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Nevada bill would fund comprehensive environmental study

People walk in front of The Venetian hotel-casino along the Las Vegas Strip, Friday, May 13, 2022, in Las Vegas.
John Locher
People walk in front of The Venetian hotel-casino along the Las Vegas Strip, Friday, May 13, 2022, in Las Vegas.

There are several bills about climate and the environment being proposed in the Nevada Legislature.

One assemblyman spoke with Nevada Public Radio about a bill he is sponsoring, focusing on environmental equity.

Assembly Bill 71 would commission a detailed study to determine what specific neighborhoods and communities are most at risk of environmental threats. Assemblyman Howard Watts of Las Vegas said while we may know about the effects of pollution or urban heat islands individually, understanding how these environmental issues collectively impact a community is important.

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“We’ve never taken all those things to combine them together and see are there areas, for example, near industrial zones and highways where a lot of these impacts stack up on each other," he said. "And the impacts that community faces are greater than an area that just might be dealing with one.”

Watts said it’s important to obtain factual information about the specific qualities of a neighborhood, especially in new developments or older communities experiencing heat islands.

“There might be certain things that we can do that would dramatically improve the quality of life. And those might vary from one community situation to the next. And what I’m hoping is that AB71 gives us the information and allows everybody to make those decisions," he said.

Nevada would be one of only three states to conduct this type of comprehensive environmental equity study.

“This is something that Nevada would be leading the nation on, in terms of taking on this wholistic approach. And again, doing that, not just in our urban areas but also in our rural areas," Watts said.

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If approved, about $700,000 would be allocated to conduct the study, which would be completed by December 2024.

Aside from this bill, there are several others environmental equity bills being considered, such as Assembly Bill 131, which calls for planting trees in neighborhoods that do not have enough shaded areas.

Yvette Fernandez is the regional reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau. She joined Nevada Public Radio in September 2021.
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