October 15, 2021 - 9:01 pm
In the late 1990s, I was privileged to work with the Nevada congressional delegation — led by former Sen. Richard Bryan and Rep. John Ensign — to help enact the the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act, the single most important piece of environmental and conservation legislation in the history of Nevada. Over the last 21 years the act has generated more than $3 billion in revenue in support of conservation and economic development in Nevada.
During this period, I have also been privileged to have been directly involved in the conservation and protection of more than 1 million acres of land and water in Nevada. Those efforts have included the acquisition of more than 600,000 acres of critical habitat for threatened and endangered species in Clark County and the protection of land, water, habitat and natural resources from Lake Tahoe to Great Basin National Park.
Balancing conservation and environmental outcomes with economic development critical to the future of the nation requires occasional trade-off and compromise. Understanding the importance of achieving necessary balance, especially as we deal with emerging issues such as climate change and conversion to renewable energy development, underscores that need now more than ever.
This is especially true as we consider the need for scarce mineral development, such as lithium, which is vital to supporting future renewable energy development. We must take steps to avoid our dependency on foreign countries, such as China, and Nevada can be a major player. Our long history of working together cooperatively, coupled with the application of sound science and appropriate mitigation efforts, will ensure future success.
The land management act provided the blueprint for achieving unimaginable environmental and conservation gains that are the envy of the rest of the country. We have also been able to achieve economic development through the disposition and development of surplus federal land and minerals. Now, more than ever, we must continue to follow the law’s model and not allow the threat of litigation, or honest disagreement, to impede significant environmental and economic success because some are unwilling to compromise.