Commentary

Hired guns for sale thwarting climate progress

August 30, 2023 5:00 am

Greenwashing is a way of life in Carson City. (Photo: Alejandra Rubio)

This will be remembered as the year the climate crisis came to life, with the deadliest wildfires in over a century, Florida seawater hitting 100-degree hot-tub levels, and the hottest summer ever recorded. The Associated Press reported that in Las Vegas, “emergency room doctors were witnessing another world, as dehydrated construction workers, passed-out elderly residents and others suffered in an intense heat wave threatening to break the city’s all-time record high of 117 degrees Fahrenheit.” In fact, Reno and Las Vegas are the fastest and second-fastest warming cities in America, with average summer temperatures that are 10.9° and 5.8° hotter, respectively, than in 1970.

The catastrophic climate future that many of us feared is happening now. But thanks to armies of mercenary lobbyists, Nevada’s leading fossil fuel apologists such as NV Energy and Southwest Gas have killed any and all measures to reduce emissions, unless they can make money off of them.  

In the Nevada Legislature, many lobbyists are rife with conflicts, getting away with making money from the fossil fuel industry while lobbying for some of Nevada’s hardest-hit communities and governmental entities grappling with climate change.

According to a new report by F Minus, lobbyists in the Nevada legislature may be putting fossil fuel interests ahead of their clients who have an express interest in addressing climate change. For example:

❧The Griffen Company represents fossil fuels and other polluting corporations in Nevada. My hometown of Reno also hires them to lobby in the legislature. I wonder which side the Griffen gang would take if Reno’s climate plan, which calls for a 40% reduction in fossil fuels by 2030, were ever up for debate in the Legislature. Another Griffen-conflict client is a major progressive foundation, the New Venture Fund, which funded the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada when I was executive director. According to F Minus, the New Venture Fund also employs fossil fuel lobbyists in California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, and Washington state.

❧The Perkins Company, headed up by former Democratic Nevada Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, represents fossil gas corporation LS Power. Perkins also represents the CIty of Henderson, which touts its progress toward addressing climate change, as well as the Washoe County Human Services Agency, whose mission is to promote the health and safety of children and seniors.” My grandkids live in Henderson and their chance of having a liveable community and planet are in direct conflict with the fossil gas industry.

❧The city of Las Vegas, which has a goal to reduce local government greenhouse gas emissions 100% by 2050, and whose water supply is diminishing because of climate change, employs Greg Ferarro to represent them in the Legislature. Ferraro also lobbies for fossil fuel industry titans NV Energy and Sierra Pacific Power, who have been the leading impediments toward achieving 100% renewable energy in Nevada.

❧The Southern Nevada Health district, whose mission is “To assess, protect, and promote the health, the environment, and the well-being of Southern Nevada communities, residents, and visitors” is represented by Argentum Partners. Argentum also lobbies for the Western States Petroleum Association, an outfit that so egregiously promotes fossil fuels that it is being sued by Multnomah County, Oregon, for its willful contributions to climate change. It is also noteworthy that a key partner in the firm used to head up the Nevada Conservation League.

Southwest Gas, which killed nominal provisions to reduce fossil gas emissions in Nevada, employs a bevy of lobbyists from the McDonald-Carano law firm. That firm also represents the main water provider for the Reno-Sparks area, whose supplies are diminishing because of climate change.

❧R&R Partners, founded by Reagan/Bush operative Sig Rogich, lobbies for the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District. Climate change is making megafires like the Caldor Fire at Lake Tahoe even worse. One of the world’s most sinister fossil fuel culprits is Canada-based TC Energy, promoter of the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline, which pays R&R’s nine lobbyists to maximize its profits in Nevada.

Greenwashing is a way of life in Carson City and having an environmentally responsible client allows lobbyists pushing a radical fossil fuel agenda a veneer of respectability. They get to tell themselves and legislators, “We’re not so bad. We also work for charities, human services and all of these local governments.”

We are in a climate emergency. Lobbying firms should join law firms, PR and ad agencies, universities, and other sectors in cutting ties with the fossil fuel industry.  And if they don’t, public entities like the Cities of Reno, Las Vegas, and Henderson that work with them should put their communities first by standing boldly and severing ties with those firms.

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