Valley Electric’s board considers changes to net metering policy

Hundreds of Valley Electric Association Inc.'s members that take advantage of the co-op's net metering program could see a change in the current rates that are paid. Valley's board will consider a tiered system at the co-op's next board meeting.

By Jeffrey Meehan ~ Pahrump Valley Times

June 21, 2019 - 7:00 am

Valley Electric Association Inc.’s board of directors is set to mull over potential changes to the co-op’s current net metering policy.

The new policy, set to be taken up at Valley’s June 26 board meeting, would lower the current rate of 100 percent, or 11.9 cents per kilowatt-hour, to a tiered system where those with solar would get 75-95 percent of the current rate, “depending on when the member-generator interconnected with the VEA grid,” according to a news release from Valley.

That comes out to 9 cents a kilowatt hour under the 75 percent bracket, according to Interim Chief Executive of Valley Electric Association Inc. Dick Peck.

According to the co-op, the new policy would mirror Assembly Bill 405 on net metering, which was signed into law in 2017 by then-Gov. Brian Sandoval. Net metering is where those with rooftop solar get a credit for the excess energy they return to the grid.

Valley is exempt from the law but offers the program to local customers wanting to install solar, according to a news release from the co-op.

The co-op currently offers 100 percent, or 11.9 cents per kilowatt-hour for the excess energy it sends back to the grid.

Tiered system

Under the proposed net metering policy, VEA policy No. 136, members of Valley installing solar will follow a tiered system, which will be “tied to the date that a completed application to install a net-metering system was received,” according to Valley’s news release.

According to Valley, the first solar generator interconnected to the co-op in 2006 and has grown into the hundreds since that time.

Overall, the system is set that the earlier an application was put in, the higher the reimbursement rate.

For Tier One, where members who interconnected with Valley prior to the generation amount exceeded 1.25 megawatts, those members will receive 95 percent of the full retail rate of 11.9 cents per kilowatt hour. The 1.25 megawatt threshold was crossed in 2015, according to Valley’s release.

Tier Two includes those members that brought the generation from 1.25 to 2.5 megawatts, which occurred in 2017. Under that tier, members will be paid 88 percent of the full retail rate.

Tier Three will be paid 81 percent of the full retail rate for excess energy. This group brought the generated amount from “2.5-3.75 megawatts” in 2019.

Members falling under Tier Four will be reimbursed 75 percent of Valley’s full retail rate.

“The majority of VEA’s generation of renewable energy by members comes in the form of solar, but some members generate power with wind turbines,” Valley’s release stated. “Since the total number of applications in house would bring the system size to nearly 6 megawatts, virtually all new applications would be reimbursed at 75% of the retail rate.”

“With these revisions, Valley Electric will be in line with state law, which serves to encourage the development of solar generation,” Peck said in a news release. “The wholesale power rate is approximately 4 cents per kilowatt-hour, but we had been paying our member-generators 11.9 cents for their excess power. We have to always remember that members who do not generate renewable energy are subsidizing those who do.”

According to Peck, the number of member-generators has grown significantly in the past couple years, which is prompting the need for revisions to the co-op’s policy.

In a news release, Peck estimated that Valley paid $230,000 for power under its net metering program in 2018.

Valley currently has over 600 generators that participate in Valley’s net metering program, equating to approximately 3 percent of the membership, according to Valley’s release.

The number of generators did not pass 100 until 2014, according to Valley’s release.

The topic will be taken up at Valley’s next board meeting at the co-op’s administrative offices in Pahrump. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. at 800 E. Highway 372.

Source: Valley Electric’s board considers changes to net metering policy


Federal effort seeks to fight domestic violence

The U.S. Department of Justice is leading a new effort to fight domestic violence. U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr announced details earlier this week.
 

U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr recently announced the formation of a Domestic Violence Working Group aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of convicted domestic abusers, using the tools of federal prosecution to stop and prevent domestic violence.

The group will operate under the auspices of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee (AGAC) and be comprised of nine U.S. attorneys across the country, chaired by U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.

“Too often, domestic abusers start with threats and abuse, and end up committing extreme violence and even homicide, with devastating impact on families and the community around them,” Barr said in a news release that provided details. “I have directed this working group to examine this issue and determine the best way to use federal gun prosecutions and other appropriate tools to supplement state, local and tribal efforts to address domestic violence.”

Cox said: “With so many domestic disputes escalating from bruises to bullets, we felt we needed to supplement our state and local partners’ efforts to curb domestic violence with federal prosecutions. We hope our initial cases send a message to convicted abusers: Not only could the Justice Department theoretically prosecute abusers for firearm possession – they have and they will.”

Federal law has long barred convicted felons, as well as individuals subject to certain domestic violence protective orders or convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors, from possessing firearms.

The Justice Department news release said:

Offenders with domestic violence in their past pose a remarkably high risk of homicide. Research shows that abusers with a gun in the home are five times more likely to kill their partners than abusers who don’t have that same access to a firearm. And according to one recent study, more than half of America’s mass shootings are cases of extreme domestic violence.

Keeping guns from domestic abusers legally prohibited from possessing them would significantly reduce violence in America, a major priority of the Justice Department.

Federal gun cases involving domestic violence present unique challenges. In some states, the federal and state definitions of domestic violence differ, requiring complex legal analysis that varies based on the location of conviction.

The working group will share best practices, legal analysis and guidance on prosecuting abusers who unlawfully possess guns, and will advise U.S. attorneys across the country on outreach to local law enforcement, judges, and nonprofit groups.

At a glance

Working Group members include:

Scott W. Brady, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania

Robert M. Duncan, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky

Nicola T. Hanna, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California

Justin E. Herdman, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio

Erin Nealy Cox, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas

Christina E. Nolan, U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont

Byung J. Pak, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia

R. Trent Shores, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma

Timothy J. Downing, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma

Source: U.S. Justice Department

Source: Federal effort seeks to fight domestic violence


With towns in Northern Nevada growing, the BLM reports more unauthorized uses of federal public land

It’s common to hear about property disputes among neighbors. But what happens when your neighbor is the federal government?

This is a question that occupies an increasing amount of time for Victoria Wilkins, an acting field manager for the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Sierra Front division. From a BLM district office tucked away in Carson City, Wilkins says the agency is seeing more issues in the region — from Reno to Gardnerville — over where the federal domain begins and private land ends.

The BLM is charged with managing vast stretches of public land — about 67 percent of Nevada — for a variety of activities, including grazing, recreation, mining, wild horses and conservation. Although much of the agency’s landholdings are expansive ranges located in faraway valleys, many BLM parcels encircle private land or sit adjacent to it. As towns around the region grow, Wilkins said her office has seen more unauthorized uses of BLM land. The intrusions into the federal domain are often accidental (BLM land is not always marked), but they are still illegal.

“The more people we get concentrated in an area, the more these issues seem to be surfacing,” Wilkins said during an interview at the Carson City District before Memorial Day weekend.

Three weeks earlier, Wilkins said the district office caught someone blading a road into public land. Wilkins said the office gets a report like that at least once a month. There are other types of realty trespass too. She pointed to cases where landowners have accidentally built parts of their homes or sheds on public land, often because of faulty surveying. Or there are cases where private landowners will use a public road for private access without proper right-of-ways. A more recent form of trespass has been the construction of fuel breaks, areas of land where vegetation has been strategically removed to stunt runaway fires.

The BLM district has also seen an inexplicable uptick in abandoned vehicles. Where the local BLM officers used to see five or 10 abandoned vehicles, they have reported 47 this fiscal year.

“We don’t know [why],” Wilkins said. “We’re trying to figure that out.”

Across the Mountain West, more and more residents are purchasing homes near undeveloped land, especially as cities and even rural towns push the rural interface outward toward wildland. The trend has often placed more pressure on land managed by the agency. And in some cases, the ownership divide is unclear without a survey or map. In other cases, newcomers to the area can be unfamiliar with the rules governing public land, which can vary between regions.

Bret Birdsong, a UNLV law professor and a former deputy solicitor for the Department of Interior, said that the issues are especially prevalent in areas where human development abuts wildland.

“Part of the big picture is there are a lot of border lands where BLM land is bordering private land,” Birdsong said. “And just as with private land, it’s not all that unusual for there to be disputes or encroachments that occur because boundaries are not always clearly marked.”

The BLM deals with a variety of trespass issues that are not limited to land ownership. In fact, the concept of trespassing on public land is at the heart of the agency’s ongoing legal dispute with Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy. After Bundy stopped paying fees to graze his cattle on public land — the BLM requires ranchers to operate under 10-year grazing permits — a court order found that he was trespassing on the federal domain by illegally running his cattle.

Other cases of trespass include the unlawful removal of minerals, which are managed by the BLM. In April, the U.S. Department of Justice reached a settlement with a Colorado oil and gas company over drilling in a railroad right-of-way without permission from the land agency.

Those cases are different. Those trespasses were willful. The trespasses reported to the BLM’s Carson City District, which includes the growing region around Reno, are often accidental.

Boris Poff, an acting assistant field manager in the BLM’s Las Vegas Field Office, said that more people are reporting trespass because more people are using public land. But Poff, who works in the lands division, said he is not sure that’s correlated to an overall increase in trespass.

“[For] most people we deal with,” he said, “it’s an honest mistake.”

Poff said the agency tries to settle many of the land issues amicably. Still, the BLM’s Southern Nevada division opened up 13 trespass cases over the last year and has 21 ongoing cases.

On May 7, the Carson City District Office sent out a news release reminding residents to check land ownership rules before they build a road, fuel break, fence or other structure. But the news release also cautioned that trespassing could come with consequences, including fines. In some cases, such as when part of a house is built on federal land, the agency can require a property owner to pay the fair market value for the land. When a trespass is willful, the penalty can be twice or three times the market value for the land or the charges for using a public road.

One or two land trespasses might seem benign, but they can add up. Birdsong said there are several issues at stake for the BLM, especially if the trespass occurs in sensitive habitat, like riparian areas. He said the agency also has a responsibility to manage the land for the public. And if the agency does not enforce its rules, it could signal to bad actors that it’s open season.

Wilkins said that she suspects that many trespasses result from a lack of understanding around public land, access and right-of-ways. But it’s becoming such a problem that title companies are aware of the issue, she said. And the office is now considering educating real estate agents.

“[One] thing that we’ve been talking about is doing some educational workshops with real estate agents so that they can help their clients identify potential pitfalls,” Wilkins said. “A lot of people want to live next to public lands, but they don’t always think about the things that can happen on the adjacent public lands — dirt biking, hiking, the horse use, vegetation removal projects, fire.”

Source: With towns in Northern Nevada growing, the BLM reports more unauthorized uses of federal public land


THE WILDLIFE CORRIDORS CONSERVATION ACT – What You Need to Know!

On By Steve Busch

The 2019 Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act  (WCCA) is perhaps the most significant attack on private property rights in decades, perhaps ever.  A simple look at the list of sponsors of the proposed legislation provides plenty of warning about what this new law portends.

The WCCA was introduced in Congress in May 2019. In the Senate, the bill is being led by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), and was cosponsored by Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D- NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Jon Tester (D-MT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).  The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressmen  Don Beyer  (D-VA) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL).

REWILDING advocates and their minions in Congress are ecstatic over what this “ACT” will lead to once it is enacted.  Don’t be fooled, folks! This legislation doesn’t SAVE wildlife!  Non-endangered species such as grizzly bears and wolves don’t need your private property or more Federal land to survive.

The WCCA is NOT about building “squirrel bridges” over highways so our little furry friends can cross the road safely.  It is NOT about reducing highway collisions between motorists and moose.  It is NOT about reducing “conflicts” between large carnivores and people.

The WCCA provides for a system of “National Wildlife Corridors” which will affect all future decisions regarding Federal land and water management plans and activities.  The Act provides corridors for “existing native species habitat”  and also for “future native species habitat” as required to ensure “species resiliency”.

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The WCCA  seeks to permanently reverse the  “EXTIRPATION” of large carnivore species such as wolves and grizzly bears by ensuring population connectivity in the face of human development and/or any other human-caused factors including “climate change”.    The law will require that land where a species is “currently absent”  but once was historically occupied by a particular species, is “colonized or recolonized by the species” either through “re-introduction or restoration of habitat”.

The new law will empower the environmental lobby even further by allowing taxpayer-funded “Regional Climate Science Centers” and “Landscape Conservation Cooperative Networks” to continue operating outside the legislative process and having a disproportionate influence on land management planning and policy.

The WCCA establishes regional “Wildlife Movement Councils” which will involve multiple NGO’s and various stakeholders.  Private property owners, such as farmers and ranchers, will be allowed a seat at the table, but they will remain in the minority and are included only to add a veneer of cooperation and consensus for decisions they will be unable to successfully challenge.

The WCCA guarantees that rural communities here in the Inland Northwest will increasingly become surrounded by lands identified as “essential” to the movement of large carnivores species (grizzly bears, mountain lions, wolves, wolverines, lynx, etc.)  These movement corridors will come at the expense of other wildlife species, human safety, and private property rights.

“Grizzly bears need room to roam… Grizzly bears don’t follow human boundaries, and often, our parks are simply too small for this wide-ranging species. When they venture outside of protected areas, they are hunted, hit by cars, or come into conflict with people. But just like how people need highways to get from one place to another safely, grizzly bears, and other species, need wildlife corridors to move from protected area to protected area in search of food and mates. The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act would provide these essential paths, protect grizzlies and drivers from dangerous highway collisions, and help to reduce conflicts with people by giving grizzlies a safer route around cities and towns.”   [Wildlands Network]

Yes, highway wildlife crossings are certainly part of the sales pitch.  We all want safer roads.  Nobody in their right mind wants to collide with an animal on the highway.  But the WCCA isn’t about traffic safety!  It’s about adding yet another layer of burdensome regulations affecting thousands of square miles of America and changing how our society functions.

As private property becomes increasingly useless due to new and more restrictive land use regulations, conservation easement programs may eventually become the only viable option for bankrupt landowners.  The “Wildlife Movement Grant Program” and the “Wildlife Corridor Stewardship Fund” as outlined in the WCCA, will help ensure the continued destruction of property rights in America.

For further reading:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/1499/text

http://conservationcorridor.org/cpb/WHCWG_2010.pdf

http://conservationcorridor.org/cpb/WHCWG_2011.pdf

https://wildlandsnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Information-Packet-2019.pdf

https://oldmanoftheski.com/2013/04/08/rewilding-the-interior-beware-the-lccs/

https://oldmanoftheski.com/2017/04/14/rewilding-america-on-youtube/

Source: THE WILDLIFE CORRIDORS CONSERVATION ACT – What You Need to Know!

Nevada AB291 – Rules Suspended, Bill Completely Changed and Passed by The Senate.

AB291 was sent to the Governor late Friday, May 31st, 2019.  The bills final Senate version looks very little like what was passed out of the assembly earlier this month. After suspending the rules, the Senate amended the bill and added the verbiage from two other bills that never made it out of committee, giving them a life they were not supposed to have.  Red Flag and Gun Storage Laws were added to replace all of the Preemptive State Gun Law that was removed.

May 20, 2019 by associated press  CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety says it supported a proposal at the Nevada Legislature that would have allowed counties to pre-empt state gun laws and pass stricter firearm regulations but it became clear that the measure could not pass this year in the face of opposition.

The proposal was part of a broader gun bill moving through the statehouse but the bill's sponsor, Democratic Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui, released a statement Friday saying she was removing the provision at the request of Everytown and other groups. The provision is expected to be replaced with language creating a so-called "red flag" law allowing police or family members to seek an order to seize guns from people who appear violent or may post a danger. 

Everytown deputy press secretary Zoe Sheppard says "there is a real path" to pass a red flag law in Nevada "that can save lives right away. She says Everytown will try again in the future to pass legislation allowing counties to set their own gun control regulations.

[pdf-embedder url="https://birdpuk.com/wp-content/uploads/securepdfs/2019/06/Unknown.pdf"]

Saturday, June 1st, Second Amendment supporters rallied with members of the Nevada Republican Assembly Caucus in Carson City as well as Las Vegas.


Briefing in Pahrump water order appeal filings complete

The briefing in the appeal case regarding Nevada State Engineer Order #1293(A) has reached its conclusion.

The documents for all parties involved are now undergoing the process of screening by the Nevada Supreme Court, which will decide whether or not to move the case forward and hold a hearing to allow for oral arguments.

In addition to the Nevada State Engineer’s Office, which is the appellant, and Pahrump Fair Water, the respondent, a third party has joined the battle as well. The Nevada Groundwater Association requested leave to file an amicus brief, taking the side of Pahrump Fair Water in the argument, and the Nevada Supreme Court has granted that request.

The water order has been the source of much contention since it was originally issued in December 2017.

The order restricts the drilling of new domestic wells in the Pahrump Valley unless two acre-feet of water rights have been relinquished in support of the well. For some Pahrump property owners, water rights were already relinquished when their parcels were initially created. However, for many others, this is not the case and the order requires these property owners to first purchase water rights and relinquish them back to the state before they can drill a domestic well on their land.

Pahrump Fair Water, an organization composed of local property owners, well drillers and real estate agents, filed suit to put a stop to the water order. After several months of legal maneuvering, a judge with the Fifth Judicial District Court rendered a ruling in November 2018 in favor of Pahrump Fair Water and overturned the water order.

That was far from the end of the matter, however, as the Nevada State Engineer’s Office took its opportunity to file an appeal, which is the case now before the Nevada Supreme Court. While the case is being considered, the Supreme Court has issued a stay on the ruling that overturned the water order, meaning at the moment, the order is still in effect.

The basic argument between the engineer’s office and Pahrump Fair Water stems from the question of just how far the state engineer’s authority extends when it comes to domestic wells.

Pahrump Fair Water asserts that the engineer does not have the power to regulate domestic wells except in very specific circumstances, which the organization argues do not exist in the given situation. The state engineer, conversely, proclaims that the engineer’s office can, in fact, restrict domestic wells and withdrawals from such if the engineer finds that it would be in the best interest of the health of the overall water basin to do so.

There are several other points argued by both sides in the briefs filed in the case, including those regarding due process requirements and whether potential new domestic wells constitute a vested property right or protectable interest.

Now the case has reached a “wait and see” point, as there is no definite schedule for when the Nevada Supreme Court might decide to hold a hearing in the matter.

“There is really no way to tell,” David Rigdon of Taggart and Taggart, LTD, the law firm representing Pahrump Fair Water, stated when asked about a possible time line for the case. “I’ve seen the screening process take as few as 45 days and as long as seven to eight months. It all depends on their workload. In the order approving the stay, the court stated that they wanted expedited briefing… However it’s not clear whether the court will expedite its screening and review.”

The appeal is filed under Case No. 77722. All associated documents can be reviewed online at www.nvcourts.gov

 

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

Call to action on AB 95

The Nevada Legislative Session is has just three weeks remaining until it comes to a close and the fate of hundreds of bills depends upon the decisions made in these final days.

In a email sent out May 14 to area residents with a deep interest in local water resources, Nevada Assemblyman Greg Hafen II urged the community to reach out to Nevada Senators and ask them to vote “no” on one particular bill, Assembly Bill 95.

The bill calls for changes to Nevada water law that many have been pushing back against. It would require the Nevada State Engineer, “…to continue to allow withdrawals of groundwater from domestic wells under certain circumstances in groundwater basins where withdrawals have been restricted to conform to priority rights,” according to the bill language.

The bill dictates that domestic wells would be allowed to continue pumping half an acre foot of water it times of curtailment but only if the owner installs a water meter. The idea of water meters is something Pahrump residents have been extremely resistant to for years. Many have also argued that the state engineer does not have the authority to curtail domestic wells at all, a belief that is current under debate in a lawsuit between the engineer’s office and Pahrump Fair Water.

A bill very similar to Assembly Bill 95 was before the Nevada Legislature in 2017 and after the public outcry, it ultimately failed to pass.

“I rise today in opposition to Assembly Bill 95. Assembly Bill 95 tramples over 100 years of Nevada water laws to the detriment of all water users,” Hafen stated from the Assembly Floor on May 14. “We heard from many Nevadans during the bill’s hearing about the negative effects of the bill. There was not one person or organization in support.”

“Currently, domestic wells in my district are already only using an average of half an acre foot per year,” Hafen continued. “Conservation is the key to solving Nevada’s water issues and this bill does nothing to promote conservation, but does have a financial burden to well owners by requiring them install a meter. I urge my colleagues to vote ‘no’ on Assembly Bill 95.”

Details on the bill and a list of all Nevada Legislators along with their contact information can be found online at www.leg.state.nv.us

— Robin Hebrock, Pahrump Valley Times

Source: Briefing in Pahrump water order appeal complete


Interior secretary releases disputed Nevada public land funds

WASHINGTON — Interior Secretary David Bernhardt reversed Trump administration efforts to slash a Nevada public lands program Wednesday and released nearly $106 million for recreation and wildfire programs in the state.

Forty-seven new projects will be funded as a result through the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act, established by former Sens. Richard Bryan and Harry Reid, both Nevada Democrats, and then-Rep. John Ensign, R-Nev., in 1998.

The funding comes from the sale of public lands in the Las Vegas Valley, with the proceeds earmarked for improvement and conservation programs in the state and in the Lake Tahoe Basin of California.

“This program is a concrete example of the department’s continued commitment to being a good neighbor through increased recreation opportunities and access,” Bernhardt said in a statement.

Program targeted for years

The Trump administration and former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke tried to slash the program in past years.

Trump’s first two budget blueprints called for cuts to the program. The administration then sought to take the funds, but that move was blocked by Congress.

Bernhardt’s announcement that funds would be released to Nevada entities or U.S. agencies to spend on projects in the state marks a significant turnabout for the administration, said Rep. Dina Titus, the dean of the state’s congressional delegation.

Titus had demanded that Zinke and Bernhardt release the funds collected under the program, which is administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

She called Bernhardt’s announcement “good news.”

“I fought the Trump administration for two years to give us this money that is rightfully ours,” Titus said.

Titus said she would continue to defend the program for Southern Nevada “residents and visitors who chose to hike, swim and play in our parks and open spaces.”

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., hailed the decision. “I’m glad these long-overdue funds are finally being returned to the state and invested in projects that will make Nevada healthier and more sustainable,” she said.

Bernhardt called the announcement an example of the Interior Department “creating a legacy of conservation stewardship.”

The funds from land sales in the Las Vegas Valley will be used for a variety of programs and projects that include trail and habitat restoration, conservation, capital improvements and the purchase of environmentally sensitive lands.

Where the money will go

Entities that will receive money for projects include Clark County, the cities of Henderson, Las Vegas and North Las Vegas; Lincoln County, White Pine County, the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service.

The Interior Department noted that BLM will use $4.45 million of the funds to buy 419 acres of agriculture conservation easement on the historic Van Sickle Station Ranch near Genoa in Douglas County.

The purchase will protect local wildlife, migratory bird habitat, groundwater recharge and open space. In addition, the owner will donate two multi-use trail easements to provide the public with additional recreation opportunities, according to the Interior Department.

The BLM also will use $1.45 million in program funds to build between 40 and 65 miles of multi-use trails, trail heads, parking and campgrounds and camping areas in the Highland Range area of Lincoln County.

Lincoln County, the city of Caliente, the Nevada Division of State Parks, the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, the Back Country Horsemen of America and the Wilderness Society and regional and local proprietors are part of the collaborative project.

Since the Act passed in 1998, the program has generated $3.6 billion for projects in the state that include the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area visitor center, renovation of Lorenzi Park in Las Vegas, public areas at Lake Mead National Recreation Area and landscape restoration in Eastern Nevada.

By law, the state of Nevada General Education Fund gets 5 percent of proceeds and the Southern Nevada Water Authority receives 10 percent, according to BLM.

Breakdown of the funding
The Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act has provided $3.6 billion in project funds in the state of Nevada since 1998, according to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced and additional $106 million in projects.
• Parks, trails, and natural areas, $26.7 million.
• Capital improvements, $27.7 million.
• Conservation initiatives, $13.2 million.
• Environmentally sensitive land acquisitions, $21.6 million.
• Hazardous fuels reduction and wildfire prevention, $5 million.
• Eastern Nevada landscape restoration project, $6. 1 million.
• Special account reserve, $5 million.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Land Management

 

Source: Interior secretary releases disputed Nevada public land funds


WESTERN WATER: Judge on landowners’ plight: ‘I won’t say the word “screwed”‘

Ellen M. Gilmer, E&E News reporter

There, government lawyers urged the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to toss a lawsuit from Nevada landowners who say a federal restoration project stole their water and flooded their land.

At issue is Patch of Heaven, a Christian camp on private land nestled within the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.

The Nevada church Ministerio Roca Solida bought the 40-acre site in 2006 for $500,000. At the time, a stream called the Carson Slough flowed across the property, feeding plants and a small pond and sometimes serving as a site for baptisms.

In 2010, the Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages all of the surrounding land, rerouted the channel in a restoration project to help the Ash Meadows speckled dace, an endangered fish that lives in the area’s warm springs.

Annette and Victor Fuentes, who own Ministerio Roca Solida, say the government owes them compensation for eliminating the stream from their property — except for a trickle of water the site claimed through a state permit — and rerouting it in a way that causes repeated flooding on another part of the parcel.

The couple teamed up with the conservative Mountain States Legal Foundation and attracted the support of Westerners opposed to federal land management, including the Bundy ranching family infamous for its conflicts with government agencies.

Speaking at a boisterous rally at Patch of Heaven last year, Ryan Bundy offered to demolish the FWS project himself (Greenwire, April 23, 2018).

The mood was decidedly tamer during yesterday’s hearing, where just five spectators — including one reporter and one court employee — listened to more than two hours of technical arguments involving property rights, water law and hydrology.

Judge Elaine Kaplan must decide whether to grant the government’s motion for summary judgment rather than allowing the case to proceed to trial.

The church’s claims are twofold: that the government’s elimination of streamflow on the land without payment amounted to an unconstitutional taking of vested water rights, and that the diversion project’s contribution to flooding was also a taking.

Justice Department lawyers yesterday disputed both claims. The government contends the landowners are not entitled to the water rights they claim, and, in any case, that issue should be adjudicated by the state of Nevada, not the Federal Claims court.

The two lawyers from DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division also attempted to poke holes in the Fuenteses’ flooding claims, dismissing the plaintiffs’ expert testimony as unsubstantiated and noting that the broader area is prone to flooding.

“Plaintiffs would like this court to believe … that there was never flooding on that part of the property,” DOJ attorney Davené Walker said, adding that the area is part of a flood zone and has a well-documented history of such events.

Walker explained that to win a takings claim against the government for flooding, the plaintiff must show that FWS caused the flooding and intended or expected it to happen. Ministerio Roca Solida has offered no evidence to support either prong, she said.

Mountain States Legal Foundation lawyer Zhonette Brown, in turn, questioned the evidence presented by the government.

Kaplan, an Obama appointee, agreed with the government that Ministerio Roca Solida’s expert testimony appeared “a little thin,” but she questioned whether it would be appropriate to resolve the case in favor of the United States at this stage, without allowing the church to make its case at trial.

She also empathized with the Fuenteses on their loss of the stream, regardless of whether FWS’s project was lawful.

“I won’t say the word ‘screwed,'” she said of the landowners, eventually landing on the word “injured.”

The judge added that she’s never heard a water rights case or a flooding case before and will need some time to consider the competing evidence.

“Your Honor’s more than welcome to come out to the property,” Brown said, “so you can make your own conclusion.”

Dried-up baptimisal pool. Photo credit: Jennifer Yachnin/E&E News
The former baptismal pool at the Patch of Heaven camp in Amargosa Valley, Nev. A “legal evidence” sign refers to the camp’s owners’ lawsuit with the Fish and Wildlife Service over diverted streams and flooding. Jennifer Yachnin/E&E News

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Household hazardous waste disposal event set for May 18 in Pahrump

May 8, 2019 - 7:00 am ~ Pahrump Valley Times

Nye County and U.S. Ecology are teaming up for the county’s very first Household Hazardous Waste Collection event, and residents will want to mark May 18 on their calendars.

Members of the Pahrump community and the surrounding area will be able to pack up all of the household waste that they cannot dispose of for curbside trash pickup and haul it to the Pahrump landfill to have it properly disposed of by U.S. Ecology.

Old paint is just one of the many items that will be accepted at the Household Hazardous Waste Collection event set for May 18.

“The Hazardous Household Waste Collection event is something that has been talked about for years but never executed,” Nye County Public Information Officer Arnold Knightly said of the effort.

“U.S. Ecology does these events with its community partners around the country. This event came out of a site tour of their facility last year. Nye County Manager Tim Sutton placed the event as a priority, and Nye County Public Works Director Tim Dahl has been in close contact with U.S. Ecology representatives, who live here in Pahrump, in organizing the event.”

Knightly said events of this type are important to communities as they provide a safe, proper method of disposal for all sorts of products used in the home, ensuring they do not harm the environment.

Electronics, including computers and cell phones, can be taken to Nye County's upcoming household hazardous waste event so it can be properly disposed of by U.S. Ecology.

“There is always a concern that hazardous household waste will end up in our beautiful desert through illegal dumping and will damage the ecosystem. Whether it is animals digesting items, killing or slowing the growth of plants, or waste that ends up in the groundwater, this event is to give an outlet to people to get rid of those items in their garage they don’t know how to get rid of,” Knightly detailed.

U.S. Ecology will have large trucks on site which will run continually throughout the day, with all hazardous waste bound for disposal at the U.S. Ecology site just south of Beatty.

Acceptable waste

Many of the items commonly found stockpiled around homes, awaiting disposal, will be collected as part of the household hazardous waste event.

One of the most common household products and something that generally should not be thrown in the regular trash is batteries. Those made from lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, lithium metal, lithium ions, mercury, and alkaline will be gathered and disposed of properly.

Hazardous liquids will be taken as part of the event as well, including used oil, antifreeze and paint-related materials, such as latex or water-based paints, oil-based paints, lacquers and thinners, and lead-based paints.

Pool chemicals can also be disposed of, so long as they are in their manufacturer’s original packaging and contain a legible label.

Aerosols, both flammable and non-flammable, will be taken, along with electronic waste such as televisions, computers, printers and cell phones.

Mercury and sodium bulbs will also be accepted, as will equipment containing mercury, such as thermometers and thermostats.

Unacceptable waste

There are a variety of items that cannot be accepted at the upcoming disposal event.

Propane cylinders, fire extinguishers and smoke detectors will not be collected, and residents may not dispose of fireworks, flares or flammable liquids. Household cleaners are also on the unacceptable list, along with acids, bases, oxidizers, pesticides or herbicides.

Medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, are unacceptable waste products, as are illicit drugs. Epoxies and resins, appliances, home furnishings, and explosives will not be accepted either.

The Household Hazardous Waste Collection event will take place from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 18 at the Nye County Landfill, 1631 E. Mesquite Ave. in Pahrump.

Source: Household hazardous waste disposal event set for May 18 in Pahrump


Editorial: Minimum wage hike will increase prices and crime

by Thomas Mitchell

Despite all the evidence that it will do more harm than good, a bill to raise the minimum wage in Nevada is still wending its way through the halls of the Legislature in Carson City.

Assembly Bill 456 would raise the minimum wage 75 cents per hour each year as it climbs from the current $7.25 per hour for those receiving company health insurance and $8.25 for those not insured until it reaches $11 or $12 per hour.

In his State of the State speech, Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak called for raising the minimum wage and declared, “It’s impossible for an individual, let alone a family, to live on $7.25 an hour,” ignoring the fact almost no one “lives” on minimum wage. Fewer than 3 percent of workers are paid the minimum wage and most of them are under age 25 and working part-time. Most are supplementing family income rather than being self-supporting.

In fact, raising the minimum wage often results in jobs being cut and/or working hours reduced. One study found the average low-wage worker in Seattle lost $125 a month because the minimum wage was raised to $15 an hour.

Now, a recent study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that raising the minimum wage can harm even those who are not being paid the minimum wage.

Using national crime data from 1998 to 2016, the study found “robust evidence that minimum wage hikes increase property crime arrests among teenagers and young adults ages 16- to-24, a population for whom minimum wages are likely to bind.”

The study projects that raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour nationally would result in approximately 231,000 additional property crimes, costing the nation $1.3 billion. Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would generate over 410,000 additional property crimes and $2.4 billion per year in additional crime costs.

“We conclude that increasing the minimum wage will at best be ineffective at deterring crime and at worst will have unintended consequences that increase property crime among young adults,” the study authors concluded. They said that previous studies that projected a decrease in crime due to raising the minimum wage ignored the possibility of hours being cut and jobs being lost.

Don’t ignore the costs imposed on everyone when the minimum wage is hiked. A Cato Institute analysis in 2012 found that a “comprehensive review of more than 20 minimum wage studies looking at price effects found that a 10 percent increase in the U.S. minimum wage raises food prices by up to 4 percent and overall prices by up to 0.4 percent.”

The Congressional Budget Office in 2014 estimated that if the federal minimum wage were increased to $10.10 an hour — as proposed by President Obama and others — up to a million workers would lose their jobs.

According to the American Enterprise Institute, when the minimum wage rose 41 percent between 2007 and 2009, the jobless rate for 16- to 19-year-olds increased by 10 percentage points, from about 16 percent in 2007 to more than 26 percent in 2009 — even higher for minorities.

Without those entry level jobs younger Americans cannot build the skills needed to earn higher pay for a lifetime.

Still another Heritage study reported that every dollar increase in minimum wage really only raises take-home pay by 20 cents once welfare benefits are reduced and taxes are increased.

It’s the immutable law of unintended consequences. Lawmakers should abandon their support for this bill, which would cause more harm than good.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Source: Editorial: Minimum wage hike will increase prices and crime