Posts Tagged ‘water’

Coalition Calls For Rejection Of Groundwater Pumping Project By Southern Nevada Water Authority

By Sean Whaley | 2:00 am November 29th, 2011

CARSON CITY – A coalition of environmental groups opposed to a plan by the Southern Nevada Water Authority to pump groundwater from rural Nevada to Las Vegas to supply future demand says the project is unnecessary, expensive and would cause harm to the environment.

The coalition said it has more than 1,000 statements from Nevada residents expressing concern about the project to present to the Nevada State Engineer, who will rule early next year on the first set of groundwater applications reviewed during a lengthy hearing that ended Nov. 18.

Courtesy of the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

Public comment is still being accepted by the agency through Dec. 2.

“In tough economic times, it is outrageous that such a boondoggle could be approved,” said Marie Logan, Nevada organizer for Food & Water Watch. “This pipeline project would only benefit a handful of developers while the 2.6 million Nevada taxpayers and thousands of Las Vegas ratepayers will be stuck paying the bill for a project that will ultimately bankrupt the state’s natural resources.”

The Center for Biological Diversity will also be submitting more than 21,000 comments in opposition to the project gathered nationally to Gov. Brian Sandoval, the water authority and the State Engineer.

Utah ranchers, Native American tribes, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and rural Nevadans formally protested the applications during the hearing process. They argued that granting the applications would harm the environment and destroy their way of life. The water applications would potentially affect Utah communities as well.

Several Southern Nevada labor groups have supported the project.

The water authority argued in the hearing that the plan to acquire unappropriated groundwater rights in rural Nevada to supplement Southern Nevada’s supply of Colorado River water is absolutely essential to the economic future of the region.

The authority said the water would not be tapped for many years if the applications are approved. Beyond the hearing process, construction of a 300-mile pipeline to bring the water to Southern Nevada will take 10 to 15 years. The pipeline project cost is estimated at $7 billion, a figure opponents said is well below what it will actually cost ratepayers.

Launce Rake, representing the Great Basin Water Network, said the actual estimate when financing costs are included is $15 billion. The cost of the project will be borne by water customers, who will see significant increases to pay for it, he said. The residential construction growth that was to pay for the project is no longer there, Rake said.

“It’s going to triple residential water bills,” he said. “It’s going to more than double bills for small businesses. And when you start looking at the impact on our recession-ravaged community of sucking $15 billion out of that community, that’s pretty significant.”

Rake said Southern Nevada is now using about 200,000 acre feet of its allocation from the Colorado River. There is a healthy reserve available to ensure a reliable water supply well into the future, he said.

Despite the controversy over the project, or maybe because of it, Nevada’s elected officials have been mostly absent from the debate.

One exception is Assemblyman Joe Hogan, D-Las Vegas, who testified in opposition to the project at the hearing, citing environmental concerns. He also spoke at the coalition’s event Monday in Las Vegas, citing the potential costs of protracted litigation over the project.

Hogan said the environmental consequences of the project are highest on his list of concerns. But there are also the costs of dealing with potential legal claims arising from the pumping of the groundwater.

The Los Angeles Water and Power Department has expended $1 billion on remediation for environmental damage in the Owens Lake area from that water diversion completed decades ago, he said.

“The remediation that is needed will be what makes those things really become very large layouts in future years,” Hogan said.

Hogan said the need for jobs is one likely reason why many elected officials are staying silent on the pipeline project.

“I think that accounts for some of the timidity,” he said.

Rake said that because taking a position either way would alienate someone,  it has been easier for elected officials to stay out of the debate.

“I do know that there are a number of elected officials who are concerned about the impact of this,” he said. “And I think that a growing number of elected officials are more than just concerned, but they’re becoming aware that the cost, both environmentally and financially, is really, really pretty significant.”

-

Audio clips:

Launce Rake, representing the Great Basin Water Network, says a growing number of elected officials are concerned:

112811Rake1 :17 really pretty significant.”

Rake says people of all political persuasions should be concerned:

112811Rake2 :25 concerned about this.”

Assemblyman Joe Hogan says the potential for remediation costs are significant:

112811Hogan :31 correcting the situation.”

 

BLM Solicits Public Comment on Controversial Water Pipeline Project

By Anne Knowles | 4:44 pm August 2nd, 2011

 

A series of public meetings on the plan to transport water from rural Nevada to Las Vegas is expected to draw a diverse group of allies trying to stop the controversial project.

Dozens of ranchers, farmers, hunters, tribal representatives, business owners and conservationists are expected to voice their opposition to the plan at the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) first gathering tonight at Pioche Elementary School, 180 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

The federal agency is hosting the meetings to answer questions and take public comment on its draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on the groundwater importation scheme.

“My guess is we’ll have between 30 and 250 people at each meeting,” said Susan Lynn, executive director of Public Resource Associates in Reno and a member of the board of directors at Great Basin Water Network, a coalition of about 40 groups working together to halt what it calls a “water grab.”

“We’ve strongly urged them to turn out if they want to be heard and if they want to register their concerns,” said Lynn. “And if they want more information because, frankly, a lot of information is missing from the draft environmental impact statement. The Southern Nevada Water Authority has not done anything to include costs, it has not really provided a valid argument for why this specific project is needed, and other alternatives for water sources have not been included. We feel there are some gaping holes that need to be addressed.”

Published in June, the EIS covers the first phase of the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s (SNWA) proposal to build a 300-mile pipeline to transport as much as 176,655 acre-feet of water annually to Las Vegas, from as far away as southeastern White Pine County.

The EIS looks only at the main pipeline, power line and primary lateral facilities, but the master project also calls for pumping stations, a water treatment facility, an underground water reservoir and other infrastructure needed to convey the water through White Pine, Lincoln and Clark counties.

The SNWA is applying to the BLM for the rights-of-ways (ROW) on federal lands needed to build the pipeline, and the BLM is required by law to produce a study or an EIS on major projects under the so-called NEPA process (National Environmental Policy Act).

If all the ROWs are approved and the Nevada state engineer grants all necessary water rights, the pipeline could begin conveying water to Las Vegas from Delamar Valley in Lincoln County by 2020, according to the EIS.

Understanding the environmental impact statement

The EIS itself is a massive document; the executive summary alone is 90 pages. In it, the BLM looks at the project’s impact on wildlife, both on land and in water; rangeland and grazing; public safety and health; recreation, such as hunting; air quality; and soil and minerals, as well as the effect on local economies and culture, including Native American traditional values.

The EIS outlines the SNWA proposal, then six alternatives — five labeled A through E and a sixth called a No Action alternative – and their corresponding environmental impact assessments. The BLM does not specify what it calls a “preferred” alternative, but concludes that alternative A may be considered a “reasonable scenario” for the project.

The BLM is hosting nine meetings, starting with tonight’s gathering in Lincoln County’s Pioche and concluding on Aug. 18 with a meeting at the Sparks High School in northern Nevada.

In between, meetings will be held in Baker, Ely, Elko, Las Vegas and Alamo, Nevada, and in Delta and Salt Lake City, Utah, where the hydrographic basins from which SNWA plans to pump are located.  The BLM is also taking public comment via email and fax, or the public can send in comments to the agency’s Reno office. The deadline to submit comments, originally Sept. 9, has been extended to Oct. 11.

The meetings will start with an hour-long open house at which the public can ask questions of scientists involved in preparing the EIS as well as submit comments to a court reporter.

Representatives from SNWA will also be on hand to answer questions, but will have minimal involvement in what is a BLM-led meeting, said Bronson Mack, a spokesperson for the Las Vegas-based water authority.

Then, in an unusual but not unprecedented procedure, there will be a formal, two-hour hearing during which people can testify before a BLM hearing officer.

“We formulated this to meet the needs of the public,” said Penny Woods, project manager in the BLM’s Nevada Groundwater Projects office in Reno. “The public really wanted a hearing-style meeting.”

Woods said she expects public comment to exceed what the BLM collected during the project’s so-called scoping phase, in 2005-2006, after the SNWA applied for the ROWs in 2004, when the agency received about 7,000 comments.

Once the comments on the draft EIS come in, Wood said they would be analyzed by project scientists, who will write replies, and be included in the final EIS.

Will the comments make a difference?

“I think the BLM will listen to the comments,” said Doug Busselman, executive vice president of the Nevada Farm Bureau Federation, a Sparks-based advocacy group for the state’s farmers and ranchers. “But having been involved in the NEPA process before, I always equate it to the phantom double play in baseball: you don’t have to touch second base, you just have to get close enough to look like you did. Everything I’ve seen in the past — and I don’t see it any differently in this particular case — there are pre-determined outcomes and the NEPA process becomes more of a justification to say, we considered what we needed to consider and we’re going to do what we’re going to do.”

Still, Busselman is strongly encouraging his members to attend the BLM meetings as well as the upcoming state engineer hearings.

“I think the water engineer’s decision is going to be driven by whatever science and evidence is presented in the water hearings themselves and whether the models that have been developed by the Southern Nevada Water Authority stand the test of being challenged or whether the folks that are opposed to it are able to present information that would substantiate their claims,” said Busselman.

“I think the strongest argument is the whole sustainability issue,” he said. “At some point in time, when the water runs out, they’ve spent a lot of money to create an infrastructure that may not have any water left in it to move water down. It really comes down to a sustainability issue not only for the impacted lands but also for those receiving water on the other end.”

The project does face another hurdle when the state engineer decides whether to grant SNWA the needed water rights for as much as 80,000 acre-feet of water in Spring, Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys.

The engineer had previously allocated those rights to SNWA, but that was overturned when the Nevada Supreme Court ruled last year on a suit brought by the Great Basin Water Network. The high court said the state engineer had not taken action on SNWA’s water rights application in 1989 within a year, as required by law, forcing SNWA to reapply.

Those new hearings, open to the public, are being held at the Nevada State Legislature in Carson City starting Sept. 26 and continuing through until Nov. 18. A day for public comment is scheduled for Oct. 7, four days before the BLM comment period closes.

Possible problem from outside Nevada

But the project’s biggest stumbling block may be Utah, according to Pat Mulroy, general manager of SNWA, who appeared on Nevada NewsMakers today.

“There is still tremendous push back out of Utah. We had a negotiated agreement that has yet to be finalized on the Utah side,” said Mulroy. “It sitting in Utah and there seems to be no willingness on the Utah side.”

Mulroy said the issue may have to be resolved either by Congress or taking it to the U.S. Supreme Court to gain what she said was an equitable apportionment of Snake Valley, which straddles the two states.

Great Basin Water Network is confident the project can be curtailed if not stalled, one way or another.

“I really do strongly feel there is a chance that this will be reduced in size or not happen at all because I think there are so many other alternatives, at lower cost,” said Lynn. “I hope that rational minds will prevail on the costs and impacts.”

___

Audio clips:

Nevada Farm Bureau Federation’s Busselman says SNWA project is unsustainable:

07282011Busselman :15 move water down.”

 

Great Basin Water Network’s Lynn says public comment should be civil and fact-based:

07292011Lynn1 :13 with the facts.”

 

Lynn says the project will destroy Nevada’s rural landscape:

07292011Lynn2 :23 landscapes out there.”

 

Resolution Seeks Federal Government Discussion Over Water Contamination At Nevada Test Site

By Sean Whaley | 2:44 pm March 15th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Nevada is getting shortchanged from the federal government when it comes to addressing contamination from the underground nuclear weapons testing era, with the Nevada Test Site getting only a small amount of funding for cleanup efforts, a state lawmaker said today.

Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley, testified in support of his measure, Assembly Joint Resolution 5, which seeks discussions with the federal government over much-needed cleanup efforts from years of underground testing of nuclear weapons at the site northwest of Las Vegas that has resulted in massive groundwater contamination.

Assemblyman Ed Goedhart/Photo: Cathleen Allison/NevadaPhotoSource.com

The resolution is supported by 19 other lawmakers.

Now called the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), the facility was used from 1951 to 1992 to detonate hundreds of nuclear warheads, most of them underground, Goedhart told the members of the Assembly Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining Committee.

“Each explosion deposited a toxic load of radioactivity into the ground and in some cases directly into the aquifer,” he said. “The underground contamination under the NNSS is the most significant contamination in the country.”

Even so, “the Department of Energy has ranked Nevada at the very bottom of its priority list for cleaning up major sites in the nuclear weapons complex,” Goedhart said. “The test site only receives about $65 million a year out of DOE’s nuclear cleanup budget. Contrast this paltry sum to the $1.8 billion spent annually cleaning up the Hanford plutonium production site in Washington state.”

Nevada’s contamination is 1,000 times worse than at Hanford, he said.

Nye County consulting hydrogeologist Tom Buqo has estimated the underground tests have polluted 1.6 trillion gallons of water, as much as the Southern Nevada Water District is allowed to draw from the Colorado River in 16 years, Goedhart said.

“The federal government needs to ‘man up’ and either clean up, or pay up,” he said.

Darrell Lacy, director of community development for Nye County, also testified in support of the resolution, saying the contaminated waters cannot be used for economic development. When Nye County sought uncontaminated water on and adjacent to the test site, the applications were opposed by the U.S. Dept of Energy. Most of the applications were denied by the Nevada State Engineer, and they are currently on appeal, he said.

The concern is that pumping groundwater might accelerate the movement of contaminated groundwater from the test site, Lacy said.

Goedhart said water is in short supply in Southern Nevada, so having a large amount of it contaminated is a serious economic problem for the region. He could not put a dollar value on the water, saying the intent of the resolution is to raise awareness of the federal government’s inequity to Nye County and Nevada.

Several other speakers, including Kyle Davis, political director for the Nevada Conservation League, and Nancy Scott, representing the League of Women Voters, testified in support of the resolution.

No one spoke in opposition.

The committee did not immediately act on the measure.

Audio clips:

Assemblyman Ed Goedhart says underground testing contaminated groundwater at the Nevada Test Site:

031511Goedhart1 :23 into the aquifer.”

Goedhart says Nevada is at the bottom of the federal government’s priority list for cleanup:

031511Goedhart2 :10 nuclear weapons complex.’

Goedhart says the Hanford site in Washington gets far more money:

031511Goedhart3 :17 in Washington state.”

Goedhart says the federal government needs to clean up the site or pay up:

031511Goedhart4 :05 pay up, thank-you.”

 

 

State Lawmaker Speaks Out Against Unfunded Federal Mandates

By Sean Whaley | 12:37 pm March 7th, 2011

CARSON CITY – A state lawmaker testified today that the federal government’s unfunded mandates on issues such as clean air, clean water and flood zones are imposing costs on Nevada taxpayers without authority or justification.

Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, spoke in support of Senate Joint Resolution 6 before the Senate Government Affairs Committee.

“Nevada can no longer afford the federal mandates that are coming down, the unfunded federal mandates,” he said. “The national programs that are forced upon our state’s taxpayers that we have to bear, we just can’t afford.”

The resolution, if approved, would be sent to Nevada’s Congressional delegation, and to the rest of Congress, asking that the federal government respect the right of the state to deal with those issues not under national control as explained in the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Settelmeyer cited a decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to identify 2,500 acres of land in Douglas County as a flood zone even though there was no historical evidence to support the decision. As a result, Douglas County must now purchase costly flood insurance on the land it owns, he said.

Another example was a federal decision to reduce the level of naturally-occurring arsenic in water supplies requiring treatment from 100 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion with no scientific data to back up the change, Settelmeyer said. The result has been the requirement for costly water treatment projects throughout northern Nevada to deal with a new unfunded mandate, he said.

Settelmeyer said Congress needs to be reminded that states have the right to govern themselves on a wide variety of issues. A similar resolution SJR1, was approved by the Nevada Legislature in 1995 with the unanimous support of both Republicans and Democrats.

The federal government’s powers are limited, while those belonging to the states are, “numerous and indefinite,” he said. “Yet that is not what we’ve seen occur over a period of time from the federal government.”

John Wagner of Carson City, a member of the Independent American Party, cited the federal Real ID Act imposing requirements on the states regarding the issuing of driver’s licenses as a reason to support the resolution. The act requires the licenses to contain a microchip that can track people wherever they go, he said.

The act is a mandate that exceeds federal authority, Wagner said.

“But I just don’t like the idea of the federal government mandating to the states: ‘you must do this,’ ” he said. “We’re supposed to be sovereign states according to the 10th Amendment.”

Asked for a comment on the status of Real ID, Tom Jacobs, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, said a microchip was never part of the law. Jacobs said Nevada stopped issuing Real ID compliant driver’s licenses in April 2010 after emergency regulations expired. The Legislature chose not to address the issue and, without regulations, the department wasn’t authorized to issue the card, he said.

Tom Cornell, representing the Nevada Libertarian Party, said his concern with inappropriate federal intrusion into state issues is with funded, not unfunded, mandates.

The Department of Homeland Security, for example, has billions of dollars in funding it can use as incentives to obtain compliance from state and county governments with its laws and regulations, he said.

Elko County Commissioner Demar Dahl said the biggest economic development challenge facing the rural Nevada county over the next 20 years is keeping the federal government out of the way. The county is currently in a battle with the U.S. Forest Service over a plan to close hundreds of miles of forest roads, he said. Dahl spoke as an individual, not as a representative of the commission.

Elko County became a battleground with the federal government in the 1990s over the rebuilding of a road washed out in a flood. The U.S. Forest Service opposed reconstruction. The dispute brought national media attention to the remote area of Jarbidge Canyon in northeast Nevada.

The federal government’s control of most of Nevada’s land has led to a number of disputes between residents and various federal agencies over the years, including the “Sagebrush Rebellion” originally a fight over the designation of wilderness areas in Nevada and other western states.

About 87 percent of Nevada is controlled by federal agencies, according to the Nevada Legislative Guide.

A number of other speakers, including Doug Busselman, executive vice president of the Nevada Farm Bureau, also supported the resolution.

But Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, a member of the committee, said federal government initiatives over the past many decades, such as the creation of the interstate highway system, have been a boon to Nevada and the nation.

Nevada currently needs new transmission lines built which cannot be done without the support of the federal government, he said. The new bridge across the Colorado River would not have been accomplished without federal government support, Schneider said.

Nevadans with their strong libertarian streak sometimes get caught up with the idea of keeping the federal government out of the state’s business, but, “I think the federal government maybe needs to do more than they even do today,” he said.

The federal government’s involvement in state activities should not be unbridled, however, Schneider said.

The committee did not take immediate action on the resolution.

Audio clips:

Sen. James Settelmeyer says Nevada cannot afford unfunded federal mandates:

030711Settelmeyer1 :16 just can’t afford.”

Settelmeyer says the federal government has exceeded its authority:

030711Settelmeyer2 :09 the federal government.”

Carson City resident John Wagner says states are supposed to be sovereign:

030711Wagner :11 this legislation, thank-you.”

Marnell Threatens to Sue State?

By Elizabeth Crum | 10:02 am March 2nd, 2010

Very interesting indeed.

Ralston just posted and Tweeted a threat-to-sue letter from M Resort attorney Chris Kaempfer to the Clean Water Coalition (and cc’ing Buckley and Horsford among others).

Background:  A bunch of gaming companies including the M Resort contributed to a $62M fund of water connection fees (“Clean Water Coalition”) to be used for a project that is now on hold.  The M is apparently not too happy that the $700K+ it contributed is now going toward hole-patching in the state budget via measures passed during the legislative special session last week.

Other gamers who contributed major sums (also via @RalstonFlash):

Fontainebleu — $1.8 million

Venetian — $1.2 million

Hard Rock — $892K

Caesars — $860k

Planet Hollywood — $806K

Southpoint — $395kK

Encore — $647K

City Center — $362K

Palazzo — $31K

The letter says that the M Resort does not “consent, and will not accept, that those funds can be used for any other purpose than for the specific purpose for which they were intended” and that the purpose of the letter “is to put all on notice that if these monies are in fact used for any other purpose…our client will be constrained to file appropriate action to have those fees returned…”

Ralston has the letter posted.

Afternoon Updates, Gibbons in Leg Building, Possible Deal Tonight?

By Elizabeth Crum | 5:32 pm February 27th, 2010

The governor is in Buckley’s office with both she and Horsford.  We’re hearing there is a strong possibility of a deal tonight.  We can only hope…

Notes/snippets:

– Re: gaming, Horsford said earlier there’s a “placeholder” for them. Meaning, prob’ly, we’ll ding ‘em with whatever is needed at the end.

– Looks like we’ll hear Water, but many in Assembly saying there is not enough time to fully examine and understand it now.  Want to wait until 2011 session.  A consultant submitted a letter on the issue today; Ralston has it.  Not long after it was posted, Bob Fulkerson of PLAN sent out an email missive pointing to the link to the letter on Ralston’s blog and saying the following:

The memo linked above is from a California financial manager with extensive financial ties to Clark County. (Yes, it is in his self interests to do what Pat Mulroy tells him to.) It has just been delivered to members of the NV Legislature.

It’s a thinly veiled threat that, without coming right out and saying it, admonishes the Legislature to overturn the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding due process for water protestants. Failure to act now could threaten credit for Las Vegas, the memo alleges. It completely ignores the fact that further additional processes will not even truly delay SNWA’s Pipeline Project, which will not be built for many years anyway – if ever.

The memo is a gross over-reaction to a very narrow ruling in a case involving major Constitutional due process problems. These issues cannot be legislated away. Trying to do so will only create a more complicated mess for every branch of Nevada’s government.

If you have not contacted your legislators yet telling them what an abominations this bill is, please do so right now!

– Earlier, Ralston Flashed that “lawmakers have only transmitted two of the session’s bills to the governor’s office” — electronic child support measure and the bill to pay for the special session — “leading the Gibbonsites to believe they hope to send most over at once so the veto clock is synchronized on them. No one wants the veto/override scenario but it’s possible lawmakers are not taking any chances so are holding all bills until a deal is reached.”

– Education progress:  Passage of three bills: AB4, AB5 and ACR 2.  AB4 provides school districts the flexibility in previously mandated class-size reductions for first-to-third grades (i.e. allows districts to increase student-teacher ratios by 2 students per class – 18-to-1 in 1st and 2nd grades, and 21-to-1 for 3rd).  Will result in some teacher layoffs and/or transfers in some counties.  AB2 allows school districts the flexibility to use money that has been specifically earmarked for new textbook purchases to be used for other stuff.  Both AB4 and AB2 are temporary; they sunset on 6/30/11.  ACR2 asks school districts to make every effort to do what they can to avoid massive layoffs and make sure that the quality of education does not diminish during the crisis.

– LG Brian Krolicki earlier testified before the Assembly on the GOP’s idea to securitize unclaimed property funds. Dems grilled him as to why trading future revenue for a one-time payoff is a good idea. Some of my Tweets from that interaction:

– Krolicki on Assembly floor: “This idea to monetize unclaimed property is only a tool to bridging gap…could generate up to $120M.”

– Krolicki (cont): “…agreeing 2 enter into selling of securities…need 2 pledge at 2x coverage ($14M/year) at conservative rate (5%)”

– Speaker Buckley interrupts Krolicki: “I am going to put a limit on length of Qs & As. We’d like to sine die sometime soon.” #nvss #amen

Note:  #nvss = nevada special session (search and follow the tag for all the coverage)

– Conklin to Krolicki: “…aren’t we just adding to next biennium’s shortfall by taking this money?” Krolicki: “Better of bad options”

– Gansert 2 Krolicki: “Could this be held as a last resort, maybe even pull trigger in 2011; how fast could we move?” K: “60 to 90 days”

– State Treasurer Kate Marshall on reality of $ from unclaimed property: “$50M in ’09 was record year. $77M in, $27M paid back.”

– Buckley asking about side-by-side analysis of this in other states. Marshall says CA & AZ did similar, bond/credit rating downgraded.

And a good Tweet from Ralston:

– I am puzzled: Why is this monetization scheme any more ridiculous than any of the other gimmicks they are using to balance the budget? #nvss

– Ed Goedhart, the sole “no” vote on two Assembly measures so far, reconfirms he will vote “no” on all “revenue enhancing measures,” even the ones suggested by his fellow Republicans, with the exception of borrowing money from the Clark County School District Capital Projects Fund and the possible exception of borrowing from the Clark County Reclamation Fund.  When asked if he will be the “sole” No vote on the other measures, he said, “I wouldn’t be surprised.”  His explanation is the same as always when asked.  “These are temporary band-aids. We’re looking at a $3 billion shortfall in the next biennium.  We need reform, not these desperate measures that kick the can down the road.”

– Other Assembly Republicans are not saying much (at least, not to me).  Snapped and Tweeted a pic of Oceguera discussing the budget with Settlemeyer, Hambrick, Goicoechea and Hardy during a brief Assembly recess earlier this afternoon.  For whatever that is worth.

Gibbons Comments from Today’s Nevada Newsmakers

By Elizabeth Crum | 6:17 pm February 23rd, 2010

Governor Gibbons was on Nevada Newsmakers today.  At the start of the show, he got a series of questions about the mining tax plan and criticisms from conservatives about his breach of the Tax Pledge.  Gibbons defended the plan, saying it is about increasing revenue by “closing loopholes.”

He did add, “I guess anytime you increase the amount of revenue from taxes, it’s a tax increase” but then went on to say of/about his critics, “I like these guys, they are very smart, very bright and very supportive of me – but we just happen to disagree on terminology here. I am not increasing taxes.”

(sigh)

Re: fee increases in gaming and whether doing that is similar enough in nature to the mining tax increase for Gibbons to support it, he said, “The mining industry says ‘we agree with this’.  I have not talked to the gaming industry about a tax proposal…but I am reluctant to support any fee or tax that isn’t brought in with 100% support of the industry.  It has to have broad support of industry.”

“It needs to be close to unanimous support without a lot of opposition. I’ve said that all along,” Gibbons added.

When asked about criticisms of various of his budget proposals, Gibbons acknowledged them but added, “The Democrats have not come forward with plans.  We have not seen their plan to solve this budget problem.”

When asked about omitting Race to Top and water in the special session, Gibbons echoed what he said this morning on the Nevada News Bureau‘s blogger conference call:  “Both are critical. Both will be in the special session.  We left them off because we felt the call of the special session ought to be first, the budget. We fully intend to amend the call; we can bring that in. That is our plan.”

When asked about the contentious tone of the public dialogue between he and Senator Raggio, Gibbons said, “I am very surprised that Raggio would take that attitude, that tactic at this point.”

When asked about his own counter-attacks on Raggio, Gibbons said, “Well, I’m going to do that, yes, if that is the way he is going to be.”

“During our budget talks, our meetings, we invited Raggio and others,” Gibbons added. We briefed them time and time again; we have listened to their ideas.  But Raggio never showed up most of the time to a lot those meetings.”

At the end of the show, Gibbons told Shad, “I have a brand new veto stamp.”