Updated June 10, 2021 - 7:01 pm
U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm met with elected officials, advocates and students in Las Vegas on Thursday as she hosted a series of events centered around President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan, which the administration says will create millions of good-paying jobs in clean energy industries.
Granholm praised the state’s leaders over the strides toward clean energy made in Nevada, and she stressed Biden’s $2.3 trillion proposal would be largely complimentary to Nevada’s ongoing plans to modernize its power grid and position itself at the forefront of a green energy economy.
“Nevada, as a laboratory of democracy, which is what the states are, is really showing the federal government what we can do on the federal level,” Granholm told Gov. Steve Sisolak, Rep. Steven Horsford and various local community and energy leaders at a roundtable at North Las Vegas City Hall. “So you are a step ahead of us.”
She noted the plan includes $100 billion for the modernization of the transmission of renewable energy across the states, as well as the construction of 500,000 charging stations for electric vehicles — both issues that Nevada’s state government has already tackled. Just before the roundtable, the governor signed several clean energy-related bills, including Senate Bill 448, which calls for the construction of additional transmission facilities to move energy across the state.
New approach on nukes
Sisolak quipped that the last time he met with an energy secretary, it was to argue over plutonium being moved to the state without his knowledge.
“What a night-and-day difference,” Sisolak said.
Granholm referenced the comment during a short news conference after the event, stressing the current administration does not plan to store any more waste at the Nevada National Security Site and is looking into ways to remove any waste stored there.
She added the department is currently reviewing a process by which high-level nuclear waste could be stored in communities with their consent, rather than shipped to the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.
Both Sisolak and Horsford threw their support behind Granholm’s discussion of Biden’s plan for infrastructure investment.
Helping underserved communities
Horsford, who is currently involved in the negotiations to move the large bill through Congress with significant Republican opposition, praised the plan’s mandate that 40 percent of investments be made in communities traditionally left behind both economically and in terms of environmental justice.
“We need to keep them at the center of how we are going to promote the job opportunities and investment opportunities for those communities,” Horsford said. “We must ensure the communities that they live in, the air that they breathe, the water that they drink (and) their outdoor spaces are robust, clean and healthy environments.”
Granholm also discussed the importance of mining lithium — an abundant resource in Nevada required for many clean energy products — in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way, with buy-in from local communities.
After the roundtable, Granholm met with local advocates at Makers & Finders in the Arts District. She asked for their concerns with the plan, particularly in regards to equity and its effects on communities of color.
“I’m interested in this work to make sure that my communities, Black communities, immigrant communities are not left behind,” Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada Executive Director Laura Martin told Granholm. “That we don’t end up seeing my people working minimum wage jobs to put solar panels on houses in the suburbs, and then have no access to those benefits.”
Granholm then toured Mojave Bloom, an award-winning energy efficient home built by UNLV students near the Las Vegas Peace Garden, with Rep. Dina Titus. She plans to tour a solar facility with Rep. Susie Lee on Friday morning.
The Republican National Committee criticized Granholm’s visit and the Biden administration’s plan at a time when gas prices are on the rise nationwide.
“Under Joe Biden, Nevada has the third-highest gas prices in the country,” spokesman Keith Schipper said. “The American Bankruptcy Plan and attacks on our country’s energy independence will exacerbate the problem further.”
Contact Rory Appleton at [email protected] or 702-383-0276. Follow @RoryDoesPhonics on Twitter.