Coalition Forms to Fight Climate Change, Shape NV Public-Lands Bill

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LAS VEGAS -- More than a half-dozen progressive groups announced Tuesday that they're banding together to form a new group, to be known as the Nevada Climate Justice Coalition. The new organization will work to educ ate people on the effects of climate change, especially on low-income communities of color.

Jackie Chiakulas, environmental justice advocate with the groups PLAN Action and 350.org, said there's strength in numbers.

"We figured it was more powerful to be working together instead of separately," she said, "so we wanted to form a coalition to really address climate change and the impact that it is already having on our state."

The new coalition includes multiple non-profit groups, including Mi Familia Vota, Moms Clean Air Force, Ecomadres, the Sierra Club and the Sunrise Movement. Together, Chiakulas said, they also will work to modify a proposed federal public-lands bill, called the Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act. The bill would preserve some public lands, but allow for more development, particularly around the edges of the Las Vegas area.

Chiakulas said she worries that the bill would encourage suburban sprawl all the way to Primm, which she said would cause more traffic and air pollution.

"The bill doesn't talk about public transportation. It would probably affect our affordable housing here," she said. "It doesn't mention water, so there's a lot of elements with environmental justice that it doesn't address."

The Clark County Commission is expected to weigh in on the bill in the coming weeks. The coalition is hoping the state's congressional delegation will step in to encourage more growth on unused lands within Clark County, rather than allowing large, new suburban developments.

A draft version of the public-lands bill is online at clarkcountynv.gov.

Climate Change, Nevada

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