Thousands Take to Streets for Northern Nevada March for Science


Science marchers gather at Reno City Hall on Saturday, April 22, for the Northern Nevada March for Science. Photo accredited to Joey Lovato, Nevada Sagebrush.

Originally published in The Nevada Sagebrush on April 25, 2017.

Scientists and science supporters adorned in lab coats and carrying signs flooded downtown Reno, Saturday for the Northern Nevada March for Science. Marchers took to the streets to show resistance towards President Donald J. Trump’s anti-environmental policies and budget proposals.

The Northern Nevada March for Science, along with over 600 other marches worldwide, showcased homemade signs from doctors, biologists, archaeologists, teachers, parents and their children and a diverse group of speakers.

The Reno Police Department estimated around 2,000 attended the Reno march.

As the last few stragglers of the crowd cleared the Virginia Street Bridge, they gathered into City Plaza where the marchers heard from a number of speakers.

“The science community many times has evaded participation in community activism, but not anymore,” said Sarah Mahler, chairperson for the Democratic Party of Washoe County.

Mahler emphasized her work as a doctor in veterinary medicine and as a mother before her efforts as chair, in which she facilitates the participation of Democrats in party activities and assists party members seeking public office and other positions.

“They’re just as active as any other community member,” Mahler said of the science community. “There’s a certain population that strives to remain non-partisan as a scientist, until this presidency. It’s united masses of people that otherwise would not spend a day together.”

Other demonstrators said they borrowed lab coats and drew up signs to express the importance of science. Those signs expressed the marcher’s desires to save bees, promote clean energy, encourage science education in elementary schools, political participation and scientific literacy.

On March 28, President Trump signed an executive order that scrapped six Obama era climate change policies and called for a complete review of the Clean Power Plan. The plan was essential for the U.S. to meet its goal for carbon emissions set in the landmark 2015 Paris agreement. His budget proposal to Congress calls for an 18 percent cut to the National Institutes of Health and a 31 percent cut and elimination of 3,200 EPA employees from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Ana Casareto and other community organizers held the first meeting for the Northern Nevada March for Science four days after the Trump administration ordered a media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. Trump’s order came four days after the Jan. 20 inauguration.

“We’re standing up against fiscal cuts to the scientific endeavor,” Casareto said. “To be a science advocate, you can be anybody and you should be everybody.”

Lack of political will from Nevada representatives Dean Heller and Mark Amodei was one of the reasons several marchers gave when asked why they had chosen to show their support for science. Heller and Amodei’s names appeared on several signs on Saturday, pleading them to vote against the president’s budget proposal and other policies.

“We don’t need coal-fired power plants, we don’t even need natural gas power plants,” said Christopher Ginac, a Reno resident. “Amodei and Heller, we need to make sure that they start voting the way that Nevadans want them to vote versus what their donors want. It’s all the money and lack of political will.”

Heather Simms, a kindergarten teacher at Natchez Elementary School in Wadsworth, Nev. said she marched to promote integration of science education in the earlier years of school.

“I think in elementary schools the focus is so much on reading and math, and we really need to integrate more sciences,” said Simms.

Simms also expressed the lack of political will in Nevada as a major hurdle.

“When we have representatives up for re-election we need to make sure their focus is science,” Simms said.

One sign seemingly out of place at the march read, “No Pebble Mine, Save Bristol Bay!” The sign was carried by Jason Barnes, a biologist for Trout Unlimited, a nationwide group of scientists that protect, restore and sustain cold water trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.

Bristol Bay is a global wild salmon stronghold in Southwest Alaska that has supported Native Alaskans for thousands of years. Currently, it supports a $1.5 billion commercial and sport fishery.

Pebble Mine is a proposal for the largest mine in North America that would be located at the Kvichak and Nushagak rivers in Bristol Bay and is a part-time advocacy issue for Barnes.

“My big fear is that they will make permitting easier and possible,” said Barnes. “The EPA was one of the big roadblocks to permitting Pebble Mine. If they weaken the EPA than all those roadblocks to putting a bad mine in a bad place will be taken down.”

Carlos Perez-Campbell, a University of Nevada, Reno, student and president of the Washoe County Young Democrats said he marched to garner attention to climate change effects, specifically air pollution already observed in Reno.

“Reno already has one of the highest air pollution rates in the country,” Campbell said. “We often see in the dry summer months high rates of asthma and other respiratory issues.”

A report by the American Lung Association in 2016 found Reno tied for No. 11 most polluted city in America for short-term particle pollution.


Proposed Trump EPA Cuts Could Affect Local Initiatives Battling Climate Change


Photo accredited to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA building as it stands on September 10, 2014.

By Rachel Spacek and Gabriel Selbig

Originally published in The Nevada Sagebrush on April 11, 2017

Last month, President Donald J. Trump proposed a 31 percent budget cut to the Environment Protection Agency, a move that even Republican lawmakers in Washington are expected to fight. Nevada is already seeing the effects of climate change according to University of Nevada, Reno researcher Maureen McCarthy, and the proposed budget cuts could have significant impacts in the state.

More than that, even the City of Reno could be seeing effects of these cuts sooner rather than later.

“Some of the more significant issues in the long run, if the EPA is gutted, specifically are the city’s plans to launch a better building program, which asks commercial building owners to voluntarily benchmark their energy efficiency,” said Lynne Barker, sustainability manager at the City of Reno.

Better Buildings is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy, proposed by President Barack Obama in 2011, that is designed to make homes, commercial buildings and industrial plants more energy efficient.

In a press release from the White House in 2011 they said, “The President’s Better Buildings Initiative will make commercial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient over the next decade by catalyzing private sector investment through a series of incentives to upgrade offices, stores, schools and other municipal buildings, universities, hospitals, and other commercial buildings.”

The Better Buildings initiative is used in over 100 cities in order to help cities and communities work with building owners to reduce energies in the commercial and building industry.

In addition to affecting the City of Reno’s plans to launch the Better Buildings initiative, the EPA cuts could also disproportionally affect the city’s low-income families, Barker said.

“Some impacts already identified in Reno are increased heat waves and air quality,” Barker said. “If the Clean Power Plan is cut, low-income families, seniors and other vulnerable populations will feel the effects first.”

McCarthy, a senior researcher in physics at UNR and the Desert Research Institute, told KNPR that Nevadans need to start worrying about the effects climate change will have in the state.

McCarthy said the major floods in Elko and the record-breaking amounts of snow in the Reno/Tahoe area are evidence of the local effects of climate change.

McCarthy said Nevadans should not expect the weather to change steadily, she believes the next few years will experience temperatures that are 20 degrees higher than normal with more record-breaking amounts of snowfall, rain and floods.

“That average is going to come from much more extremes – very low years followed by very high years. Unstable communities, whether they are here in the U.S. or abroad, they are a source of instability,” McCarthy told KNPR.

In Washington, Nevada Congressman Mark Amodei released a statement in which he discussed his commitment to a resolution expressing his commitment to “conservative environmental stewardship.”

“In order to legislate effectively, Washington must have a willingness to have frank and honest discussions on the issues that affect us all,” Amodei said in a statement. “I’m pleased to be joining the Climate Solutions Caucus with Congresswoman Bonamici and I look forward to joining the rest of my colleagues in examining fact-based policy and research.”

The Trump administration’s proposed cuts would shrink the EPA’s spending from $8.1 billion to $5.7 billion. The cuts would also eliminate a quarter of the agency’s jobs.

Along with Amodei, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the chairperson of the Interior and Environment Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee is skeptical of the cuts and reminded Trump last month that his budget request is only the first step in a long process of decision-making.

Schieve Announces Bid for Re-Election


Mayor Schieve takes questions from a class of Reynolds School of Journalism students. Photo accredited to Gabriel Selbig.

Originally published in The Nevada Sagebrush on April 5, 2017

Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve announced her run for a second term to a class of Reynolds School of Journalism students on Wednesday, April 4.

Closing out a 30 minute press conference with the students, Schieve hesitantly made the announcement when prompted by Professor Caesar Andrews.

“More than likely I will run for mayor again,” Schieve said.

Schieve then took a moment to assess the room and said, “I will be running again for mayor. I love my job.”

The announcement comes just one day after local casino executive, Brandon Siri, announced his own bid for Reno Mayor in the 2018 election. He is a fourth generation Reno resident, and the 2018 campaign for mayor will be his first run for political office.

“My campaign exists to see a fundamental shift in the city management of Reno,” Siri said in a statement. “This will be a historic election as Reno turns 150 years old, and will be pivotal in determining the future of Reno.”

Siri is running on a platform that includes creating more affordable housing and a focus on safe communities among others.

Schieve comes from a business background as well. She is one of four founders of Midtown in Reno, a thriving urban neighborhood with various shops and boutiques lining S. Virginia Street. She owns Plato’s Closet, Clothes Mentor and is set to open a third business in the neighborhood. Her business experience led to her first bid for Reno City Council in 2012.

Siri’s background is also steeped in business, but more specifically in the Downtown Reno gaming industry. He is an executive with Club Cal Neva and Siri’s casinos.

The Reno mayoral election is more than 18 months away, but already the city has two lifelong Nevadans vying for the seat.