On Friday, June 17, 2022, the American Security Project held a virtual event titled “Earth, Fire, Wind, Water: Climate Considerations in Nevada.” A panel of five experts convened to discuss various aspects of Nevada’s transition to clean energy and was moderated by ASP’s Senior Fellow for Climate Security, Jessica Olcott Yllemo. Panelists included the Deputy Director for the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Kristopher Sanchez, the Executive Director of the Nevada Clean Energy Fund, Kirsten Stasio, former Commanding Officer of the Nellis Air Force Base and ASP Consensus for American Security Member, Colonel Dave Belote, research professor at the Desert Research Institute, Dr. Tamara Wall, and Nevada Congresswoman, Dina Titus.
The panel began with a question posed to Mr. Sanchez about Nevada’s recent transition to a whole-government approach to combating climate change. Mr. Sanchez emphasized that a whole-government approach is necessary when facing an issue like climate change, as it affects almost every governmental agency. He also explained that although Nevada is just recently implementing this approach, they are focused on fostering both cross-government initiatives and cross-state collaboration. Ms. Stasio further specified that a whole-government approach means that the state must utilize a wide range of efforts to combat climate change, from preparing citizens for extreme heat conditions to working to reducing carbon emissions from vehicles.
The conversation then shifted to a discussion surrounding how climate advocacy has evolved over recent decades. Dr. Wall said that in recent years policy advocates have been focusing on translating scientific research on climate change into language better understood by policymakers. Colonel Belote then spoke on the ways that the renewable energy sectors have evolved in Nevada. He brought up that from 2007 to 2011, Nevada had the largest photovoltaic array in North America at Nellis Air Force Base, where he was a prior Commanding Officer. However, the state is now facing new challenges and it tries to expand its clean energy sector. Specifically, although Nevada has the largest potential for solar power in the U.S., the limited availability of public lands will be a challenge for the expansion of clean energy generation.
The conversation then turned to look at new innovations and projects in the work of the panelists. Dr. Wall talked about a recent project that focuses on developing air quality monitors that do not require Wi-Fi or access to electricity and recent efforts for funding for a full climate assessment for Nevada. Ms. Stasio then discussed her recent work which looks at the increased need for air conditioning and how it acutely affects low-income families, who sometimes need to choose between turning on the AC and putting food on the table. Mr. Sanchez focused on the Clean Cars Initiative in Nevada, explaining that this transition requires specific planning in rural areas to ensure widespread access to serviceable charging stations. Colonel Belote expanded on this point to include the importance of charging networks in Air Force bases as the U.S. military transitions to electric vehicles. Congresswoman Titus added that 5.5 million dollars have already been allocated for Nevada’s transition to electric vehicles.
The conversation closed with a question posed by Dr. Wall. She asked the other panelists how they are working to mitigate the negative consequences of clean energy transitions in rural areas on tribal and low-income communities. Ms. Stasio and Congresswoman Titus used this opportunity to emphasize that clean energy must not only be available to high-income citizens but also low-income citizens living in both rural and urban environments.