Author: Thomas Mitchell

Beware of California Censorship Law

Maybe it is time to update that old hippie paean that goes, “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair,” to: “If you’re going to California, be sure to leave your Bible at home.” Like Nevada, California has a law on the books making it illegal for any therapist to provide so-called conversion therapy to anyone under the age of 18. In Nevada that is defined as “any practice or treatment that seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a person.” It is illegal no matter whether the child or his or her parents are willing participants. Recently the California Assembly passed Assembly Bill 2943 on a vote of 50-14, making it unlawful to advertise, offer to engage in or engage in any effort whatsoever to change anyone’s sexual orientation by anyone at all. The bill specifically states: “Courts, including in California, have recognized the practice of sexual orientation change efforts as a commercial service. Therefore, claims that sexual orientation change efforts are effective in changing an individual’s sexual orientation, may constitute unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business practices under state consumer protection laws. This bill intends to make clear that sexual orientation change efforts are an unlawful practice under California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act.” Now, there are a number of passages in the Christian Bible and, or so we’re...

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BLM Calculates Costs of Wild Horse Options

The Bureau of Land Management sent to Congress late this past week a report outlining four options for reducing the wild horse and burro population in 10 Western states to sustainable levels. Only one of the four options includes the use of euthanasia, but that was enough to give the self-styled wild horse lovers palpitations. “The BLM today released a roadmap for destruction of America’s wild free-roaming horse and burros by virtually eradicating their populations on our Western public lands,” Suzanne Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Campaign, fired off in a press release. “The agency has failed to deliver the ‘humane and politically viable’ options requested by Congress, and instead has devised an irresponsible plan that is counter to public opinion …” The BLM report noted that there now are 83,000 wild horses and burros on a range that it says can adequately sustain no more than 26,715 such animals. In addition there are another 46,000 unadapted animals being warehoused in pens and holding pastures. The cost of maintaining those no-longer wild horses and burros drains 60 percent of the agency’s current $81 million annual budget for handling the animals. Though the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act called for unadoptable animals to be sold without restriction or humanely destroyed, Congress for the past decade has used budget riders to prohibit that. “Wild horses and...

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PUC Tilts at Power Choice Initiative

The Nevada Public Utilities Commission, which is tasked with regulating the state’s monopoly utilities, has put out a 109-page report detailing a litany of things that could go wrong if voters again approve at the ballot box in November a constitutional amendment creating a free market for electricity. In 2016 voters approved the Energy Choice Initiative by an overwhelming 72.4 percent to 27.6 percent. Because the measure would amend the state Constitution it is back on the ballot this fall for final voter approval, but this time around a coalition headed by the state’s largest power monopoly, NV Energy, has vowed to spend $30 million to defeat it. The PUC report reads like an in-kind contribution to that effort. A foreword signed by PUC Chairman Joe Reynolds declares that, while the concept of open markets is quintessentially American, “ensuring a non-stop supply of electricity to every home, business, and governmental entity in Nevada every second of every day of the year, regardless of the weather or economy, makes it unique from other goods and services. Electricity is a basic necessity of modern life. Like air. Like water. Like food.” Thank goodness for those government regulated monopoly grocery stores. While Reynolds says the report neither supports or opposes the initiative, the bulk of its findings appear to find fault with the proposal. The initiative would require the Legislature to pass...

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Highway Robbery on the Electric Highway

The state has released information on just how frequently those rural electric car recharging stations are being used, and it’s not exactly like those lines for gasoline back in the 1970s during the oil embargo. The Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy reports that drivers have charged their expensive electric vehicles 274 times at the three charging stations built by the state in Beatty, Fallon and Panaca along Highways 95 and 93 since the first one opened in early 2016, according to The Nevada Independent. The donation-funded news website reports this usage saved a total equivalent to 395 gallons of gasoline and dispensed 3,150 kilowatt-hours of electricity. It was dutifully noted that the usage rate is growing. The costs of these charging stations, which give away the power for free — dubbed the Nevada Electric Highway — has been a moving target. When the first one opened in Beatty in March 2016 the Governor’s Office of Energy said each would cost $15,000. In the summer of 2015 press accounts said each would cost $30,000. A June 2017 story in the Las Vegas newspaper quoted a spokesman for the governor as saying the cost of each station would range from $85,000 to $250,000, but he assured that “none of that comes from taxpayer dollars. The office is funding its portion of costs with federal grant money, and the electric utility covers...

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Opposition to Wind Farm Project Expressed

As part of its review process to determine whether to approve an application to allow construction of wind turbines on 32,000 acres of public land in Nevada adjacent to the California border just west of Searchlight, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) conducted a series of scoping meetings to allow public input. At a recent meeting in Las Vegas a half dozen speakers largely expressed support for renewable energy but not on the proposed site. According to a 2012 filing with the Nevada Public Utilities Commission, Crescent Peak Renewables is proposing to erect 220 wind turbine towers standing more than 400 feet high and generating 500 megawatts of power. The proposed site is adjacent to the Mojave National Preserve and the Castle Mountain National Monument in California and the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness and the South McCullogh Wilderness in Nevada. All of the land is in Nevada. Alan O’Neill, retired superintendent at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, testified there is a coalition of conservation organizations in California and Nevada that asked the BLM to hold off on issuing the notice of intent for the wind project until a supplemental resource management plan could be completed. O’Neill also said the groups asked that the area be designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). “What we’d like the BLM to do, and I’m speaking on behalf of a...

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