By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: Gov. Brian Sandoval said today he had productive meetings in Washington, DC, including talks with federal officials about clearing the way for permits to be approved so mining companies can expand and hire more workers.
Sandoval said there are several permits awaiting action that mining officials have told him could lead to the creation of 1,000 high-paying jobs in rural Nevada.
Creating jobs in Nevada is Sandoval’s top priority as governor. Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the nation and ranks first in home foreclosures as well.
Sandoval met with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Bob Abbey, director of the Bureau of Land Management, to talk about ways to get the permits approved so the mining industry could expand. He also met with an official with the Environmental Protection Agency, which is also involved in the permitting process.
“The concern for me was that there are several permits that are pending before the BLM that have been there for years,” he said. “And so my message was to see if we could expedite the consideration or what was the (cause of the) delay in doing that.”
Sandoval said Salazar has committed to talking with the mining industry about the permits.
There has been significant investment in those mines, he said.
“So I had a very productive meeting with the secretary,” Sandoval said. “It means a lot of jobs to our state, it is very important to our rural economy and I was very, very pleased at how receptive he was to that meeting.
“So I think it is an exciting development,” Sandoval said. “The secretary has made it a priority for him and I’m looking forward to a continued dialogue.”
Sandoval said the jobs that would come with the mining expansion pay on average $70,000 annually. There would also be a benefit to Nevada from taxable sales purchases of equipment by the mining companies, and eventually an increase in the net proceeds tax, he said.
Sandoval said the meeting with Salazar involved other issues important to Nevada, including wild horses.
The meeting regarding the mining industry permits was just one of many for Sandoval. He met with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, among others. The conversation with LaHood touched on the concept of a new interstate 11 connecting Las Vegas and Phoenix and on the potential for high speed rail between Las Vegas and Southern California.
Sandoval also met with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and had a discussion about the state’s potential interest payments on the money it has borrowed from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits.
“My understanding now is that the interest would be deferred and that the clock wouldn’t be running which would be beneficial to the state of Nevada,” he said.
If the proposal survives the federal budget process, it could mean $66 million to the Nevada general fund.
Sandoval and his 14-year-old daughter Maddy also visited the White House, where she met President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
“It was an incredible four days,” he said.
Sandoval also attended the National Governors Association meeting during the visit.
Now back in Nevada, Sandoval will continue his focus on jobs with an announcement Thursday in Las Vegas with Microsoft Corp. executives about a new technology center.
“It is exactly what I talked about in my State of the State,” he said. “That we’re going to identify these business clusters that we can capitalize on and technology is one of those.”
The center will produce a “few hundred” new high technology jobs and expand Microsoft’s presence in the state, Sandoval said.
Gov. Brian Sandoval says he meet with Interior Secretary Salazar to see if mining permits can be processed:
Sandoval says mining jobs are important to Nevada’s economy:
Sandoval says Interior Secretary Salazar was receptive to his concerns: