Governor is failing on climate change and clean energy

14 December 2023

Now that the United Nations Climate Change Conference has come to a close, where the world’s nations have made history by calling for “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, it’s time to ask Gov. Joe Lombardo why Nevada can’t do the same. Is he unaware or doesn’t care that the top two fastest-warming cities in the U.S. are in Nevada, that half of Nevada’s sagebrush has been destroyed or degraded, or that we’ve wiped out 60 percent of the world’s wildlife in the past 40 years?

A former lobbyist for Nevada’s fracked fossil gas industry, appointed by Lombardo to run the state energy office, recently wrote an op-ed extolling the governor’s climate and energy policies. His propaganda may comfort Lombardo’s fossil fuel donors, but it should at least raise the eyebrows of Nevadans who want to give our grandkids a shot at a livable planet.

What is Gov. Lombardo’s strategy to address climate change? He doesn’t have one. Based on his actions so far, he is thwarting Nevada’s clean energy transition. In July, the hottest month ever recorded, he withdrew Nevada’s participation in the U.S. Climate Alliance, stating its “goals conflict with Nevada’s energy policy objectives.” 

In March, he signed an executive order aligning his administration with NV Energy and Southwest Gas and their agenda of building fracked fossil gas plants and away from real climate solutions such as rooftop solar to power Nevada’s homes and cities.

Lombardo also removed the state’s Climate Action Plan that was painstakingly created over years of planning by industry and conservation stakeholders during the previous administration. Once housed in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website, the page currently reads “Under Construction” a symbol of Lombardo’s commitment to clean energy that appears to be sorely lacking.

Last month, the Fifth National Climate Assessment from the U.S. government stated that out of all the Colorado River states, Nevada has done the least to protect its residents from the impacts of climate change. 

And in 2016, NV Energy worked to gut the state’s net metering program so it could make more money, disincentivizing rooftop solar in our state. Lombardo is not even considering the push to get more solar panels on more residential rooftops.

While all of this is deeply disturbing, it should come as no surprise, considering NV Energy contributed $40,000 to Lombardo’s campaign through bundled contributions.

Whether Lombardo, NV Energy or Southwest Gas like it or not, we’re going to run Nevada and the entire planet on sun and wind a few decades from now because it’s the cheapest way to make electricity. But we don’t have that much time. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that if we want to limit global warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial temperatures and keep the world from unbearable heating, we must halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. That is now six years away. 

The great task before humanity is to rein in the fossil fuel industry and slow the rapid warming of the Earth. In order to do that locally, we must convince the Lombardo administration that the future of our grandkids and the long-term health of the planet are far more important than the short-term profits of his fossil fuel donors.

B Fulkerson, a fifth-generation Nevadan, has been an environmental activist since 1984 and is lead national organizer for Third Act.

The Nevada Independent welcomes informed, cogent rebuttals to opinion pieces such as this. Send them to [email protected].

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