Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) celebrated the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s passage of critical Nevada priorities she introduced including the Ruby Mountains Protection Act to prohibit oil and gas development within the Ruby Mountains Ranger District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, the Renew America’s Schools Act to create a competitive federal grant program to help our nation’s K-12 schools become more energy efficient and an amendment to Secure Rural Schools (SRS) legislation to add broadband and other internet accessibility technologies to the list of eligible items on which SRS dollars can be spent. In addition, the Committee passed the Small County PILT Parity Act, co-led by Cortez Masto, to increase PILT payments to counties with populations under 5,000.
“I’m proud my critical pieces of legislation to protect Nevada’s iconic Ruby Mountains, increase sustainability and investments in technology in our schools and provide important funding to our rural counties passed in committee today. Every day, I’m fighting on behalf of Nevadans to ensure that we’re protecting our pristine public lands and investing in our communities. Thanks to the efforts of stakeholders throughout Nevada, we’ve been able to push through these important pieces of legislation. I’ll continue working with my colleagues to ensure these bills receive a full Senate vote as soon as possible.”
The Ruby Mountains Protection Act would withdraw the land comprising the Ruby Mountain Ranger District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest from any eligibility for oil and gas leasing under the Mineral Leasing Act. The measure protects all existing multiple uses in the area including recreation, grazing and mining, where appropriate. This legislation also covers any future land or interest in land acquired by the United States for inclusion in the Ruby Mountains Ranger District from future oil and gas leasing. The Ruby Mountains Protection Act would not affect any recreational use of these pristine lands, including for hunting, hiking and fishing.
The Renew America’s Schools Act creates a federal grant program through the Department of Energy that would provide $100 million yearly for five years to provide funding to K-12 schools to make eligible energy efficiency improvements. Those eligible energy efficiency improvements include facility improvements for air quality, daylighting, ventilation, and lighting upgrades, the installation of renewable energy technologies to power school systems, the purchase of zero-emissions vehicles and the installation of necessary infrastructure for those vehicles.
Senator Cortez Masto authored an amendment to the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) Extension Act that adds broadband and other internet accessibility technologies to the list of eligible items on which SRS dollars can be spent. This amendment is another innovative way to enable federal investment in closing the digital disconnect for rural students.
The Small County PILT Parity Act, which Senator Cortez Masto co-led, modifies the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program so that counties with populations under 5,000 would receive a higher annual limitation ceiling, which would likely increase PILT payments to these counties. This formula adjustment will help lower-population counties address rising infrastructure and emergency services costs.