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Showing posts with the label Nevada

Mount Charleston Blue Butterfly

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Mount Charleston blue butterfly as endangered in September, which should result in more resources to protect this species from vanishing.  The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is only known to occur in the higher reaches of the Spring Mountains in Nevada, west and northwest of Las Vegas. 

The butterfly's population is likely declining, although information gaps preclude us from quantifying its population trends.  The species is believed to be extirpated from six of 16 locations that it has been known to inhabit, and it is only "presumed" to occupy eight of the 10 other locations.  In other words, it may exist in 10 relatively confined locations throughout the mountains, but for eight of those locations it probably has only a tentative existence, at best.

The butterfly faces a threat from climate change - more extreme precipitation and drought patterns are expected in the southwest - and collecting by poachers.  Because of threa…

Solar Decathlon Where It Belongs

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The Solar Decathlon is being held in California at long last.  The competition was first held in 2002, and features homes powered by rooftop solar panels, and built by teams from across the country and overseas competing to be the most sustainable in various categories.  The overall winning team must design and build a home that meets the following general criteria:

Is affordable, attractive, and easy to live inMaintains comfortable and healthy indoor environmental conditionsSupplies energy to household appliances for cooking, cleaning, and entertainmentProvides adequate hot waterProduces as much or more energy than it consumes. Consider the "DesertSol" entry designed and built by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).  The DeserSol house uses a solar thermal system to heat water and the home itself, photovoltaic panels to supply energy, and advanced engineering that reduces framing materials by nearly 20%.  The entry will be on display at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve …

Demanding Sustainable Clean Energy in Nevada

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Industry leaders, government officials, and environmentalists gathered today in Las Vegas at the National Clean Energy Summit to discuss policy and business developments affecting the renewable energy industry.  The Sierra Club's national office used the occasion of the Clean Energy Summit to celebrate K Road's Moapa solar project, which will destroy three square miles of intact desert habitat located over thirty miles from the energy guzzling Las Vegas strip.   In a Facebook posting earlier this evening, the Sierra Club thanked its followers for supporting the "large solar farm" outside the city, featuring a photo of Sierra Club members rallying in front of the desert lands that are destined for the bulldozer.   The Sierra Club could have celebrated plans to close the dirty Reid Gardner coal plant, and the announcement of one of the largest rooftop solar projects in the world planned for a Las Vegas resort.
It is sad when a government official is quicker to promote s…

Desert National Wildlife Refuge: Vote for Your Favorite Photo

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The Desert National Wildlife Refuge complex is hosting a photo contest, and you can vote for your favorite photo at the contest website.  Check out the photos and show your support!


Nevada Legislature Passes SB 123

The Nevada legislature passed SB 123, which will ultimately shut down the Reid Gardner coal plant and provide relief for the Moapa Band of Paiutes living next to the facility.  The bill also likely locks Nevada into natural gas investments, however.  Although amended since the last time I reviewed the text, the bill that passed the legislature yesterday still requires 550 MW of energy from "other electrical generating plants," in addition to the 350 MW of new renewable energy generation required by the bill.   That 550 MW is likely to be generated by new natural gas facilities, and previous iterations of the bill made it clear that the "other electrical" generation would be natural gas.

It is not a surprise that this passed with bi-partisan support in Nevada given that this bill is a win-win situation for industry.  The bill provides Nevada utilities with a fresh excuse to invest in more infrastructure to support its central station model, including natural gas pi…

Nevada Embraces the Bridge, Not the Solution

The Nevada legislature introduced a bill (S.B. 123) that would drastically reduce the state's dependence on coal power plants, but introduce an equal amount of natural gas generation and additional transmission lines that will continue to wreck Nevada's wild landscapes.  The bill proposes to eliminate no less than 800 megawatts of coal-fired generation capacity, but requires utility companies to acquire or construct 700 to 800 megawatts of natural gas generation, in addition to 600 megawatts from renewable energy sources.  The bill does not contain specific provisions that would encourage distributed generation,  and offers only meager encouragement for utility companies to improve energy efficiency.

So not only will Nevada continue to draw a large portion of energy from fossil fuels, Nevada's most significant step into renewable energy is almost certain to be guided by utility companies that profit the most when they build destructive infrastructure on public lands, inste…