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Wake and Smile, the Nightmare is Over


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View Chris Jordan-Bloch's blog posts
04 June 2013, 3:47 PM
Landmark law moves Nevada from coal to renewables

"It felt like I was waking up from a nightmare. I wasn't really sure what was true or false. I was confused. My heart was racing. I was excited. Maybe, I thought, this nightmare is over."

This is what Vickie Simmons remembers feeling when she first heard that the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant might be closing. Simmons is a leading member of the Moapa Band of Paiutes Health and Environmental Committee, and for years she and the rest of the Paiute tribe have lived in the shadow of Reid Gardner’s smokestacks and waste pits. They have paid incredible health costs and reaped little economic benefits.

But Simmons is right - the nightmare is ending.

 Photo of Vickie Simmons by Chris Jordan-Bloch

(Photo of Vickie Simmons by Chris Jordan-Bloch)

In a vote last night, the Nevada Assembly approved SB123, a landmark bill that shifts the state away from coal-fired power. The bill closes Reid Gardner, directs NV Energy to eliminate 800 megawatts of coal-fired power generation from its portfolio, and mandates 350 megawatts of renewable energy development.

“When we first started to call for the closure of Reid Gardner, we were told it couldn’t be done,” said Simmons. “Now, with this legislation, we are close to our goal. The coal plant that has for years poisoned our reservation will finally close and be cleaned up.”

Reid Gardner sits 50 miles north of Las Vegas and less than one mile from the homes of Simmons and the other tribal members. For years the plant has rained pollution on the community. High asthma, cancer, heart and thyroid disease rates plague the reservation.

Years ago, Simmons lost her brother due to pollution she blames on the plant. Last week, she lost a friend. Former tribal chairman Calvin Meyers died at age 57.

“Sometimes when the wind blows wrong, I can taste it,” Meyers, who lived closest to the plant, said. “So you can’t get out. You’re essentially imprisoned in your own home.”

(Photo of former Tribal Chairman Calvin Meyers by Chris Jordan-Bloch)

(Photo of former Tribal Chairman Calvin Meyers by Chris Jordan-Bloch)

Meyers was an environmental champion who died much too young. If he were alive today though, he would be smiling as comments that echoed his own made it from Moapa to the floor of the capitol.

“Coal-fired power plants have long polluted our state, threatening the health of thousands of Nevadans,” said Assemblyman David Bobzien, D-Reno, said on the Assembly floor. “Nevada has a bright future with clean energy.”

The Moapa Band of Paiutes agree with Bobzien. For the past several years they have been creating the largest solar plant on a native reservation in America. The plant will provide jobs and more than 250 megawatts of power.

“Our goal is not to be part of the problem, but to be part of the solution,” Tribal Chairman William Anderson said.

 

Tribal Chairman William Anderson

(Photo of Tribal Chairmain Willian Anderson by Chris Jordan-Bloch)

Earthjustice has been honored to fight alongside the Moapa Band of Paiutes in their search for the solution as they move from coal to renewables.

We have represented them in court cases about coal ash and air pollution. We have brought their members and their message to Washington, D.C. I even had the pleasure of creating a film and traveling to film festivals with members of the tribe to spread the word about their fight for health and clean energy.

We still have a long way to go to make sure that the law is implemented and that Reid Gardner is properly cleaned up and put away.

But let’s worry about that tomorrow. Today is a day to celebrate. The nightmare is ending. So open your eyes and smile, clean energy is not the future. It is now.

Photo of Vickie Simmons at Solar Station

(Photo of Vickie Simmons at Solar Station by Chris Jordan-Bloch)

 

RESPECT!! Respect for those who protect themselves, their families, Mother Earth and, ultimately, both nations --- the Piute Nation and the U.S.A. GRATITUDE!!

I AM SO HAPPY THE AMERICAN LAND IS TRANSFORMING 4 GOOD!!!
THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT AND UNCONSCIOUS POWER.

Bless all of you!!! We all can conquer the coal beast if we all stick together!! Your a beautiful example of it...How exciting this makes me feel as we are also fighting here in Oregon not to have the coal companies barge their dirty coal through our beautiful land. They tried to do back door deals but we found out and so far we've shut down 3 prospective coal docks and we have 3 more to go....I think we are ALL tired of greed polluting our land and killing our people to fill only pockets of the selfish and selfless...We will stand for no more!!!! Congratulations to you guys!!! You are our Inspirtation!!!

Blessed be the protectors of Mother Earth.

Congratulations to the Moapa Band.

I hope that NV Energy will choose more energy from geothermal resources. Nevada is rich in the 24/7, 365, clean, base-load renewable energy direct from Mother Earth. Geothermal Power plants are a sensible alternative to fossil fuel power plants.

What we need to do is to Federally fund research on alternative energy very aggressively and compel coal plants to put on scrubbers until they can be eliminated which will take years. Also, we need to foster action by China and India to stop building coal plants and to develop alternative energy plants rather than having them building coal burning plants which will overwhelm the planet with CO2. Also, we need to pressure the major television networks to address the issues with the violent weather which is being generated by the atmosphere which is become more violent fed by the elevated CO2 being deposited into the atmosphere by Coal fired generator plants.

One down, many more to follow hopefully. We have how many hundreds of thousands of acres of flat rooftops we can use for solar panels without even taking up land for them? Let's use that wasted space! That way we don't even have to "pollute" our view shed with solar panels.

it is wonderful to see humpty dumpty fall.

It is too bad that Duke Energy has to be sued and taken to court to finally do the right thing and I bet it isn't really over yet if they can help it.

way to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! bless you all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! love and peace!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A non coal society can happen. It takes small victories like this to see it happen. Congrats! I hope Duke Energy takes notice.

Congratulations. Great News. Continued success. Nina Diamante Nevada certainly has enough sun for sun power.

GLORY BE!!!!!! I felt so sad because it seemed that those determined to murder our beautiful planet were winning. Now, because this coal plant is down, others may take action, too. There may be a chance for us to survive this veritable tsunami of greed, otherwise known as the fossil fuel industry.

It is very heartening to read that this victory has occurred. It took a long time, many deaths and a lot of work for this to happen. Your victory is an inspiration to us all to keep fighting fossil fuels and broadcasting the death and destruction their use causes to people and to the land. I hope there is a way to prosecute the people responsible for running this coal fired plant which caused so much cancer, lung disease and death. There isn't really a way to set a price on the life of a human child or adult, but money seems to be the only way to get the attention of these hyenas. Congratulations.

Kill the coal !

There are so many BETTER energy alternatives to burning fossil fuels.

The traditionalists of the industrial revolution are so stodgy and reluctant to employ a similar degree of innovation that ushered in that era.

Favorable results for all mankind hinge on revolutionary and innovative new paradigms that break completely with the polluting forms of energy generation and fuel acquisition.

Exxon-Mobil, Shell, BP, Peabody Energy, Koch Industries, etc. have the financial resources to usher in this change but are reluctant to do so due to 'profit' considerations. I hope they go the way of the dodo bird. We need them like a hole in the head.

I love these victories. We know coal is not clean and unhealthy. Yeah for Nevada! With persistence, I think we can make this planet a better place to live and undo much of the damage we humans have caused.

Way to go! RENEWABLE CLEAN ENERGY FOR ALL! This story made me so happy today, I feel like celebrating. Congratulations to all of the good people that fought hard for this to happen, goes to show that sometimes a bloodless fight is worth fighting. Hoorah!

Thanks for all your effort, both Native Americans and Earth Justice. This will not only benefit the Moapa Tribe, but all Americans, as rejection of fossil fuels grows throughout the country from landmark victories such as this one.

who needs air conditioners

What a VICTORY for Nevada and for our ENVIRONMENT!!! This is the beginning....we
must keep fighting until ALL COAL PLANTS are SHUT DOWN forever!!! CONGRATULATIONS on this victory

It won't be over until the machines stop and the equipment is removed. Meanwhile, several hundred other coal-fired power plants are still polluting across the nation. We need laws that demand 100% safe recycling of all human-generated waste materials.

If Saving the Earth
via Google

We, with the help of Earth Justice, can make a big difference. What wonderful news. Thank you, thank you, thank you Earth Justice and all of us who support these momentous efforts!!

This proves that the only salvation possible for our democracy has to come from the people. Government in all it majesty and bravado is ridden with corruption and without the people insisting in justice for all government becomes rotten to the point of destroying every vestige of democracy. White Europeans devastated native Americans and now whites have to be saved from their craven ways by native Americans. How ironic is that?

I aver that nothing will prove more precisely the old Maxim: "What goes around, comes around", than the fact that what we continue to allow to be Sprayed on our Crops, Spilled onto our Land -including the Pesticide run-off from crops, spewed into our air, buried in our soil, dumped into our waters, Left in our sub-surface as a result of Hydraulic Mining (FRACKING) and Drilling operations, will soon be seen, smelt and tasted, in that order, as it comes back at us out of our spigots. Count on it!
The potential for the survival of our environment is related directly to the, insatiable, sociopathic GREED of the "Special Interests" and their carte blanche to continue to Pollute, Deceive the Public with specious Ads and, then, Pollute some more! As their GREED increases -and it will, our Environment will grow worse. Until the penalties for Ignoring Safety Rules and Regulations are made greater than the Profits gained through their perpetration, nothing will ever change. GREED is not only taking this Country down -if something isn’t done to curtail it NOW, it will soon Wipe Us the Hell Out!
We are our Environment’s Keeper!
If not us, WHO? Certainly not those who are profiting from its destruction.

Congratulations to them

Great news, congratulations to the Nevada State Legislature on passing SB123, and congratulations to the Moapa Paiutes for being tenacious enough to see this change through. This, folks, is how you fix the world! We're all in this together, and what affects them affects the rest of us as well, so any change for the better is necessary. We're trying to get rid of a coal-fired plant here in my hometown of Salem, MA - it can be done!

Amazing news! I feel like crying of joy, my eyes are literally watery. Way to go!

God bless you, NV legislators, for doing the right
thing for the People you represent and not
bowing to big money from dirty energy! Thank
you for giving hope.
(Remember hope, Mr. Obama?)

Good news! People over profit. That's at the heart of it.

As a native Nevadan this makes me so proud and so very happy for the Paiute People who are so important to the state of Nevada. This is inspirational and I hope other First Peoples and Nations will follow this path and lead America forward with clean energy sources that are safe and healthy for all living beings. The solar plant will help both the Earth and all of her children. It is time humans got real clear on what the right path is for energy and the future if they want a future; coal and other fossil fuels do not fit into that picture. Congratulations Moapa Band of the Paiute People.

This is such wonderful news!!! I am so thankful for all the efforts no matter how seemingly small - the synergy of all our efforts is really what makes all the difference. Thank you to everyone for your concern and efforts - we must continue to push back on this dangerous coal industry.

Coal-fired power plants generate about 140 MILLION tons of combustion wastes(Coal Ash among them) every year. Times(X) that by 10,20,30, etc. Years. These wastes contain some of the earth's most deadly pollutants, including toxic metals that can cause cancer and neurological harm in humans. It is Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Coal ash is the second largest industrial waste stream in the country and is essentially UNREGULATED.
I have said many times over the years, that the "Coal, Chemical, Petroleum, and Plastics Industries" are the Frankenstein’s of our planet.

I am overjoyed to read about this and to see that the tribe is working with solar energy. It's the only thing that makes sense besides cutting down on our wasteful use of power as well as eliminating purchases that are not sustainable.

Coal is Death. So are ALL fossil fuels! My uncle was a miner in the black coal country of West PA, later drove a truck for the strip mines that replaced the deep shafts. He, his daughter and his grandson all died of cancer, much too young. I'm proud that I became an environmental activist in the 60s--and still am. Now the greedos are doing mountaintop removal, so last year I scribbled off my latest doggerel parody, "Blow the Top Off Old Smoky," to the tune of "On Top of Old Smoky". Let's see if this site permits publishing something longer than just prose text:

I’m hacking and coughing,
and weep to recall
the greed of our Congress
and the growing gray pall.

It began in the cities,
spread so fast through the land
that people below us
couldn’t withstand.

They died by the millions,
but nobody cares.
Too late for us poor folks
to fight billionaires.

Smoke crept into our valleys
and rose toward the peak
in a spreading contagion
of foul-smelling reek.

Then the rich in their mansions
sent coal men up here.
The peak of Old Smoky
they proceeded to shear,

Blew the top off Old Smoky,
now it’s covered in ash
and stinks like a dumpster
loaded with trash.

They blew up our mountain
with dynamite sticks,
Because greedy rich men
rule politics.

On top of Old Smoky,
all covered in smoke,
I’m seeking my gravesite,
and that isn’t a joke.

Nicely said.
USMC Vet - WWII

Once again, our silly white asses are saved by the people who know something about how the universe works. Thank you Paiute Nation.

I remember going through the state of Pennsylvania, when I was a girl,where there are slag heaps, leftovers from the coal mining done throughout the area. Nothing would grow there then, and nothing much grows there now, 70 years later. There are pits with water where I doubt anything can live. Now, Pa. is allowing hydro-fracking to extract natural gas from shale. There are pits where the water and chemicals used in this process are being stored. As one local advocate in New York where I live, states, there will be accidents, actually, there have been some already. Let's hope New York will not go the way of Pennsylvania, and maybe have to pay a steep price down the road. Cleaning up polluted sights is costly. Better to opt for clean energy now. Congratulations to the Paiute tribe of Nevada for their persistence, and to the Nevada assembly, for finally doing the right thing!

Coal-fired power plants generate about 140 MILLION tons of combustion wastes every year. Times(X) that by 10,20,30 Years. These combustion wastes contain some of the earth's most deadly pollutants, including toxic metals that can cause cancer and neurological harm in humans. It is Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Coal ash is the second largest industrial waste stream in the country and is essentially UNREGULATED. I have said many times over the years, that the "Coal, Chemical, Petroleum, and Plastics Industries" are the Frankenstein’s of our planet!

There is no such thing as ”CLEAN” Coal. Ask any Coal Miner or any Coal Miner’s family who lost a loved one to “Black Lung” Disease.
“Black Lung” Disease was a common name for any Lung Disease developing from inhaling Coal Dust some years back. Today, so as to cover its association with Coal, it goes by the Medical name of Pneumoconiosis.
COAL ASH By Product PRESENTS EVEN GREATER HEALTH THREATS to the entire public!

no coal

no coal

Halleluja! I have lived on the Crow reservation for 1 year in Lodge Grass where I taught 5th grade at a 100% Crow school. We had to watch mile long trains filled with coal cars daily several times a day go through here. I have done what I can to educate my students, not enough.

This reservation has billions of tons of coal under its feet. However, it would be wise if these people were educated on this subject, and would educate their children on the effects of the coal being extracted and the world wide contribution to climate change, as well as other toxic health hazards.

These coal cars head to the Pacific Northwest and then get loaded onto boats in the ports there to get shipped off to China, who buys the coal very cheaply and then burns it in their outdated polluting incinerators to create dirty energy!

Recently I saw a front page news article where the tribal chair peoples celebrated another contract signed with the white man on getting more coal out. Sad, sad, sad. A quick dollar to contaminate the future and the present. Still these people are being exploited, and they are happy about it, as they do not understand or do not want to see the implications of what is being done. It's a quick buck for thousands of years of bad, in as far as the pollution and contamination is concerned.

Hopefully these people will realize that they can put up windmills and collect solar. This area is prime candidate for that too. Why take the dirty alternative? Sure it will cost money to develop at first - use the money made from the coal sales! However, then it will create jobs and a sustainable constant source of income.

Crows, realize that the white man is STILL EXPLOITING YOU AND YOU ARE GOING ALONG WITH IT SMILES ON YOUR FACES! - THE REST OF THE WORLD SUFFERS TOO!
- FROM A WHITE WOMAN WITH A NATIVE CHILD BOTH OF WHOM ARE LINKED DEEPLY TO MOTHER EARTH. STOP RAPING YOUR MOTHER!!!!!!!!!!! LOOK WHAT THE PAIUTES HAVE ACCOMPLISHED.

God bless all those who voted with their hearts and innate intelligence to put an end to the misery of these people and the destruction of their land and the air they breathe. Solar is defenitely one of the answers .Tesla has a lot more ideas we could make use of. Just recently I read of a device that converts all plastic into fuel. It's about as big as a trash can runs on very little electricity and every kitchen should have one...Invented by the Japanese. Namaste!

I wish to know more about the device a device that converts all plastic into fuel. It's about as big as a trash can! this would be one of the most helpful inventions to save the planet!!!! Please help to find out more! Thanx, Gaby Hoffmann

I wish to know more about the device a device that converts all plastic into fuel. It's about as big as a trash can! this would be one of the most helpful inventions to save the planet!!!! Please help to find out more! Thanx, Gaby Hoffmann

I wish to know more about the device a device that converts all plastic into fuel. It's about as big as a trash can! this would be one of the most helpful inventions to save the planet!!!! Please help to find out more! Thax, Gaby Hoffmann

Congratulations to the Paiutes Health and Environmental Committee! You continue to inspire folks across the nation to stand up for a clean and healthful environment. Several years ago your story of persistence helped to inspire our community to successfully organize and rally against a coal-fired power plant that was planned for the middle of Montana. We also were given crucial help by the dedicated team of Earthjustice and the Montana Environmental Information Center. As a result our local "Citizens for Clean Energy" continues to be a vigilant nonpartisan force for positive change in Montana.

Congratulations to the Paiutes Health and Environmental Committee! You continue to inspire folks across the nation to stand up for a clean and healthful environment. Several years ago your story of persistence helped to inspire our community to successfully organize and rally against a coal-fired power plant that was planned for the middle of Montana. We also were given crucial help by the dedicated team of Earthjustice and the Montana Environmental Information Center. As a result our local "Citizens for Clean Energy" continues to be a vigilant nonpartisan force for positive change in Montana.

Indian Chief "Two Eagles" was asked by a white government official: "You have observed the white man for 90 years.
You've seen his wars and his technological advances. You've seen his progress, and the damage he's done."
The Chief nodded in agreement.
The official continued, "Considering all these events, in your opinion, where did the white man go wrong?"
The Chief stared at the government official for a minute and then calmly replied.
"When white man find land, Indians running it, no taxes, no debt, plenty buffalo, plenty beaver, clean water, clean air. Women did all the work, Medicine man free. Indian man spend all day hunting and fishing, all night having fun. Everybody prosper, everybody happy."
Then the chief leaned back, smiled and replied: "Only white man Greedy and dumb enough to think he could improve system like that".

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