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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)

 

Obviously you are a man!

Obviously, but I miss your point.

America at its best.. First we kill the men and rape the woman. Then we rape the land and by doing so we kill whoever is left. Then we wave the Stars & Strips and claim, America home of the brave and land of the free... Very sad, God bless the Paiutes/ Moapa band. Keep up the good work. dgk

Solar energy is the only energy that makes sense here in Southern Nevada. It makes no sense to me that its been otherwise. Except politics and the strong arm of the coal and oil industry. Since DOEs creation in 1972 they have done little to create alternative energy available to the American people. This is good legislation, for a change.

I am thrilled that this has happened for them. I wish the same for myself here in Kemper County, MS. A lignite coal plant is being built as I write this. It is going to destroy this pristine area of trees and habitat. It is without question a horror show unfolding right before my eyes.

I hope you have taken steps to ensure EARTHJUSTICE and other 'eco org's knows about this! Have the people in your town begun any type of action at all? Constructing NEW coal plants is counteractive to renewable and clean energy plans not only there but everywhere. Just how good is all the good, when the opposing side is always renewing.? The fact that you posted this testifies to your concern. Please take at least one more step towards getting the awareness of this absurdity out there quickly. Good luck!

Barbara, my ancestors settled in Scuba Mississippi, in Kemper County I believe. Their log cabin still sits there. A family member wrote a book 'Its a long Way from Scuba' about their struggles in settling there. I would live to try to help save Kemper County from environmental destruction. Please let me know if there is an organization I can help with. Julie

The ecocide fossil Barons have been served notice. No corporation should be allowed to profit from the pollution and exploitation of the commons. If pollution is required because of the lack of current alternatives, (which is not the case any longer), then there must be mitigation costs built into the cost structure to finance a sustainable. Those costs must include any adverse health costs to the people. Ideally Universal Health Care for pollution affects one and all to greater or lesser degrees.

Stop profits from the pollution of the commons. The GOP do not fund abortion. Fine. A precedent. Why must the population be forced to fund the ecocide of the planet vis billion $$$ tax subsidies to the Fossil Barons and Wall Street?

Go GREEN. Resistance is fatal to Earth's life support systems.

Tax rebellion anyone?

Let's hope this is the wave of the future. Thanks to all the brave people who are fighting for a cleaner and healthier Planet Earth.

This is a great win for the good guys and the Earth! Im from Maine and we are currently battling the big Water companies and oil companies in small towns across our great state! The Tar Sands movement has been shutdown by six towns so far but big water is winning big! Nestle is one of the most influencial water corporations in Maine and they are making huge grabs at public water sources across the state! Large water companies across the nation get most of their water for free and then sell it back to the public as purified water. Water giants like Nestle must be stopped before companies take over ownership of all the public water sources in America! This is just another example of how irresponsible most large companies do business. It sickens me how little so many large corporations care about the World we all including themselves live in!

Let's hope this is the wave of the future. Thanks to all the brave people who are fighting for a cleaner and healthier Planet Earth.

I celebrate and rejoice for you and for all of us in this victory!
No carbon-no nukes!
Hattie Nestel, Ma.

Great news, long overdue, we hope this will give impetus to close the rest.

Great to see - and STRESS it's not black and white - all of su and the planet deserve safer , cleaner fuel and energy - the solution is a compromise that will SAVE lives and lifestyle ...power companies & miners need to realise we own the resources and they CANNOT just rape the earth short term without regard to others. Happening all over the world - even in my tiny island of Tasmania in Australia - politicians are short term thinkers -totally absorbed in their political career and income and they will rubber stamp ANYTHING .

Close all the coal fired power plants and replace with safe renewable energy where possible let natives run and work these new options. Treat us who oppose oil and gas especially coal not as terrorists but part of a new brighter fututre.

its a good thing
but does it let them off the hook for past damages?

Congrats on the win, folks! We here in the Lehigh Valley of PA have also gotten a dirty power plant shut down, the one in Portland, PA. I just wish we could all pick up the pace on these gains a bit. I have too many friends fighting cancer and struggling with thyroid problems.

Congrats, Keep up the good work and be sure the jobs are created for these people...

I rejoice in you pleasure! No more coal anywhere. Wind, solar, biofuels whatever helps the planet and it's people. What happens next will be interesting, but my joy is yours.

That's beautiful!

Big step in right direction.

Thank you Nevada for putting people first. Maybe other states will follow along.

I'm very impressed with the Nevada Assembly !! They approved their SB123 shifting Nevada away from coal-fired power and directed NV Energy towards more renewable energy development. I wish that state legislators here in Virginia were as conscientious !! We've got a lot of coal-related issues here in Virginia: coal-fired power plants, mountaintop removal mining (horrible). The Nevada legislature has set a good example ! Thanks !! I know Nevada legislators received a lot of pressure from the Big Coal Industry. Thanks to members of the Nevada legislature for standing strong and doing the right thing for people and our environment!! HAPPY NEWS!!
-from JenniferL in rural Virginia

Very good news! The only good coal is the stuff left in the ground.

Blessings to the Moapa for their courage, fortitude, and foresight. God bless this day of celebration and healing and the memory of those lost in the struggle. They are smiling down from His side today. Renewed is my faith in goodness and dignity.

Blessings to the Moapa for their courage, fortitude, and foresight. God bless this day of celebration and healing and the memory of those lost in the struggle. They are smiling down from His side today. Renewed is my faith in goodness and dignity.

This is so heartwarming to know that good can really triumph over evil when good people set their minds to it.

This is so heartwarming to know that good can really triumph over evil when good people set their minds to it.

Blessings to the Moapa for their courage, fortitude, and foresight. God bless this day of celebration and healing and the memory of those lost in the struggle. They are smiling down from His side today. Renewed is my faith in goodness and dignity.

This is simply fantastic news. If we all, together, fight back against these plants that are polluting our beautiful earth, we will experience even more success. Thank you Earth Justice and all who are part of this victory Yay for Nevada....

Thank you for persevering in your fight against dirty energy. We all benefit from that.

GREAT! Way to go!! Keep up the good work and the pressure on Big Coal! Thanks for Earthjustice's efforts!!

-from JenniferL in rural Virginia

Congratulations to the Piutes, Earthjustice and thanks to the state of Nevada for doing the SMART thing.

Good...

Consider the Connection to:
Environmental Communication CTC1 [ECW] (Environmental Communication Website)
www.facebook.com Jerry Lee Mayeux
www.twitter.com/CTC123GREEN
www.pbckt.com/aY.8V1o

Congratulations to the Paiutes tribe and to Earth Justice. It's so refreshing to hear of a victory in the battle against pollution and greed. May your air and water flow clean and beautiful soon.

Excellent point Pascal. Yes we need to get our head our of the sandbox and into a larger vision - solar would suggest the stars. I do believe we have all the ability to address the issues of Global Warming right here on planet earth. We need the support of the people and we need leadership. Our runaway capitalism is devastating the planet.

Thnis is good news. This story has haunted me.

Yay!! I am so happy for the Paiutes of Nevada!!!! I congradulate all of you for your victory!

The example of the tribal wisdom is inspiring. I hope the rest of the nation picks up up clean sources of energy and segues to sane energy solutions
that benefit the earth and the people of the earth.

The example of the tribal wisdom is inspiring. I hope the rest of the nation picks up up clean sources of energy and segues to sane energy solutions
that benefit the earth and the people of the earth.

The example of the tribal wisdom is inspiring. I hope the rest of the nation picks up up clean sources of energy and segues to sane energy solutions
that benefit the earth and the people of the earth.

Very good news indeed. And very appropriate that it should be native indian people who should l ead the way in moving our society away fromdirty coal and oil, demonstrating that we can, infact, be weaned away from our dependency on such filthy energy sources.

Moreoever a less-sung benefit of renewables is that they are decentralised and can be produced, for the most part, right where they can be consumed. This dminishes the need for vast energy distribution infrastructure and the enegy losses that come with it. Our collective future on this earth depends, in part, on how fast and effectively we can move, decisively, away from coal, oil and gas, to clean, renewable and decentralised energy sources and learn to live with less waste, more responsibly, take our heads out of the sandbox and accept the reality of human-induced global climate change and own up to the challenge it presents..

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