Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed a law Tuesday that accelerates the closing of the state's two coal plants, and environmental and Native activists are applauding his decision -- but they're also pointing out there's a lot more work left to do.
The new law, which was approved by the Nevada legislature on May 31, directs the state's largest utility NV Energy to shut down its 557-megawatt Reid Gardner plant by 2017, with most of the plant closing in 2014.
The law was supported and in fact partly written by NV Energy, which serves most of the state. The utility's other coal plant, a 522-megawatt facility near Valmy, is set to close in 2025.
The Reid Gardner plant has long been a thorn in the side, and in the lungs, of the Moapa Band of Paiutes, whose reservation lies adjacent to the plant and its coal ash landfill.
"The Moapa Band of Paiutes thanks Governor Sandoval, Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada legislature, and all the people that supported our fight to close the Reid Gardner coal plant that for decades poisoned our reservation" said Vickie Simmons, leading member of the Moapa Band of Paiutes Health and Environmental Committees. "It's now time to move forward. The area around the Reid Gardner plant needs to be fully cleaned up and full remediation must take place so that the coal ash waste does not continue to contaminate the land, air, and water near where our families live."
"The real work begins now," added the Sierra Club's Jane Feldman. "NV Energy needs to move as expeditiously as possible to close its coal plants -- including the North Valmy power plant. It is equally important that the coal pollution cleanup and remediation gets under way at the Reid Gardner site. The Moapa Paiutes have waited long enough."