July 14, 2021

Cortez Masto Passes Legislation out of Committee to Combat Drought and Wildfire, Bring Investments to Nevada

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) secured passage of several Nevada priorities through the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, including her legislation to address drought, reduce wildfires in Nevada, and create jobs across the state by investing in renewable energy projects. These provisions have cleared a key committee hurdle and will be included in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s infrastructure package, which will now go before the full Senate as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Package.

“Any legislation to address our infrastructure must help us confront the urgent crises facing Nevadans, from drought and water issues to wildfires. I have worked to ensure that this bipartisan infrastructure legislation includes vital investments to help us create jobs and prepare our state for the future,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “I’m pleased to announce that my legislation to combat drought and protect billions of gallons of water for Nevada is included in this legislation, as well as my bills to help create jobs in our critical mineral industry and in renewable energy. This new package represents an important step in my efforts to deliver for Nevada communities through upcoming infrastructure investments, and I will continue to make sure these bills prioritize the needs of Nevada families and the future of our state.”   

The Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s Infrastructure Package includes Senator Cortez Masto’s legislation addressing the following Nevada priorities:

  • Drought Mitigation: Cortez Masto’s legislation to combat drought and protect Nevada’s water supply, including Lake Mead, is included. The bill includes $450 million for a competitive grant program for large-scale water recycling projects across the Western U.S. This new program could help fund a regional water recycling project that could produce enough water to serve more than 500,000 households in Southern California and Nevada. The Committee’s legislation also includes $300 million to continue to implement the Colorado River Basin Drought Contingency Plan, which Cortez Masto helped pass into law in 2019.
  • Investments in our Domestic Critical Mineral Supply Chain: The bipartisan legislation includes Cortez Masto’s bill to promote Nevada’s mining industry and set up a sustainable domestic critical mineral supply chain, which does not currently exist in the United States. Right now, critical minerals like lithium and cobalt mined in Nevada are largely shipped overseas for processing and manufacturing purposes, but this measure will help Nevada expand its industry and create more jobs in the processing and recycling sectors.
  • Wildfire Management and Mitigation Funding: Cortez Masto authored an amendment securing $10 million for wildfire detection equipment - including for projects like Lake Tahoe’s successful ALERTWildfire camera network - and $3.4 billion dollars for wildfire risk reduction activities.

As part of Senator Cortez Masto’s Innovation State Initiative, she has consistently called for investments that will provide good paying jobs, stimulate Nevada’s economy, and improve quality of life for Nevadans. This new infrastructure package will now also include Cortez Masto’s Renew America’s Schools  and Connected Rural Schools Acts, which would help upgrade our schools, make them more energy efficient, and help close the digital divide for rural students. The package also includes over $6 billion in funding Cortez Masto advocated for to promote battery manufacturing and recycling projects across the U.S. In addition, Cortez Masto secured passage of her provision to create new jobs by allowing former hard rock mining sites to be used for innovative solar and other renewable energy projects.