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OPINION: Ensign takes credit for geothermal lease revenue after voting to block it



By Phoebe Sweet

nevdemparty-300x61-4743708-6766887LAS VEGAS–Today Sen. John Ensign not only voted against a bill that will bring millions in revenue to Nevada’s rural counties at a time when it is badly needed, but then tried to take credit for its passage.

Today Sen. Harry Reid led the passage of the American Workers, State and Business Relief Act, which extended unemployment benefits and COBRA assistance to out-of-work people. The bill also included an amendment cosponsored by Sen. Reid and Sen. Ensign that would ensure that rural counties get the revenue they deserve from geothermal energy development.

Until a few months ago, rural counties got a quarter of the revenue from geothermal leases on federal land, a provision that brought in $17.8 million for Nevada counties and $35.6 million for the state since 2007. But the rule was changed in September, and this amendment would reverse that and ensure rural Nevada counties get their fair share.

Despite having cosponsored the amendment, John Ensign twice voted to block the bill today, first voting against cloture and then voting against the bill itself.

Just an hour later, the hypocrite tried to take credit for the boon to rural Nevada, posting to his Twitter account this message: “Geothermal royalties are returning to their rightful recipients: the taxpayers of Nevada.” No thanks to John Ensign, that is.

“Sen. Ensign clearly knows how important this funding is to rural counties. After all, he cosponsored the amendment and was quick to take credit for the good news,” said Phoebe Sweet, communications director for the Nevada State Democratic Party. “But obviously playing politics took precedence today, as Ensign not only voted against helping rural counties, but also against helping fellow Nevadans who are struggling to find work. His constituents deserve better than this kind of callous partisanship from a man who supposedly represents their interests.

“They’re just lucky they have a representative like Sen. Reid in Washington willing to do what’s right for Nevada.”

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