Politics

Dirty Coal Power Ends in Nevada with Last Smog Plant Closed

In a victory for clean air and healthy communities, the last remaining coal-fired generating station in Southern Nevada has closed. NV Energy has operated the Reid-Gardner Generating Station in Moapa, Nev., northeast of Las Vegas, for the last five decades.

Leaders with the national and local chapters of the Sierra Club, and for community leaders of the Moapa Band of Paiutes, who live adjacent to the plant and have long been concerned about health impacts from the burning of coal, have worked for years to close the plant, which also was implicated in the pollution that dirtied the skies over the Grand Canyon National Park about 50 miles southeast of Moapa.

“The closure of the Reid-Gardner coal fired power plant is a testament to persistence and good policy,” said Jennifer Taylor, executive director, Clean Energy Project. “The hard work from various environmental, Native American, public health and clean energy advocacy groups, led by Sierra Club and Moapa Band of Paiute Indians, helped bring this issue to the forefront and help develop legislation and policies to virtually eliminate coal generated energy from Nevada’s energy mix.”

“There is no such thing as clean coal, and underrepresented communities like the Moapa Paiute Tribe have been suffering from this coal plant for decades,” said Vinny Spotleson, program director for Nevada Conservation League. “As the largest polluter in Southern Nevada shuts down, we have a big opportunity to continue the transition to clean energy. We have to thank the Nevada Legislature and Governor Sandoval for passing a law in 2013 to make this happen, and now in this 2017 session we hope they will continue to take strong action and pass important legislation to put Nevada back in the lead nationally on solar and other sources of clean energy.”

Soot pollution—a by-product from burning fossil fuels that results in small particles in the air composed of a mixture of metals, chemicals, and acid droplets—is one of the deadliest and most dangerous air pollutants. The smallest soot particles are less than one-thirtieth the width of a human hair. Because of its minuscule size, this fine particulate matter can travel deep into our lungs and even enter the bloodstream. Exposure to soot pollution is extremely dangerous and is linked to premature death, heart attacks, lung damage, and a variety of other significant health problems. Stronger soot standards could avoid up to 35,700 premature deaths, 23,290 visits to the emergency room, and 2.7 million days of missed work or school due to air pollution-caused ailments every year.

“The short-term challenge of closing the Reid-Gardner Power Plant is far outweighed by the long-term benefit to the children and future generations of Nevada,” said Jerry Holliday of the Uplift Foundation.

“The Moapa Band of Paiutes is relieved that Reid Gardner Power Station is finally ceasing operations with the closure of Unit 4,” the Moapa Band of Paiutes Tribal Council said in a statement. “We applaud NV Energy for standing by its commitment to retire this plant, which has been a source of environmental and health concerns to the tribe and its members for a long time. We hope that NV Energy and our other neighbors join us in leading the way toward developing more renewable energy sources that create jobs, clean power, and opportunity right here in Nevada.”

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