Fighting Costly Coal Contamination in the Nevada Desert

July 31, 2012

Take I-15 northeast from Las Vegas and about 50 miles into the desert you’ll come across the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant. To Vegas residents who pay for the plant’s electricity to their homes and businesses, Reid Gardner has been largely unseen and unknown. Not so for families living on the Moapa River Indian Reservation. The coal plant has been their immediate next-door neighbor for nearly 50 years – and it’s been deadly.

Since the mid-1960s, Reid Gardner has been churning out asthma-inducing chemicals from its smokestacks and ash waste laden with heavy metals that gets piled higher and higher on a huge unlined heap. On windy days, the toxic ash waste blows into the Paiute community’s homes, onto outdoor play areas, and into people’s eyes and lungs.

To press for improvements, including the most beneficial option of retiring the plant in a transition to cleaner energy sources and increased energy efficiency, Resource Media has partnered closely with groups including the Moapa Band of Paiutes, Sierra Club, Western Environmental Law Center, Citizens for Dixie’s Future, and others to bring Reid Gardner out of obscurity. Here is a sample of some of the attention that has resulted from our work together, helping to make concerns and solutions around the coal plant known to ratepayers, investors, elected officials, and regulators:

  • Moapa Band of Paiutes Chairman William Anderson’s op-ed account of Reid Gardner’s pollution impact on his community, published in the Las Vegas Sun, Huffington Post, High Country News, Salt Lake Tribune, Indian Country Today, and other outlets around the southwest.
  • KLAS-TV Las Vegas’s investigative report, a two-part in-depth TV news story on Reid Gardner and its impacts on the Moapa Band of Pauites by Channel 8’s “I-Team.”
  • The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s print and online video coverage of the Moapa Band of Paiute’s unique “cultural healing walk,” a three-day, 50-mile on-foot pilgrimage from their reservation to Las Vegas to raise awareness about the Reid Gardner coal plant.
  • A column by a former Nevada attorney general and former Nevada utility regulator making the case for Reid Gardner retirement from an economic and electricity capacity standpoint.
  • News coverage of a Sierra Club report on the economics of retiring Reid Gardner in a transition to greater energy efficiency and cleaner electricity generation sources.