Nevada's Governor Brian Sandoval recently joined 16 other states and a bipartisan coalition of Governors, to commit to advancing clean energy. The accord recognizes the challenge Americans face from climate change: "Current challenges also demand these new energy solutions. Extreme weather events, such as floods, droughts, wildfires and sea-level rise, can negatively impact electric reliability and the economy." And seeks clean energy opportunities to address these challenges: "Embracing new energy solutions can provide more durable and resilient infrastructure, and enable economic growth, while protecting the health of our communities and natural resources. These improvements will help secure a safe and prosperous future for our country." Nevada is not without controversy on renewable energy. Recent decisions by the state utility commission have spurred major protests, but these actions show Sandoval recognizes clean energy is a major opportunity in the state.
Following up on the statement, Sandoval created a new taskforce to find ways Nevada could lead in the clean energy revolution now facing the energy sector, saying, "There are few more critical issues to Nevada's future than clean and renewable energy. Not only does this sector drive many economic development opportunities, but it also helps us improve the quality of life for many Nevadans by helping keep our air clean, water fresh, and allows us to explore our unlimited potential in the wealth of renewables Nevada has to offer." On the heels of Sandoval's announcement NV Energy, the state's largest utility, announced it is seeking proposals to build or buy more renewable energy. Nevada has seen some of the lowest clean energy prices in the country and was already well positioned to comply with the Clean Power Plan.
Contrast Sandoval's pragmatism with the recent brief filed by Nevada's Attorney General, making the contorted argument that the State should oppose the Clean Power Plan--one of the biggest federal mechanisms to support clean energy development in state's like Nevada. The brief argues against the rule even though "the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, through its Division of Environmental Protection, concluded that Nevada is differently situated as compared to other States participating as petitioners in this litigation, and therefore Nevada has not joined this litigation as a State petitioner." The facts not being a good enough reason to avoid the litigation, Attorney General Laxalt found other reasons to pile on, including that ever-ready "slippery slope" argument. . The brief argues that the rule "opens the door to further rounds of discretionary EPA regulations--regulations that may well aim directly at Nevada utilities, businesses, and consumers." In otehr words, sure, this rule helps promote an clean energy, protect public health and spur economic growth in Nevada. But what will they do next?
The brief will likely make little difference since the Clean Power Plan is already before the court and will be litigated over the next year or two. NRDC is confident it will ultimately be upheld. Still, it's unfortunate to see another Attorney General ignoring his state's own interest in clean energy and ideologically tilting at windmills, instead.