Public Health Versus A Nevada Coal Plant

© Alan Goya
Earlier this spring, the Moapa Band of Paiutes led a 50-mile march from their reservation to Las Vegas to call attention to the pollution from the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant.

"I have an allergist, I have a cardiologist that I see, I have a nephrologist, and an endocrinologist. I'm only 47." Robert Hanks is a member of Nevada's Moapa Band of Paiutes tribe near Las Vegas. Those are her words at a recent Environmental Protection Agency hearing about the Reid Gardner Coal Plant, which is next to the Moapa reservation and is sickening the tribe.

"Our children can't play outside anymore. They just can't," said fellow tribe member Rafaela Srute at the same hearing.

The Reid Gardner Coal Plant not only pollutes the air on the Moapa Band of Paiutes Reservation from its smokestacks, but also sickens the community through the dust blowing off its coal ash landfill. The toxic coal dust at Reid Gardner is picked up during Southern Nevada's frequent wind storms, blows over tribal lands, threatening public health and creating regional haze pollution.

Tribal members suffer from asthma attacks, allergies, sinus problems, ear infections, and thyroid disease that they believe directly result from their constant exposure to particulates that blow from the toxic coal ash disposal ponds onto the tribal lands, covering their cars, their homes and their families.

NV Energy, owners of Reid Gardner continue to claim the plant’s emissions and dust are free of toxic hazards. A recent local TV news report showed otherwise:

(Parts one and two of that station's excellent report are viewable here and here).

The tribe wants Reid Gardner retired and replaced with clean energy. This is about justice. This tribe deserves clean air and water and good health, not an outdated coal plant saddled with ineffective pollution controls.

The Moapa are leading the way beyond dirty coal and to clean energy by developing a major solar plant on the reservation capable of powering 100,000 homes. The solar project received approval last month.

Sierra Club stands with the Moapa Band of Paiutes to assert their rights to a healthy environment. The local Nevada Sierra Club chapter is working together with coalition partners to move utility company NV Energy to retire its use of coal and instead transition towards safe and renewable sources of energy like solar, wind, and other clean energy alternatives.

And even though the action at the end of this video is no longer valid, the video itself is still very powerful if you want to see the problems facing the Moapa Band of Paiutes.

Tags: Air Pollution | Coal | Environmental Justice | EPA | Nevada


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