Monday, October 26, 2015

Sandoval alone on sage grouse lawsuit, but Laxalt isn't

But the big story now is the chill between Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval and GOP Attorney General Adam Laxalt — and that amid last week's exceptionally public rift over Laxalt joining a lawsuit that challenges new federal land-use restrictions across Nevada, the state's four Republican members of Congress leapt to Laxalt's side, not Sandoval's. Sandoval, long the unquestioned leader of Nevada Republicans, hasn't been happy with Laxalt since shortly after the attorney general took office in January. In one of his first acts as the state's top law enforcement officer, Laxalt joined 25 other states in suing to block President Barack Obama's "executive amnesty" for undocumented immigrants. Sandoval didn't support the move, and he let Laxalt know as much, saying immigration policy was a federal matter. But land-use policy is another issue entirely. Unlike immigration, the governor has an important role in state land management decisions that affect the sage grouse. The habitat of the ground-dwelling bird covers much of Nevada and the West, and environmentalists and their allies in Washington have long seen the sage grouse as their best chance to seal off millions of acres from energy development, ranching and recreation.  Sandoval wanted a chance to continue talks with the Interior Department to work out land policies in the state's favor. "Let's sue if we don't get relief," he said. "But I have to be able to have a dialogue with federal decisionmakers. I have to engage them. Suing them will inhibit my ability to do that." He expected his authority and five years of work on the issue to be respected. But Laxalt felt the state couldn't wait to join the lawsuit. And Laxalt said that although his staff communicated with the governor's staff, a direct conversation or meeting with Sandoval "was never put together but ... it was requested on this issue many times." When Laxalt filed the amended complaint in federal court in Reno on Thursday, his office and Sandoval's office began sending dueling statements, with Sandoval saying Laxalt "is acting in his personal capacity and does not represent the State of Nevada, the Governor, or any state agencies," and that the governor is "disappointed that the Attorney General has again chosen to ignore a direct request from his client."  But Sandoval's implication that Laxalt acted alone simply isn't true. In fact, the person who appears alone is Sandoval himself. Not only did the leadership of nine Nevada counties (including populous Washoe) and two mining companies feel they would suffer irreparable harm without immediate legal action, but U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and Nevada Reps. Joe Heck, Cresent Hardy and Mark Amodei all applauded Laxalt's move as absolutely necessary...more

No comments: