Commerce Matters: With clean energy, what’s the cost of inaction? (Voices)

Ann Silver is CEO of the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce.

Ann Silver is CEO of the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce.

When I first moved to Reno from New York City, one of my favorite things to do was to look up, replacing the view of tall buildings with the sky — that beautiful Nevada blue in the day and the stars that visibly sparkle in the dark night.

It was a regular topic of conversation with my family back east. Sadly, our Northern Nevada skies were affected by a veil of smoke for several weeks, with off-the-chart, unhealthy air warnings that impacted all facets of our daily lives.

Recently, the 
Chamber of Commerce hosted Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto who discussed the work she is doing with her Senate colleagues to ensure we transition to more clean energy, electric vehicles and modernize our infrastructure.

Many of our 
members and key companies participated in that dialogue and discussed the thousands of jobs that will come from harnessing Nevada’s natural resources.

But the meeting was all-too eerie when we learned the senator’s invited guest, Sen. Joe Manchin, could not attend because his flight was unable to land in Reno due to overwhelming smoke from nearby fires.

Senator Cortez Masto shouldered on with all of us keenly aware of the urgency of our conversation regarding clean energy legislation, a game-changer for a state like Nevada with our abundance of geothermal, solar and lithium assets.

While many naysayers complain that the cost of the President’s proposed bipartisan infrastructure bill is too much or we should approach more cautiously, we should contemplate the cost of inaction.

If you spent a weekend in the greater Reno-Tahoe area this August, you’d have seen the near empty streets, outdoor cafés and venues struggling to survive — all industries that depend on summer tourism for vital revenue.

The cost of congressional inaction means that instead of creating jobs in a new, clean energy economy, thousands of jobs will be lost. The cost of inaction is raging fires that have burned more acreage than the entire footprint of New York City, and instead of hosting conventions, our convention center hosted Caldor Fire evacuees.

Nevada has shown the country that you can create good, bipartisan, common-sense laws to help address climate change. Washington, D.C., would be wise to look no further that the Silver State for how to work together to achieve meaningful results.

After this summer, with record heat, floods, fires and droughts that have beleaguered our country, let’s renew our commitment to protecting the beauty right in our backyard.

“Commerce Matters” is a monthly Voices column in the NNBW authored by Ann Silver, CEO of the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce. Reach her for comment at


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