Today in Carson City and in Las Vegas, advocates rallied in support of policies that will expand Nevada’s clean energy economy and urged state legislators to support efforts to increase the use of renewable energy. 

Speakers highlighted legislation to increase Nevada’s percentage of energy from clean, renewable sources; restore Nevada’s once-growing residential rooftop solar industry; increase access to energy efficiency programs; and allow neighborhoods to invest in renewable energy projects together. The rallies were organized by nonprofit groups supporting Nevada’s clean-energy economy and energy-efficiency efforts, including partners and allies of the RenewNV coalition.

Nearly 150 gathered in Las Vegas, and close to 100 in Carson City.

Andrea Martinez, a working mother in Las Vegas, noted that working families suffer disproportionately from the pollution from burning fossil fuels.

“Many of my friends suffer from asthma,” she said. “I want our legislators to support environmental protection, enhancements and initiatives that would help improve the health of our local families.”

In Carson City, Kevin McGehee, owner of the Red Rock Bar in Reno, said clean energy makes economic sense for his small business. “As a business owner I know our continued reliance on fossil fuels is costing us big time — from health to economics to the impacts of a changing climate. And we’re equally excited for the benefits that a vibrant clean energy economy can bring — including good local jobs.”

McGehee cited recently released federal employment numbers showing that Nevada now has more than 20,000 jobs in clean energy and energy efficiency.

Many of those attending the rally were parents. “Nothing is more important than our kids and our families,” said Kyle Chandler-Isacksen in Carson City. “Part of keeping them happy and healthy is giving them the cleanest air and water we possibly can. Keeping polluting fossil fuels out of our communities is an essential part of keeping our families safe.”

In Carson City, Crisaly Santos, with Chispa Nevada, a project of the League of Conservation Voters working with Latino residents to promote clean energy and healthy families, spoke forcefully for the intersection of health and economic benefits with the new energy economy.

“Switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy would not only reduce pollution in communities of color, it would provide good jobs for Nevadans of every color and background,” Santos said. “We need to make energy efficiency programs available to all Americans, and promote innovative solutions that give low-income communities, communities of color, and every Nevadan the option to choose clean energy.”

In Las Vegas, the Rev. Leonard B. Jackson, executive director of the Faith Organizing Alliance, agreed that clean energy means better health for families, but he said it also means economic opportunity for the community.

“We can create local jobs and reduce electric bills through strong energy efficiency, rooftop solar, and community solar programs, giving more folks a pathway out of poverty and into prosperity,” Jackson said.

Ron Nelson, owner of Pioneer Overhead Door in Las Vegas, agreed.

“As small business owners and operators, we have a commitment to making our communities safe and healthy places to live and work. That’s particularly important to our families,” Nelson said. “For my business to thrive, like any business, I need customers, and those customers are demanding clean power at home, at work, and wherever they spend money. Today in Nevada there are 13 times as many people working in the clean energy economy as there are in the fossil-fuel power industry. You can see where the growth has been and will be.”