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In the late 1990s, Nevada began working with activists and environment-related industries to develop a statewide plan for renewable energy. By 2001, the legislature had bipartisan support to institute what was then the most aggressive renewable portfolio standard of the time. The standard promoted the use of biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind energy as a means of reducing toxic emissions from fossil fuels. The Nevada Public Utility Commission was ordered to work with individual electric service providers to increase renewable energy to five percent in 2003, seven percent in 2005, nine percent in 2007, 11 percent in 2009, 13 percent in 2011, and 15 percent each year thereafter. Five percent of each renewable energy requirement must be derived from solar sources. Utilities may earn credits for up to 25 percent of the standards by instituting efficiency measures, and the state helps to defray costs involved.

In April 2007, the governor of Nevada established the 13-member Climate Change Advisory Committee and charged them with making recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions throughout the state. A major focus of the committee's work is directed toward identifying methods for developing renewable energy resources that will protect the environment without threatening economic stability. Individuals on the committee represent local governments, state agencies, the academic sector, environmental groups, and the mining and energy industries.

Mining has historically been one of the major industries in Nevada, and mining is generally considered a major threat to the environment. Nevada's Mercury Emissions Testing Program is designed to control toxic emissions in Nevada mines. The first stage of the project began in spring 2007 with testing at the state's largest precious metal mine. As mandated by law, the Division of Environmental Protection conducts annual tests of emissions from the exhaust stacks of all units that potentially produce mercury. One of the purposes of the initial testing is to identify the forms of mercury emitted in order to understand the environmental impact of the emissions and determine acceptable emission levels.

SEE ALSo: Carbon Emissions; Coal; Deserts; Energy.

BIBLIoGRApHY. Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, www.dcnr.nv.gov (cited November 2007); Nevada Department of Environmental Protection, www.ndep.nv.gov (cited November 2007); Pew Center, www.pewclimate.org (cited November 2007); U.S. Public Interest Research Group, The Carbon Boom: State and National Trends in Carbon Dioxide since 1990 (U.S. PIRG Education Fund, 2007).

Elizabeth R. Purdy Independent Scholar

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