Living in the Shadow of a Dirty Coal Plant

by Guest Blogger

June 23, 2011

The Reid Gardner coal plant looms over the Moapa Pauites Reservation

How would you feel if you had 120 lbs. of mercury, and 14,000 lbs. of lead being dumped into your backyard each year? Imagine what it would feel like to be afraid to step outside when it’s windy in fear of your weak respiratory system failing after years of inhaling toxic coal ash.  What would it be like to see the land that your grandparents and great grandparents lived on be systematically poisoned by an ugly, dirty and deadly coal plant?

Just outside Las Vegas, Nevada, an entire community of the Moapa Band of Pauites is bearing the burden of NV Energy’s Reid Gardner coal plant abutting right up against their reservation. I recently visited with the Pauites and witnessed how they are literally living in the shadows of its four large smokestacks which looms over the Pauites’ beautiful desert community, including its playgrounds and its once frequently-swam Muddy River.

The Reid Gardner coal plant is nearly a half of century old and has been considered to be one of the dirtest coal plants in the country. Of the almost 400 people in the Moapa area, 207 individuals have health consequences directly correlated to the burning of coal and exposure to coal ash waste which include high asthma and reoccurring Allergic Rhinitis

For years now, members of the Pauites have filed complaints by calling the numbers provided to them by the alleged authorities regulating the plant. Ultimately, their efforts often only result in them being passed from one office to another, and then another, with no one taking substantive action. I believe this is unacceptable.

List of numbers to call when air quality is poor

Everyone deserves the right to breathe clean fresh air! For too long, coal plants across the country have unjustly forced their dirty polluting facilities into the backyards of communities, often poor communities of color or indigenous populations.  

Sadly, the Pauites story is not unique. However, Greenpeace, along with the Sierra Club and others in Nevada, are committed to work with the Pauites to change the ending of this story. Together, we are going to shut the Reid Gardner coal plant down and require that NV Energy provide renewable energy to the people in Nevada that is not at the expense of the health and well-being of others.

Stay tuned for future updates about the coal fight in Nevada…

Vinny Spotleson from the Sierra Club and Calvin, a local member of the Pauites, standing on the reservation in front of the coal plant

Sierra Club and Pauite leaders in the shadow of NV Energy’s Reid Gardner coal plant.

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