Undercurrent

GOP heartthrob Ron DeSantis to headline area wingnuts/lambnuts hootenanny

By: - April 24, 2021 9:20 am
mutt and jeff. And jeff.

Top: Trump with Republican rising star. Bottom: Trump with Republican shooting star.

mutt and jeff. And jeff.
Top: Trump with Republican rising star. Bottom: Trump with Republican shooting star.

This year’s scheduled celebrity daisy at the annual Adam Laxalt Barnyard Carnival for Fox News Viewers is current Trump Lovers Flavor of the Month, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. Young Master Adam has a PAC, which has a newsletter, which I read so you don’t have to, and from which I have learned that Young Master Adam has a big sloppy crush on Ron DeSantis.

Since its inception in 2015, the Laxalt PAC picnic (pacnic?), or “Basque Fry” as he calls it, has become a staple if minor stop on the right wing celebrity tour circuit. The event usually gets a few national headlines if for no other reason then the featured menu item is lamb testicles. Laxalt’s PAC has flown in media favorites from Laxalt mentor John Bolton (before Trump turned on him) to alternative facts epistemologist KellyAnne Conway.

If not called away for an emergency only he could photo-op, the keynoter in 2018 would have been Mike Pence, then the sitting vice president of the United States. 

Pence by the way was last seen being secreted away for his own protection from violent, feral Trump supporters who were chanting “hang Mike Pence” because he wouldn’t play “Stop the Steal” with them.

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The other BLM. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is headquartered, you’ll recall, in … Grand Junction! In an office building where other tenants include Chevron and some oil & gas lobbyists. I always like to mention that last part. Imagine the reaction from, for instance, Chevron and oil and gas lobbyists if BLM’s HQ shared a building with the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity.

Anyway, Nevada Rep. Susie Lee asked Interior Secretary Deb Haaland about maybe moving the headquarters back to Washington and reversing the Trump administration’s best efforts to assure BLM remains an extractive industry subsidiary. Haaland was pleased to answer promptly: She said she didn’t know.

The reason Haaland doesn’t know is because congressional Democrats from Colorado like having BLM share an HQ with Chevron, maybe not so much because those Democrats love Chevron, but because Grand Junction likes jobs jobs jobs! Since the move I presume Grand Junction has seen quite the influx of extractive industry executives, so there’s some economic diversification for ya. Sort of.

Most of Nevada is BLM land, as you know, and along with the agency’s hackneyed “multiple use” defense of everything, there are multiple issues out in the Nevada hinterlands. But in urban Southern Nevada, where Lee’s district is, the public lands issue elected officials are most eager to see Haaland help deliver is the facilitation of more urban sprawl. Come to think of it, “Official,” i.e., campaign contribution-approved, Nevada’s best interests might be best served if corporate homebuilders rented space in that same Grand Junction office building.

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Now we’re (still) cooking with gas. There was a bill in Carson City that would have made Nevada start thinking about using less natural gas. It died.

But that’s not what this is about. I only bring it up because it’s death was connected to a weirdo joint statement issued by Steve Sisolak along with Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro and Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson – Democrats all.

“Nevada leadership calls for continued discussion on the future of natural gas,” was the “headline” on the release. Pretty bold, no? It takes real courage to call for continued discussion. But then, in recent years Nevada Democratic elected officials have developed a very strong position on the climate crisis, and that position is they would very strongly like you to think they have a very strong position on the climate crisis.

The parts of the statement that caught my eye however were the quotes attributed to the legislators.

Cannizzaro said “we simply didn’t have the time for some of these tough, complex discussions this Legislative Session.”

In his version of the same sentiment, Frierson said “the pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges to our legislative process, making it a difficult environment for robust discussion and debate.”

Nevada legislators are, as I am fond of saying, temps. With the exception of special sessions, they are restricted to meeting for a few months every other year, as if Nevada was some Dakota or other and it’s 1921 not 2021. The time crunch is a legitimate problem, as well as a handy excuse.

The pandemic has not only presented challenges to that already dysfunctional legislative timetable, but also, to borrow Frierson’s phrase, “presented unprecedented challenges” to the 99.9999 percent of Nevada humans who are neither legislators nor lobbyists. Fortunately for legislators, they don’t really have much of an agenda to address those challenges, so at least they don’t have to worry about that.

But of course the hilarious thing about Cannizzaro and Frierson yammering on about time constraints is their beloved governor, at the behest of some rando libertarian who made a killing on (severely climate unfriendly) cryptocurrency once, is hell-bent on making legislators spend a bunch of time on the Blockchainvsville bill.

Upshot: Nevadans can very easily stop using natural gas to heat our homes and cook our food, as soon as a technique is developed to generate clean energy from political and economic farce.

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Flower power. Your U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was told by a federal judge to get up off its regulatory keister and make a ruling on a wildflower’s protective status, pronto. Because Aussies want to build a lithium mine on the flower’s only habitat, so maybe the flower should be listed as an endangered species. Or not. But make a call, USFWS, the judge said. The flower’s champions think this bodes well. Meh, says Ioneer, the Aussie lithium company.

As regular readers (all eleven of you) may recall, I’ve been consistently skeptical of Nevada’s long- and oft-promised lithium “boom.” The routine and not unreasonable assumption is scaled-up production of electric vehicles means lithium demand will outstrip supply. But that and other assumptions based on faith in skyrocketing lithium demand have caught fire more than once over the last few years, as a lot of disappointed lithium investors can attest. Meanwhile, as of now supply outstrips demand, and more supply is being ramped up the world over as we speak.

What I’m getting at is this: It is not unimaginable that Ioneer, if permitted, could dig their surface mine and kill the flower’s habitat, then walk away from the project because it doesn’t pencil out, and we’re left without either the jobs! jobs! jobs! or the flower. 

Restoring native species during mine reclamation can be hard and complicated. Sometimes it is done effectively. Perhaps just as often company officials say it has been done effectively, and will get captive industry-friendly regulators to concur, but they’re all lying. In either case, even the most spectacular reclamation process can’t repopulate a habitat with a native species if the species is extinct.

A not dissimilar scenario applies to the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine proposed by the Canadian outfit Lithium Americas. Except maybe it won’t kill out a species. Maybe it’ll just deplete but pollute groundwater. Groundwater levels are almost never restored to levels promised by developers, anywhere, or if they are, never nearly as quickly as developers promise. That was true even before the climate crisis was as acute as it is now.

The number of new jobs associated with these mine projects is comparatively miniscule. And Nevada’s mining tax structure, a policy arena which almost always brings out the typical Nevada elected official’s inner lap dog, is an irresponsible humiliation of the state and its people. So the enthusiasm for lithium mines from aforementioned elected officials (oh hi governor) seems, let’s say, ill-considered. Yes, I’m feeling in a generous and polite mood, so let’s just go with ill-considered.

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Three out of four American Indians and Alaska Natives are willing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, according to one study. That’s quite a bit better than the half of Republicans who are not willing. So looks like we’ve got a winner in this round of the American Personal Responsibility Contest.

(The above items are excerpts, some slightly massaged, of material published in the Daily Current newsletter, the editor’s opinionated morning news roundup, which you can subscribe to here.)

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Hugh Jackson
Hugh Jackson

Hugh Jackson was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and author of the Las Vegas Gleaner political blog. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.

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