speaker Frierson’s strong support, and Senator Brooks’s carbon reduction bill show that Nevada is ready to once again be a leader on climate and clean energy. A transition to clean energy will protect Nevadans’ health and safety, preserve the state’s diverse ecosystems, and diversify and grow the state's economy.