Now that the dust has settled from the 2015 Legislative Session, it’s easy to forget how uncertain Nevada’s future looked back in February. Many conservationists were concerned about potential rollbacks to key environmental programs. However, despite the dire predictions by some, the 2015 legislature was more of a mixed bag. While we certainly saw our share of anti-conservation ideas like privatizing public lands and rolling back renewable energy investments, we also saw progress on funding for Lake Tahoe and our state’s conservation districts.
While this session will likely be remembered for antics having little to do with our issues, the conservation community can take pride in the way that Nevadans turned out to support keeping our public lands in public hands. This legislative session saw two significant pieces of legislation that took aim at the concept of public lands. Senate Joint Resolution 1 was the outgrowth of a flawed study undertaken by the Nevada Land Management Task Force in the 2014 interim period.
Armed with the results of this study, advocates for privatizing our public lands came to Carson City with the argument that there were millions to be made by transferring federal public lands to state control. Hundreds of Nevadans turned out to tell the truth; that our state was in no position to pay the costs of land management and that the likely result would be selling our hunting and fishing lands to private interests. Unfortunately, we were not successful in our efforts to defeat SJR 1, but the efforts paid off with the resounding defeat of AB 408. This was a bill that was written with the full guidance of Cliven Bundy and his family, and watching the bill die on the Assembly floor was a satisfying victory for all that care about our public lands.
Other issues were debated during the session and a few good bills were passed into law, including a bill to allow for our state’s conservation districts to raise local money for conservation projects and a bill to eliminate the requirement to waste reams of paper printing the property tax rolls. Unfortunately, legislators passed a very significant bill on the very last day of the session, rolling back the landmark 2013 bill (SB 123) that shifted Nevada away from dirty coal and invested in clean, renewable sources. This eleventh hour attack shows the power that wealthy interests have in our state when they put their influence behind an idea, however ill-informed.
We hope that you use this scorecard to gauge how strongly your representatives support important conservation issues. Please thank those who stand up for clean energy and our public lands, and ask those who voted against Nevadans’ interests why. As you know, conservation victories do not happen by accident. NCLEF is hard at work working with other groups and leaders to devise pro-conservation policy. Please consider making a donation to the Nevada Conservation League Education Fund. Together, we can make conservation a priority in Nevada.
Nevada Conservation League Education Fund