Author: Thomas Mitchell

How Will Energy Choice Affect Rural Nevada?

Part 2 If the Energy Choice Initiative (ECI) amending the state Constitution to create a competitive market for electricity passes again in the fall its impact on power bills in rural Nevada will depend on how the Legislature writes the rules to make it happen. David Luttrell — general manager of the Lincoln County Power District No. 1, president of the Nevada Rural Electric Association and a member of the Governor’s Committee on Energy Choice — notes that proponents of the ballot measure insist existing utilities should divest themselves of their power generating assets and current contracts to purchase power. Luttrell says there is uncertainty about what energy choice would look like in the coming years, saying, “The vast majority of it will be written by the next couple of sessions of the state Legislature. The only thing that really you can point to in that document and that amendment language is that a single person in the state of Nevada will have choice of some sort.” One of the problems faced by the rural cooperatives Luttrell points out is fixed cost. While NV Energy has 40 to 50 customers per mile of power lines, rural cooperatives statewide only have five customers per mile, while in Lincoln County there are only two per mile. The way the cooperatives keep rates competitive is that many get as much as 80...

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Free Market Is Better for the Internet

The debate continues over whether the Federal Communications Commission’s December repeal of the Obama administration’s “net neutrality” rule will help or hurt rural communities’ bid for greater access to high-speed Internet service, and now it has become an issue in this year’s race for a Nevada U.S. Senate seat. Recently there was a vote in the Senate using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) in an attempt to restore net neutrality rules. The vote was 52-47 with every Democrat and three Republicans voting in favor. Nevada’s senior Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican, voted against it. Its chances of clearing the House are slim and President Trump would likely veto it anyway. Las Vegas Democratic Congresswoman Jacky Rosen, who is running for Heller’s seat and is likely to advance to November after the June 12 primary, proudly announced in a press release that she signed a discharge petition to force a vote in the House on the Senate-approved CRA to restore net neutrality protections. In a recent interview, Sen. Heller said, “We had a vote last week and I voted against the CRA that would take us back to Title II, which frankly is 1930s-type regulation. If you go back to Ma Bell, for those of you who remember Ma Bell, frankly that’s how they want to regulate the Internet, and that was reversed.” Title II of the Communications Act of...

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BLM Publishes New Plans to Protect Sage Grouse

The Bureau of Land Management under the Trump administration has followed through on its promise to give states greater flexibility on protecting greater sage grouse. On Friday a 204-page draft management plan for Nevada and northeastern California was published in the Federal Register. The plan specifically states that its purpose is to enhance cooperation with the states by modifying sage grouse management to better align with the plans created by Nevada and California, covering more than 45 million acres under the jurisdiction of the BLM. Though it was determined that sage grouse did not qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act, in 2015 the Obama administration violated the law and ignored scientific evidence when it concocted a 341-page pronouncement that 10 million acres of public land in 16 Western states — nearly a third of that in Nevada — would be taken out of consideration for future mining claims, as well as oil and gas drilling near breeding grounds and that there would be additional reviews on grazing permits. The plan envisioned restrictions on grazing, resource development, solar and wind energy, and public access to public land in Nevada. According to a press release put out by the BLM announcing the new plans, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval welcomed the more cooperative stance by the agency. “I look forward to reviewing the draft Environmental Impact Statement and I trust...

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Why Education Spending Should Be Cut

Teachers are walking out of classrooms in Colorado and Arizona, demanding higher salaries and more education funding. Lawmakers are rushing to meet their demands. Here in Nevada all the candidates for governor are kowtowing to the demand for more education funding. Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt has declared, “We must continue to move forward, not backward, in the areas where we’ve made great strides. In particular, Nevada policymakers have implemented a series of programs designed to address a critical area — improving early literacy. I’ll continue to champion these promising new programs. I pledge that under my leadership, these programs and our entire public education system will be properly funded — we will never go backwards from our current levels of education spending. I repeat: I will not scale back public education funding.” His Republican opponent Treasurer Dan Schwartz has said he wants to find a way to wrest the $750 million in tax money earmarked for a Raiders football stadium and redirect it to fund education. Democratic candidates and currently Clark County Commissioners Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani have both called for more education spending. “Every child in Nevada deserves the opportunity to succeed and that starts with strong public schools,” Sisolak states on his campaign website. “Steve supports investing in Nevada schools so they have the resources to provide a safe and effective learning environment for all...

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Beware of California Censorship Law

Maybe it is time to update that old hippie paean that goes, “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair,” to: “If you’re going to California, be sure to leave your Bible at home.” Like Nevada, California has a law on the books making it illegal for any therapist to provide so-called conversion therapy to anyone under the age of 18. In Nevada that is defined as “any practice or treatment that seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a person.” It is illegal no matter whether the child or his or her parents are willing participants. Recently the California Assembly passed Assembly Bill 2943 on a vote of 50-14, making it unlawful to advertise, offer to engage in or engage in any effort whatsoever to change anyone’s sexual orientation by anyone at all. The bill specifically states: “Courts, including in California, have recognized the practice of sexual orientation change efforts as a commercial service. Therefore, claims that sexual orientation change efforts are effective in changing an individual’s sexual orientation, may constitute unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business practices under state consumer protection laws. This bill intends to make clear that sexual orientation change efforts are an unlawful practice under California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act.” Now, there are a number of passages in the Christian Bible and, or so we’re...

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