Thursday, Jan. 24, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Nevada will benefit from the election of one of the three leading Democratic candidates for president because of their commitment to renewable energy, environmentalists say.
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards have signed pledges drafted by the nonprofit national environmental group Environment America to make clean energy a priority in the White House.
None of the Republican presidential candidates has signed the pledge.
“We’ve lost a lot of time over the last eight years with an administration that’s focus is on old technology,” said Charles Benjamin, Nevada executive director of Western Resource Advocates, referring to President Bush’s support of the oil, coal and nuclear industries. “Here in Nevada we could uniquely benefit from a new energy path.”
Environmentalists and renewable energy developers have said Nevada would experience an economic boom should renewable energy get the full support of Congress and the White House, because the state is rich in solar and geothermal resources.
And although the coal industry has promoted new coal-burning power plants as a way to achieve energy independence, Benjamin said the United States imports $3 billion worth of coal each year. Nevada also imports millions of tons of coal each year from Wyoming and Montana.
But Steve Rypka, owner of the green living consulting business Green Dream Enterprises, said the next president must support clean energy not because it is an economic opportunity but because of a global crisis.
“Our next president must commit to a clean energy future as if our future depended on it because it does,” Rypka said.
Released with the pledges was a report calling on the next president to take many of the steps the state’s environmental community has been demanding for years including increased reliance on renewable energy and efficiency programs instead of coal or nuclear energy, stricter building and appliance efficiency standards and reduced use of fossil fuels during the first 100 days of the new administration.
Environment America says the next president must make solar power a cornerstone of America’s energy supply, invest in clean energy research and development, impose a moratorium on new coal and nuclear plants, fight global warming and create partnerships with local governments.
Environment America works on coal, nuclear and renewable energy issues in Nevada and nationally.
“The next president will face an unprecedented energy crisis and boundless clean energy opportunities,” said Melisa Stodieck, a spokeswoman for Environment America. She said the report, “Putting America on the Path to Clean Energy,” “lays out what putting that vision and commitment to work looks like within the first 100 days in office.”
The full report and pledge are available at www.environmentamerica.org.