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Young Nevadans must use their voice in fight against climate change (opinion)


Submitted by Andrew Cirincione

As a fourth-generation Nevadan, my family came to this state knowing her rich possibilities and endless beauty. This Earth Month, I took time to reflect on the breathtaking landscape of our planet – in particular, Nevada’s natural environment. This is a time to celebrate the Earth, champion the work done to protect her environment, reflect on our shortcomings, and recommit ourselves to change the trajectory of the climate crisis. My name is Andrew Cirincione and this is a cause I, and millions of other young people like myself, are fighting for every day.

Because of climate change, Earth Month is bittersweet. While it is a time to celebrate and recommit ourselves to sustainable practices, it is also a reminder of the incredibly high stakes. The climate crisis poses a real threat to our environment, our health, and our economy. As a young person, I fear Trump will reverse all the progress we’ve made and cause irreparable damage to our environment and clean energy economy if re-elected.

Just look at Trump’s disastrous climate record as president: His anti-environment and anti-clean energy policies directly harmed Nevada. Mercury emissions in Nevada decreased by more than 96% from 2011 to 2017, an important victory in terms of protecting residents of our state. But in 2020, the Trump administration undermined limits on the amount of mercury and other toxic emissions from power plants. From 2020 to 2021, releases of mercury into the air increased by 9%.

In 2016, 23 public water systems in Nevada exceeded safe levels of contaminants set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Yet the Trump administration also scaled back pollution protections for certain tributaries and wetlands that were regulated under the Clean Water Act, which impacted 89% of our state’s waterways.

Trump’s record speaks for itself: he’s not a champion of the environment. He’s a friend to Big Oil and Gas, handing them $25 billion in tax breaks. President Biden, on the other hand, is investing in protecting our environment and health. 

President Biden is investing in clean energy jobs and training, investments that will also pay off in the long run by reducing emissions and asthma attacks. His administration just announced the first-ever national drinking water standard for PFAS, the “forever chemicals” that have been linked to higher rates of cancer, lower birth weights, reduced fertility, and high cholesterol.

Biden’s clean energy plan is also helping Nevadans save money. Families who install rooftop solar or battery storage in their homes can save up to 30% of the cost of installation via tax credits and save nearly $400 per year on their energy bills. These new tax credits will benefit more than 75,000 Nevada households.

In Nevada, sunlight is one of our greatest natural resources and we lead the nation in solar potential. We should continue leaning into this — we don’t have any time to waste. 

Reno and Las Vegas are the nation’s first and second-fastest warming cities. Nevada currently experiences an average of 20 extreme heat days per year, and by 2050, the state is projected to see nearly 30 such days per year. 

While this is dangerous for everyone, the burden is not borne equally. People of color are more likely to suffer the consequences of climate change through the urban heat island effect. In lower-income neighborhoods, residents are less likely to have air conditioning, easy access to public cooling centers, or the financial means to pay high electric bills. Biden’s clean energy plan is directly investing in communities disproportionately impacted by pollution and climate change. 

Recent polling shows that 85% of young voters are motivated by climate issues. I believe that a second Trump term will be disastrous for our state’s residents, environment, and clean energy economy. I want to be part of the solution to climate change, and I know many others in my generation agree. 

President Biden’s clean energy plan is expanding opportunities for Nevadans and bringing young people to the table on this issue. A second Trump term will do the opposite, by taking away clean energy opportunities and reversing course on climate progress. The choice between them isn’t much of a choice at all.

Andrew Cirincione
Andrew Cirincione

I got involved in politics at a young age, when I realized Donald Trump and his Republican Party were not fighting for me, my life, or my future. I know that is not a unique experience for millions of young people who felt they had no choice but to educate, organize, and vote. The climate crisis is a central issue because of this reality. Reflecting on this Earth Month, let us realize the pivotal moment in history we are in, and allow that to motivate us toward climate progress at the ballot box this November.

Andrew Cirincione is a fourth-generation Nevadan enrolled as an undergraduate at the University of Nevada, Reno.

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