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Showing posts from September, 2012

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Coal Ash — and a Solar Solution

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This article originally appeared in Indian Country Today in August 2012.
At the August 7 National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas, Senator Harry Reid (D–NV) called Nevada Energy’s Reid Gardner Power Station a “dirty relic” and called for its closure. The coal-burning electric plant, some 50 miles north of the city, borders the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians’ reservation, producing what they describe as immense environmental pressures and chronic illnesses.
The tribe has not only vociferously criticized the plant but also has found what members see as a better way—one Tribal Chairman William Anderson says is in tune with nature. In June the Interior Department gave the Moapa Paiutes fast-tracked approval to build the first-ever utility-scale solar-energy project on tribal lands—which seems especially suitable in this region of year-round scorching sun. The 350-megawatt plant, to be built on Moapa Paiute trust land, should generate enough power for 100,000 homes, according to the agency, w…

Killer Crocodile Attack

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 A version of this story appeared in Indian Country Today in August 2012.

Alex Gonzalez, staffer at the Moapa Pauite Travel Plaza, tied together the long string fuses of several fireworks, lit them and pitched them into the desert night. On the horizon, across a dozen miles of flat, sandy ground, rugged grey crags were barely visible in the moonlight. The mountain range vanished briefly as flaming arcs of gold, green and purple lit up the sky.

Employees of the plaza, which claims it sells the “largest and most comprehensive selection of fireworks in the West,” will help you explode any ordnance you buy there in a staging area — the so-called Launching Pad — behind its facility some 30 miles north of Las Vegas. If you’re in a DIY mode, you can peruse long aisles of brightly colored boxes and choose among options that are “from safe to insane,” according to another staffer, then set them off yourself. 

While Gonzalez, who is Moapa Paiute and Latino, demonstrated the appeal of items like Ki…