Urban sprawl will disproportionately affect Black and brown communities of color
Las Vegas, NV–– Today Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto’s Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act is being heard in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. This piece of legislation, referred to as the Clark County lands bill, would redefine the use of the Las Vegas Valley in ways that incentivise massive urban sprawl, returns stolen lands to the Southern Paiutes, and the rearranging of conservation areas.
Jose Silva, Environmental Justice Organizer with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada released the following statement on behalf of PLAN:
“Nevada is the driest, and fastest warming state in the nation. Unchecked urban sprawl included in this legislation will only worsen the crisis our state is facing, which is extremely irresponsible considering our sole source of freshwater, Lake Mead, is reaching record low levels in its decades long decrease. We believe that in order for all people to thrive, they must have access to clean water and fresh air, that means supporting green infrastructure and dismantling environmental racism.
“On top of the destruction to the environment, the adverse effects of this bill will be disproportionately felt by low-income communities of color in forms of health, climate, and cost of living. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us exactly how our communities of color are more vulnerable to chronic and fatal health conditions due barriers to healthcare and health insurance. Years of institutional racism and segregation in Clark County have created aging communities sitting on heat islands that most likely will not see the benefits of the renewable energy economy, or more affordable housing this legislation appears to be striving for. These aging neighborhoods lack green spaces and have massive interstates cutting across family homes, limiting access to clean air and furthering air pollution, which is causing these populations to suffer from higher rates of upper respiratory issues. Prioritizing commercial and residential land development risks putting the profits of special interest groups and developers ahead of the livelihoods of thousands in the central Las Vegas Valley.
“PLAN supports the efforts to return land to the Moapa Band of Paiutes and the safeguards placed on wildlife and recreational areas. However, investments need to be made to combat the issues of sustainability and make sure that our communities have a green path that is within reach regardless of income level beyond the inclusion of affordable housing.
“We are calling on Senator Cortez Masto to include strong guarantees that communities like West Las Vegas and East Las Vegas will not be left behind or drained of resources in favor of another new Clark County suburb.”