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VICTOR JOECKS: To battle global warming, Nevada bureaucrats want more HOV lanes, fewer cow farts

Nevada’s quixotic quest to stop global warming requires more HOV lanes and less cow flatulence, according to government bureaucrats. They also suggest raising the gasoline tax and stopping new homes from having natural gas-powered appliances.

Last year, Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a bill requiring state bureaucrats to propose policies that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Nevada. The 2025 goal was a 28 percent reduction below 2005 emissions levels. Additional benchmarks included a 45 percent reduction below 2005 levels by 2030 and near-zero emissions by 2050. But report released last week shows the state falling short of those ambitious goals. The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection projects that 2025 emissions will be 24 percent under 2005 levels. In 2030, they will be 26 percent below 2005. Meeting the 2030 goal of a 45 percent reduction will require significant changes.

Transportation is responsible for almost 40 percent of Nevada’s net emissions. Of that amount, 81 percent comes from gasoline and diesel fuel. Bottom line: Reducing emissions requires getting you out of your gasoline-powered vehicle.

“Adopt pricing strategies such as increasing fuel taxes to reduce single occupant vehicle usage/driving of personal vehicles,” one proposal reads.

The pen pushers also want politicians to consider using HOV lanes “rather than general purpose lanes, for any proposed highway expansion.” As the Review-Journal editorial board has noted, however, Nevada’s Department of Transportation has no evidence that HOV lanes increase carpooling. If politicians agreed to this boneheaded scheme, it’s just as likely it would boost emissions by increasing congestion.

Some ideas are right out of fantasyland. Nevada should “adopt a solution” that “provides safe and reliable alternatives to single occupant vehicle travel,” one says. Yes, teleportation would be awesome. It also doesn’t exist.

There’s a suggestion to force large employers to reduce vehicle trips created by their business. Because — as everyone knows — companies currently pay their employees to drive around aimlessly. “Cash for clunkers” gets a mention.

The other major source of emissions, at 36 percent, is electrical generation. Emissions from power production are down almost 50 percent since 2005. That’s not enough for some. These bean counters propose a 100 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard by 2050.

For those who think it’ll be easy to replace natural gas with solar power — think again. In 2018, just 12 percent of Nevada’s power came from solar. One of the big problems with solar energy is that production peaks before demand reaches its daily high point. Battery storage may solve that problem some day, but that day isn’t close. Instead, the suggestion here is to create programs that reduce electricity use “during periods of time when renewable generating facilities cannot be relied upon.” I hope you enjoy rolling blackouts.

Other proposals include preventing “the installation of gas lines to newly constructed homes and businesses.” Another is to “promote practices to reduce emissions from enteric fermentation,” which is a fancy term for cow belches and flatulence.

Consciously absent from this report is nuclear power, which is a reliable energy source that doesn’t produce greenhouse gases. If you’re serious about reducing emissions, nuclear power is a must. Its absence makes this report look like an effort to provide political cover for ideas liberals already want to implement.

Destructive as they are, these proposals wouldn’t make a noticeable difference — even if you fully buy into global warming hysteria. In 2016, Nevada accounted for 0.68 percent of U.S. emissions. Globally, that’s a rounding error, especially when China is adding new coal power plants equal to the entire coal output of the European Union.

If Nevada politicians are serious about reducing emissions, they should build nuclear power plants and open up Yucca Mountain. These other ideas are costly virtue signals, not solutions.

Victor Joecks is a columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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