Podcast

2° Out West Podcast

las vegas

Solving Air Pollution in Southern Nevada

Let’s travel to Southern Nevada to meet WRA’s newest government affairs manager, Jermareon Williams. Jermareon is a proud native of Las Vegas who is fighting to reduce pollution in his home city.

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Jermareon Williams speaking at a community event.

Jermareon is a second-generation Las Vegas resident, who is raising his daughter in the city he loves, while also working closely with communities there to ensure a bright, pollution-free future for all.

Through his work as a staffer at the U.S. senate, as well as his position as the Public Lands and Clean Energy liaison for U.S Senator Harry Reid, Jermareon worked to protect public lands in Nevada. He’s recently joined the team at WRA to continue to help Nevada make healthy choices and transition to clean technology.

In this episode, we dive into Jermareon’s passion for community, what makes Las Vegas special, how we can reduce air pollution, and even a bit about his love of video games and filmmaking.

Jermareon Williams

Jermareon’s personal journey with asthma has a huge impact on his fight for clean air for all.

I had asthma as well. I never really thought much about it. I didn't know why that was the case. I didn't know why so many of us had asthma. Right? And then I get to this world and I find out it has a lot to do with the pollution in these communities. The fact that you have these freeways and these highways right next to lower-income communities, it's causing these kids to grow up with asthma and develop these respiratory issues. Being here and advocating for this and going to the legislation to advocate for these bills that could help clean our air, it feels like I'm fighting for those kids I grew up with and it feels like I'm fighting for myself as well. So that's the important thing about being here and that's why I love it here so much.``
vegas

For years, Las Vegas has been battling poor air quality, ranked 13th in the United States for highest air pollution in 2019. Through Jermareon’s work in the Nevada State Legislative Session, WRA is hoping for a favorable outcome on the Medium and Heavy Duty Vehicle bill.

Pollution exposure across the United States continues to impact lower-income communities and communities of color at much higher rates. For these communities, the impact of electrification of MHVs can be the difference between entire generations suffering from serious negative health effects or generations of healthy and happy lives unburdened by pollutants.

The incentive program will be structured to prioritize deploying electric trucks for groups that need them most: small businesses, public transit agencies, and school districts. These entities will greatly benefit from the operational cost savings of electric trucks and buses, but higher upfront purchasing costs are a barrier. This incentive program will lower the barrier to electrification for Nevada’s small businesses and bus operators and help them realize the economic and public health benefits that electric trucks and buses offer.

Listen to our newest podcast episode to learn more and check out the Further Reading section for more information about MHVs, clean air policies, and pollution disparities.

Want to learn more? You can sign up for a special online event with the Nevada Conservation League featuring Jermareon. This will be an accessible look into the Nevada Legislative session, and it’s free to attend.

Jermareon Williams

Join us for this deep dive into pollution, community, and Las Vegas. Please consider leaving a review after the episode wherever you listen so others can find our podcast too. 

what i like about the west

We would love for you to contribute to the new “What I Like About the West” Segment. 

Create a 1-minute voice memo telling us what you like about the west and email it to us at Jessi.Janusee@westernresourceadvocates.org. We would love to feature you on our next podcast episode! Also, please take a minute to watch this 1950’s video of Tex Williams performing the song, “That’s What I Like About the West.” His song was the inspiration for this segment. 

That's What I Like About The West

Episode Guest

Jermareon Williams is the government affairs manager for Nevada at Western Resource Advocates. He’s also a filmmaker, an avid video gamer, a father and a proud Las Vegas community leader.

 

Full Transcript 

 

Introduction

Let’s travel down to the low desert of Southern Nevada. Let’s go past the creepy clown motel in Tonopah, and all of the wild donkeys left over from the mining days in Goldfield. We’ll come all the way down to land right in Las Vegas. I know, it’s not the glittery, glamorous casino strip that you’re thinking of.

In this episode, we’re talking about real people and real communities in Las Vegas who need our help and our support to ensure that they have clean air with no pollution. We’ll be talking with WRAs newest government affairs manager in Nevada. Jermareon Williams and the work that he’s doing to protect the communities that he grew up in and why it means so much to him.

Welcome to 2 Degrees Out West, a podcast where we celebrate the Western United States, where we talk about the changes and the impact of climate change on the West, and what we can all do to help and make a difference today. I’m your host, Jessi Janusee. I’m the new multimedia storyteller here at Western Resource Advocates, and I’m so excited to share this episode with you and introduce you to Jermareon because he’s amazing.

“I feel like I’m fighting for, fighting for my kid. I feel like I’m fighting for like, my communities that I grew up in. I feel like I’m fighting for those kids that I grew up with.”

So get ready and thanks for being here.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Today on the podcast, we have Jermareon Williams, who is the government affairs manager for Nevada, with WRA. Welcome to the podcast.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Thank you so much. It’s great to be here.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

I have so many questions. I know kind of nothing about legislative sessions and how the inner workings of the Nevada government are and I think that some of our podcast listeners probably also don’t know too much about it. So it’s gonna be a lot of like, what is this? How does this work?

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Hey, I get it. And I’ve only spent almost 10 years in this thing. So I’m hoping to educate everyone and let them know what the legislative session is gonna be about and, let you know what WRA’s priorities are moving forward.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Cool. 10 years is a long time.

I mean, that’s, that’s not nothing. So Yeah.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Almost 10 years. So I spent almost 10 years in the federal government. So I worked for the Senate and then I worked for the House of Representatives for a while and then back to the Senate. So I spent most of that in the federal government, but state government is a different animal. I’m ready to take on this challenge and work the best way we can to move things forward.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Federal government, and the Senate. That’s … that’s really cool.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Thank you. Yeah, I mean, it’s something that, I just got into right after college. It’s just one of those things where I didn’t plan on it, but it happened and I’m happy it happened and I learned a lot. I was able to gain a lot from it, get a lot of experience by doing it. And, you know, it’s just one of those things where I learned so much from it that I think I can apply it to pretty much any area of my life. So, it’s cool.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Rad. What are some things from that time that you do use every day?

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

How to negotiate, right?

So, I understand that not everything’s gonna be what we want it to be, right? Like, just because I want something to happen really bad and, I get super passionate about things I’m into so I have to understand that I have to work with a group of people to get these things done. It’s not going to just be because I want this to happen, it’s going to happen, or because I feel passionate about this issue, it’s going to happen.

I understand that there’s compromise to be made, and I understand that there’s also education, like not everybody knows, why I’m so into, or why I’m so interested in the things I’m interested in. So if I can educate them and, show them my viewpoint, maybe their opinions can change. Or loosen a little bit where you know, we can have more of a compromise where maybe it can go my side where they can see things my way.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yeah. I feel that a lot too. I’m really passionate and I think that sometimes I kind of bulldoze people. Cause I’m just like, this is what needs to happen! This is what we have to do! And they’re like, I don’t even know why you’re freaking out right now.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Well, because it seems so important at the time, you know, like WRA we care about climate change.

And it’s so important because it’s right here and we know that we have to have solutions right now. And you know, I can understand cause sometimes you get so frustrated if someone doesn’t see it that way. What my experience taught me is there’s a way to show, you know, different people or different organizations your way of things.

And it’s a good way of doing it. I, you know, I’m not gonna lie, I just get, I just get too passionate sometimes, but I’ve learned to calm down and show the facts and show what, you know, show my perspective and tell my story. That’s one of the things that we all have.

And that’s something that I’m learning is important because when you can show someone your story and you can show someone your perspective, sometimes opinions change.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yeah, that’s what this podcast’s all about. So thank you!

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Of course.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

I want to get a little bit into your background, just being in Nevada and why you’re so passionate about Nevada. When I was talking to people at WRA about who to interview, everybody was like, oh, you need to get this story. You need to hear this southern Nevada story.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

I appreciate that.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

And also there’s like, you know, there’s a little Northern Nevada/Southern Nevada rivalry, but..

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

There is.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Tell me reasons why I shouldn’t hate Las Vegas.

[laughter]

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Well, because Las Vegas is an amazing city. So Las Vegas, I’ll tell you this, Las Vegas, you know, they have national recognition, but it’s such a small town. It’s such a small town and it has a ton of different communities. It’s just like any other city outside of the strip.

Right. Because that’s all everyone knows. I remember when I went to a conference in high school, I was telling everyone I was from Las Vegas and they thought everyone lived on the strip. And I’m like, no. There are schools and communities outside of the strip, and it’s like any other city. And everyone knows each other.

Like, you know who to call for certain things. Elected officials are pretty accessible. So if you have an issue, you can always talk to them. It’s, a small, close-knit community and that’s what I love about Las Vegas.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Nice. That sounds like Reno. That’s how it is here too. Yeah. Yeah. I can email the mayor and she responds to my email, which is really cool. It’s crazy.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

I think, and you know, this is what they could say in any, political sphere, and I’m not trying to get political right now. We’re more similar than we are different.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yeah, your art scene is powerful and amazing. It’s very legit.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

We’re growing, we’re growing. We have an art district downtown. And it’s a growing community and our tech scene is starting to build up. And I know Reno’s tech scene is huge out there. We’re definitely coming along. I know that we want to be a huge city. We want to be like L.A. but at its core, Las Vegas is a small city and it’s a close community.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Have you lived your whole life in Las Vegas?

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

I have, born and raised. I’m probably the most Las Vegas person you will ever meet. I’m second-generation Las Vegas. My mom was born here before I was, and my dad was born here as well. I went to all my school schooling here, elementary school, middle school, high school.

I went to college in Las Vegas. And then, worked in Las Vegas, and worked for the Senate, but I worked in a state office which meant I got to stay in Las Vegas the whole time. There was only one time I tried to move away, I was gonna go away to New York. And then I came right back to Las Vegas.

So, I’ve literally been in Las Vegas my whole life. And, when, when I was a kid, I wanted to move away. I wanted to go to L.A. I wanted to do film in L.A., but as I got older, I just learned to appreciate Las Vegas for what it was, and, I grew to just really fall in love with this city.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Nice. That’s awesome. I have some friends that are born and raised in Reno, second, third generation Reno, and they’re some of my favorite people. They’re such good advocates for the city. They know everything. They know everybody. Anytime we go out anywhere, you know, they know everybody in the whole restaurant or whatever.

It’s so fun though. You feel like you’re with a little mini-celebrity.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Yeah. . Well see that’s what my partner always tells me, like when we go to the store or anything, I’ll know probably like someone at every store we go to, and it’s just because I’ve been here for so long, I’ve really been in the community.

I’ve really been out here going to different organizations or speaking to people about different issues that they care about. It’s just, it’s just, I dunno, there’s nothing like Las Vegas. And I know we have a stigma about, like, I keep saying the strip, but it’s nothing like the community that you feel here.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

I love that. I have to come down and hang out. I’ve only been there for like three or four days, so not a very long time, you know, not long enough to really experience it.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

You gotta come to Las Vegas and look, we’re gonna, we’re gonna get off the trip. We’re gonna go to Summerland. We’re gonna go to Henderson, we’re gonna go to Centennial Hills. Like it’s just so many different communities here. If you want to, like, uh, if you’re an outdoors person, you can go to Red Rock Canyon, you can go to Mount Charleston. Like right now it’s snowing on the mountains. I can go snowboarding if I wanted to, right?

But then if I go back to the lower parts, you, you wouldn’t even be able to tell that it’s snowing at a point in Las Vegas. Like it’s that kind of city.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yeah. That’s so rad. I love that. Yeah. I’ve seen the photos of the Valley of the Fire. Is that what it’s called?

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Mm-hmm. Yeah.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

It looks so beautiful. I need to get over there. Great Basin National Forest too is like kind of in the midpoint. Yeah. I need to travel more.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Great basin. That’s something that was designated as a national monument when I was with Senator Reid’s office. And I got to work with a lot of the public lands groups on designating that and just hearing their experience and hearing the importance of what this land was to them.

That’s kind of how I got my passion for public lands and just the environment is working for Senator Reid’s office. I never expected to be in this, in this field.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

I noticed your degrees are in criminal justice and film so different from what you’re doing right now. What was the career path for you to get to first get to like working as a staffer in the Senate, but then also all the way to now working in the environmental field? How did you wind up there?

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Yeah, so it’s interesting because when I was in college, I wanted to just be in film. I got a criminal justice degree, but I wanted to be in film. But for some reason, I got an interest in working for the government. I don’t know what that was.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

That is bizarre.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Yeah, it’s. It’s so interesting, maybe I was watching too many movies or too many television shows, but I wanted to really work for the government.

So, I saw an opportunity to intern for Senator Reid’s office. So I just applied online. I just applied like saying “Hey, maybe I can intern. I know. My background is nothing like this. I’m not a political science major, but I just wanna see what happens.” So I applied and I end up getting the internship.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

And now a quick shout out to our sponsor. This episode is brought to you in part by our generous sponsors. We’d like to take a second to give an extra special thank you to our premier sponsor, Vision Ridge Partners, as well as our signature sponsors, BOS Developments, Conservation Colorado, Denver Water, First Bank, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, and Torch Clean.

WRA would also like to recognize our supporting sponsors, Great Outdoors Colorado, Javelina, and Meridian Public Affairs. Thanks so much for all of your support guys. Now let’s get back to our interview with Jermareon and talk more about Las Vegas and clean air.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

So you just went on the computer and filled out an application to become an intern and then that’s it. Your whole life changed, seriously?

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Yeah, I didn’t really even think I was gonna get the internship because my background was just so different. Like, I mean, I’m a film major and you know, I had the criminal justice degree, but I was a film major and that was the whole thing I wanted to do.

When I started the internship, I just wanted to do my best. I did two days a week and we were there for eight hours a day. And then when I graduated they had a position open right when I graduated. So, I was able to interview for the position and I ended up getting a position at Harry Reid’s office and I couldn’t pass that up.

When I actually started as a staffer, my, I call him my mentor because he’s really my mentor in this space, his name is Vinny Spotleson and was leaving the office right when I was getting in and he did public lands and he did clean energy. He trained me in this role, he introduced me to all the groups and he told me all the issues, and I learned from Vinny all the key issues in this public lands world. I actually met the groups and I loved the groups so much. So when Senator Reed retired and I stopped working with them I missed it. I just missed it. And I always wanted to come back to this world and connect with these groups, and fight for clean energy and climate change. I’ve always wanted to come back to it. So WRA they gave me an opportunity to come back to this world and, and reconnect with everyone and feel like I’m doing something. That’s the cool thing about WRA, I feel like I’m doing something important every day. And that sounds, that sounds so corny. I don’t like saying it, but it really is the truth. I feel like I’m fighting for my kid. I feel like I’m fighting for like, my communities that I grew up in.  I feel like I’m fighting for those kids that I grew up with because we all had asthma. Like, not, not all, but you know, a lot of us had asthma growing up.

I had asthma as well. I never really thought much about it. I didn’t know why that was the case. I didn’t know why so many of us had asthma. Right? And then I get to this world and I find out it has a lot to do with the pollution in these communities. The fact that you have these freeways and these highways right next to lower-income communities, it’s causing these kids to grow up with asthma and develop these respiratory issues.

Being here and advocating for this and going to the legislation to advocate for these bills that could help clean our air, it feels like I’m fighting for those kids I grew up with and it feels like I’m fighting for myself as well. So that’s the important thing about being here and that’s why I love it here so much.

And that’s why I’m just so proud to be back in this, it really means a lot to me.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yeah. I feel like WRA is really lucky to have you because you’re super knowledgeable and passionate and it’s awesome.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Well, so you see that passion. So now you see if I’m speaking to someone and I’m trying to convince them it’s so hard for me to turn that side off because I have a personal connection to this. And that’s something that I learned how to turn it off a little bit. But it’s still hard, I’m still learning and I’m hoping that if I get too passionate like that, I’m hoping that like we can still make good arguments and tell them why this stuff is important.

I feel like this stuff is just, iso important and it saves lives, right? This stuff, what we’re doing, it’s saving lives. And I just hope that our legislators see that. I hope that everyone in our state sees this because it’s affecting our communities.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yeah, absolutely. And then we also have all the wildfire smoke, which is a whole other level of pollution that is so difficult. My son actually just got diagnosed with asthma a couple of weeks ago, and he has to use a nebulizer. It’s really tough. It’s tough to have to put a nebulizer on a three-year-old and wonder, “is this genetic, or is this, because the first three years of your life, every summer, it’s terrible air quality.”. There’s all this smoke pouring into Reno every summer. So yeah.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

I’m so sorry to hear that. I know how tough that is. I’m really sad hearing that just because I know what my mom went through. I know it’s a challenge. And so we’re fighting for your son.

We’re fighting for your son. And that’s why this is important.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Not to bring it down.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

No, no, you’re good. . No, it be, you know what, because I’m always optimistic that things are going to change. And that’s why I’m in this role is because I feel like things can change. It’s not too late. We’re gonna still fight and we’re gonna make sure that we advocate for all the issues that can help better our society and help better our air quality.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yeah. I often have to remind myself and look back and be like, okay, look at all the things that have changed.

You know, we used to not even think that climate change was real, and now we’re in agreement at least that this is happening,  and we have to do something positive to change it. So baby steps, I guess.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Yeah. That’s the toughest part for me, the baby steps. But you’re right. If we look at it about how much has changed it can power us to keep moving forward.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yes. Can you tell us a little bit more about what it means to be a government affairs manager at WRA?

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Yeah. Um, so we have a great team here. The leader of our team is Maria, and Maria is great. She’s so great and she’s so patient with me, and I have great colleagues on our government affairs team, Nick, Jessica Murphy. What we’re doing is we’re advocating for legislation that’s going to change our states in the Western region. We’re advocating for legislation that’s going to improve our air quality, improve our water quality, and help electrify vehicles. One of the things that I’m excited about is there’s a bill that’s going to be in the 2023 Nevada Session where we’re going to try to electrify medium and heavy-duty vehicles and we’re going to provide incentives for anyone or any company that’s looking to electrify their fleet. And the reason why that’s important is because a lot of the pollution comes from these huge, medium and heavy-duty vehicles.

They’re creating a ton of pollution so if we can electrify that fleet and we can electrify these vehicles, we’re going to cut pollution down to a point where it’s going to make our community safer. And, you know, as I said earlier, a lot of low-income areas they’re by freeways and so if we can electrify those vehicles that are passing on those freeway and highways, it’s only going to clean up that air quality in those communities.

So that’s something I’m super, super, super excited for.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Okay, so the legislative session in Nevada is happening right now? And the state legislators will be voting on this bill, and you’re one of the advocates fighting to make sure that they vote positively.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Yes, yes. And I’m advocating for this bill just because it’s so important that we work to cut down pollution and if we can start here at the medium and heavy-duty vehicles, if we can start here and start electrifying this fleet, it can only help us.

And then maybe we can have momentum for electrifying more of our fleet in the future. So this is something that I think is hugely important for Nevada and I’m hoping that we can get a good outcome on it.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yeah, absolutely. We are definitely in a trucking hub here in Reno because everyone goes over the Donner Pass and there’s so many, I mean, I pass so many trucks all the time, every day on the 80, it’s, you know, it cuts across the country. So it comes right here. So with that bill, it’s for semi and tractor-trailers, right, but it will also include all the vans that are delivering your packages to your house every day?

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Yeah. Yeah. It includes them as well. And it includes moving vehicles and mail cars.

Oh, cool. It includes those vehicles as well. And we’re working to electrify it. One of the exciting things is Clark County School District actually got approved for electrifying their school buses and that’s another huge vehicle that are now going to be electric.

So we’re cutting down the pollution for that and we’re hoping to see more of that in Nevada, but, that is exciting to see it right now.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yeah. I noticed Washoe County wasn’t included, which is where Reno and Sparks are, and I was like, “why, why not us? Why didn’t we figure that out?” I guess I gotta email the Mayor.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Yeah, see, and you have that connection because Nevada is, a state full of tight-knit communities.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yes, it is. Okay. So hopefully if this passes, then maybe next time you go to get a U-Haul or something when you’re moving, there’ll be electric things to choose from. Right? Which is really cool.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Yeah, maybe, yeah, hopefully. And that would be cool. As somebody who moved twice in 2020, that would’ve been just so much better because it would also save the money for the gas that I would’ve had to use for those U-Hauls. So I’m hoping to see this. I’m hoping to see more of these vehicles become electric vehicles.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Absolutely. That’d be great. Are there any other big bills coming up for this session that you’re excited about?

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

That’s the biggest one that I’m really looking forward to. The good thing about Nevada, and I’m not, I’m not saying this for you, Jessi, but just for anyone listening, most states, they start their legislative session in January, right?

In Nevada, we get a bit to just kind of get into the new year before we have to start our legislative session. So our legislature session this year is going to start on February 6th. So we’re gonna see more of the bills that are coming in and we’re going to get to see what bills we are supporting and which bills we are against. But we’re just kind of waiting to see more of the bills as they roll in.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

I want to also talk about your film stuff because that’s just so interesting. Are you still doing film? It seems like it’s something that was your first love and that you really feel strongly about and I want to see your work too. Is there a place I can see your films?

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Oh, well thank you so much. You’re right. Film is my first love and my first passion. So when I was at UNLV’s film school, I was a writer, so I was a screenwriter. A lot of my work was just write in different screenplays.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Wow.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

I got to produce a couple of films. But now since I graduated I entered so many turns. So  I got into this world of politics, but  I actually started going back into kind of making films and just kind of seeing my work. It’s a little different. So I do YouTube now, it’s insane to say, but, I have a YouTube channel that I’m gonna be working on building where I can film different things.

So right now I’m focused on gaming videos. I’m a huge gamer too. I’m a huge video gamer, so anyone who wants to play Call of Duty or Fall Guys, that’s my favorite game. I’m playing that.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Oh, we play Fall Guys all the time!

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Yeah. There we go. Yes. So I like to say I’m the Fall Guys champion. I got four crowns right now.

I’m trying to get more, but  I love Fall Guys. So that’s something I’m doing on a YouTube channel, but also I’m gonna be speaking more about television shows and movies and just analyzing it and breaking it down. So that’s something that’s, I do in lieu of just being into filming every day like I was around when I was at UNLV.

That just keeps me going. That’s something I’m super passionate about and I’m happy that there’s still platforms out there for creatives to get out their work. That’s so cool to me, I wish when I was younger, I wish YouTube was as big as it is now because I think it’s a great outlet for creatives. I really do.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yeah. It’s awesome that you could have your side projects and do your art still, you know, and feed that thing that you love and get it out there to people from your house.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Yeah, and you could be anywhere. Now, when I was like thinking about moving to L.A., it was because you could only really do it in L.A. The whole thing about now is you can do it anywhere. So if you’re creative and you want to get out some kind of content, whether it’s videos, whether you’re an artist, whether you create podcasts whatever art you’re doing, you can do it anywhere now. And that’s what, that’s the thing I love about just the different platforms that are available right now. I mean, to creatives, it’s the best.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Let’s take a quick break to talk about WRA. Western Resource Advocates have been around for 33 years fighting climate change in the Interior West. We have really dedicated staff and policy experts that work to protect the climate, land, air, and water of the West. To find out more about the work we’re doing and see how you can help, please visit our website, westernresourceadvocates.org.

Join WRA as a donor today and help us protect Western lands, fight for clean air, support, healthy rivers, and advance clean energy. Now let’s get back to our interview with Jermareon as we talk more about electrifying medium and heavy-duty vehicles and having a healthier cleaner West.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

I want to know more about you working at the Senate, what it was like to be a staffer, and then also what are some of the, like you were talking about the Great Basin, but what were some of the other wins that you did for public lands and clean energy that really got you excited about this work?

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Working for the Senate was, it was a whirlwind. You always have to be on top of your game. So what I did, and I’ll tell you a little bit about what I did there. So when I was with Senator Reed’s office, I was a regional representative. So I was a liaison for the public lands communities for the Native American community, for the African American community.

And what I did was, go into these communities, go to their meetings, have different meetings with community leaders and each of the different portfolio areas, and just speak about what’s going on. Like how can we help, what can we do at a federal level to help? And it was important because it just taught you to listen to just the different needs of each community.

The African American community, they had different needs, or different things that they wanted to see as opposed to the public lands community and then the Native American community. But you can also see the similarities and different issues that they cared about. That’s something I got to do there and I’m super proud of.

Then I also was a small business manager with Senator Jackie Rosen and Senator Jackie Rosen. She is a great, great person, and I always be honest about these things, and she’s a great person. With her office, I got a chance to work with small businesses in Nevada in, a really challenging time because 99% of the businesses in Nevada are small businesses.

And we were hit so hard by the pandemic, by the shutdowns. And a lot of businesses, they weren’t able to continue. A lot of them just needed resources. So what we did at Senator Jackie Rosen’s office is we helped find resources for these businesses and we were helping them.

And a lot of them, they really appreciated that. And before I got into the Senate, I didn’t know that Senate offices just helped with things like that. I just thought they were just strictly legislation. But I didn’t know they also helped find resources. They contact different federal agencies on your behalf to make sure you get, you know, not always a favorable result, but at least the communication is open.

So I just didn’t know that. And that’s something that I did in my past with the different Senate offices. It was challenging, but it was fun. It made it just feel like you were doing a good thing. And that always been my driving force. I just want to make sure I’m doing a good thing.

I feel blessed that led me to being here where I also feel like I’m doing a good thing and I’m actually able to work on issues that I care so deeply about. So that’s the cool part about being here.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yeah. That’s awesome. And I’m sure all those connections that you made are now connections you still have while you’re working with WRA.

So you could also use them, you know, going forward on these different policies, public land stuff or clean energy stuff, you have all those voices and you can check in with them. Like you were saying with sharing stories, it’s even more powerful if you have more stories to share, so, yeah.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Yeah. And we also, you know, we did park cleanups, so I would go to Red Rock Canyon and clean up the park. It felt it’s cause like, you know, I didn’t know about park cleanups. There’s so much I didn’t know about before I got into this role, but, It just feels like you’re connecting with the land and you’re being on the land and that’s just the part I like about this.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yeah. And the people, it seems like also. Absolutely. The people. So yeah, that’s great nexus, right? Like it’s, it’s, yeah.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Yeah. The people are amazing. Everyone cares about the same things, and they’re so kind to you.  I was new to the role. I didn’t know anything about public lands and they brought me in and they had time to just like, sit down and just tell me everything that’s happening and tell me the issues. And those are stories that I still take with me. Like even with WRA, I still know those conversations that I had and I still remember those stories. And I think the biggest thing that I keep harping on are stories are important.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Thanks, because that’s what I’ve been saying too. So way to back me up!

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

I’m backing you up on that.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yeah. But as a scriptwriter, and like I come from a creative writing, English degree, so it’s the same deal. We use the stories to connect with people and help find that resonance and that just sticks so much more and is more powerful than just facts. So I feel like, yeah, the two things together.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Right. Because you can tell people the facts, you can tell people the facts and you can hope they listen or you can connect the facts to a personal story. And I feel like it just makes more of an impact.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Well, that’s a good segue. Do you have a personal story about environmental stuff that would help connect people?

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Yeah. Yeah. So this is what I’ll leave on. I know I kind of touched on it previously, but I want to really… there are kids in our community who are struggling to breathe because of the pollution in our air. That’s horrible. And that should not have to happen. Every single person, every single person has a right to breathe clean air. It doesn’t matter about your race, it doesn’t matter about your income level, your class. That’s just a basic human right to breathe clean air. I’ll tell you this, so when I was a kid, and, you know, I grew up with asthma and I always had asthma. I can imagine as a parent now, I can imagine how scary it is to take your child to quick care or to the hospital because they can’t breathe. It shouldn’t happen. It shouldn’t happen with anyone. And my mom had to constantly take me to the hospital, to get a breathing treatment or to get a new inhaler or to do things like that. And no one should have to do that. Kids should be playing. They should be running. They should be a part of the community without having to always worry at night, you know, am I getting enough oxygen? So I just want to really say how important breathing is, how that’s a right that we have to protect. We have to protect that right.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Absolutely. Same story with my little one. It’s so rough. It’s so scary. To be in the hospital with your kid, you know, on oxygen and they’re trying to rip it out because they’re just afraid and they’re only two. It’s the worst. It’s so sad.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

I’m so sorry.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

So yeah, I really feel what your mom must have gone through that’s so, so rough and absolutely it doesn’t have to happen. And it’s cool that we’re out here, you know, doing the work to hopefully make it stop.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Yeah, no, it is. And um, first of all, I want to say, I am so sorry that’s happening. I’m so sorry because like, and I know we’re recording right now, but I just want to say I know how tough that is and I’m so sorry. And I’m hoping that. I’m just hoping that we can do things sooner rather than later because of that. Because hearing your story and then I think about what my mom had to go through is something that I, you know, I talk about, but hearing it from you and, and hearing like,  how scary it is because it’s already scary enough being a parent. I’m so sorry.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Thanks. Yeah. We did the nebulizer treatment for like three weeks and then I went to come back to the doctor and now she said his lungs are a lot better, but I’m definitely really worried about when the smokey season comes back, you know, like what’s going to happen. But, I mean, you know, it’ll be fine. We have the nebulizer and the inhaler, but it’s, you know, it’s just going to be a thing that we are going to deal with.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Like, how do you put a positive spin on that? Because it’s something that shouldn’t happen. But, I will say this, you know, just for your son, he’s going be able to do things it’s just going to be, it’s gonna be with the inhaler, like, always make sure you have your inhaler, but he’ll still be able to play and, you know, play with his friends. It’ll be okay, it’ll really will.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yeah. Oh, he is still running around like a crazy whirlwind all the time, so I didn’t even realize it was that bad. You know, he just has a cough all the time so I didn’t realize that it was tied to that. Luckily he’s never had a full asthma attack or anything. So it’s just this constant cough that he always just has with him. So it’s not as bad as it could be for sure. So that’s really good.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Yeah. Yeah. And I apologize. I don’t know if you saw me tearing up, but I’m a sensitive person. I’m a sensitive person, so hearing this stuff, like, I apologize for that. You know? I’m not trying to…

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Oh no, you’re good.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

I’m just a sensitive person.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

And you can really feel it because you know, you were that kid.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Yeah. And that’s, and that’s why we do this work though. That’s why we do this work.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Totally. Yeah. I’m very, like, sometimes I try not to think about it too hard. Especially because it gets so bad here in Reno. You know, they close schools all the time because of the air quality. Do they close the school in Vegas too?

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

No, but, I did hear about Reno, and how they were closing the schools because of the air quality. I did hear that.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yeah. It’s like a joke now that instead of snow days, we have smoke days. Yeah. I think school was closed for probably collectively like a week of last year because it’s just so smoky.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Wow. Really?

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yeah. Yeah. It’s pretty bad.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

I see. And, I know it’s like that in Utah as well. I know sometimes the pollution’s just so bad that they can’t even go outside.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yeah, it’s terrifying and then it’s just hot and you’re trapped inside with the kids and it’s literally brown outside, you know, like Silent Hill. Like terrifying.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Geez. Geez.  That’s scary.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yeah. But it’s still so beautiful and I really hope that it’ll get better, especially with different wildfire mitigation stuff and, you know, it seems like people are really doing a lot better. Two years ago, my friend and her whole family, her dogs, all of her animals, had to live at my house for two weeks because of wildfires. So that’s also, yeah, it’s pretty intense up here.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Oh, geez. No, that is intense. I always like to be optimistic, and that’s the reason why we fight. That’s really the reason why we fight to do this because of those situations. And if we can get some good results, like put in some type of legislation to stop this or to like limit this it will be good. We’ll be good.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yes, I believe in it. Nevada’s beautiful, it needs to be protected. All of the West, you know, we gotta do better.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

I couldn’t agree more.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yeah, because, I don’t want to have to move away because of air quality. My whole family’s on the East coast and they’re like, you should just move back. It’s so smoky over there. We’re worried about you. And I’m like, I’m not leaving. I love it. You know, I came here and I settled here for a reason.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

Right, right. And, I don’t want to move just because, like selfishly I’ve been here my whole life. So I want my daughter to grow up in Nevada. And I really love this place and I don’t want it to continue to get hotter and hotter because it’s already, especially in Las Vegas, it’s hot here and it can’t get too much hotter because eventually, you know, people will move because, yeah, it’s just, you know, you want your kids to go outside in the summertime and play, and if it’s 115 degrees, you can’t, you can’t go outside at all. So I’m hoping we can change this.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Yes, I believe in us.

 

Jermareon Williams – Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager NV

I believe in it. I believe in us as well.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Thanks again Jermareon for sharing your story with us and the work that you’re doing and your passion. Your passion is very felt even through the audio ether, and I’m just so happy that you’re here supporting WRA, doing this work and supporting your people because we absolutely need it. So thank you so much for that.

And yes, we will definitely have him on the podcast again for sure. What a fun guest.

I want to leave you guys with a little bit more information about medium and heavy-duty trucks and what exactly we’re talking about and why we’re talking about it so much. Although MHVs or medium heavy-duty trucks make up only 5% of all vehicles on the road nationally, they’re responsible for 30% of on-road greenhouse gas emissions and over 50% of all on-road dangerous fine particulate matter emissions. So the PM 2.5s or those dangerous fine particulate matter emissions create unhealthy air quality, which contributes to asthma and cardiovascular disease and other poor health outcomes. So not only do these trucks need to be electrified because it’s going to be huge for reaching our climate goals, but it’s also really going to help all of those kids, like Jermareon was saying, who live in these places that are really close to freeways and other traffic corridors. And this particular type of pollution is really disproportionately affecting communities of color, which impacts so many people, including black, indigenous, Latino, Latina, Asian, biracial, and multiracial communities.

And as Jermareon was saying in this episode, we all have the right to clean air. We all have the right to healthy air where we don’t have to have asthma and these negative effects from pollution. So that is what we are really advocating for right now, what we’re really trying to accomplish. These bills will help to offset the cost, and then we can have a zero-emission truck technology future.

Let’s create a future where kids don’t suffer from asthma because of pollution. If you want to learn more about clean energy and zero-emission trucks, all of the things that we’re working really hard on this legislative session, not only in Nevada but across our range, please visit our website at www.westernresourceadvocates.org.

We have a lot of really great information and resources, and for those of you who really want to nerd out, I will put a link in the show notes to information specifically about medium and heavy duty in Nevada, as well as some studies about pollution and asthma. You could read a lot more about these things that we’re doing and see how you could support and maybe even contact your local legislators, sharing your voice, getting out there, and showing the people that their constituents, the people that elect them, really care about these things. It does do a lot to push people in the right direction and to get more people on board for this kind of programming. So please help out. Please let your voice be heard and please share your opinions because we need that.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

Now it’s time for our little creative segment. It’s the space where you get to come and tell us what you like about the West. It’s called “What I like about the West”, and this week we have my predecessor, Brendan and he’s going to tell us what he likes about the West. And don’t forget, we want to hear from you. We want to hear your stories about what you like about the West. So just record something on your phone. It could be 40 seconds or a minute, and then just email it to us at outreach@westernresources.org. We would really love to include you and your story in our next 2 Degrees Out West episodes. Let’s hear from Brendan Witt and also Brendan, thanks so much for starting this podcast and handing it over to me.

 

Brendan Witt – Western Resource Advocates Western Lands Policy Fellow

What I love about the West is the connection that our communities share with the natural world around us. From the snow-covered high peaks in winter to red rock canyon deserts or rolling grassland ecosystems of the great plains. I love the sense of place that comes with our connection to the world and to the wildlife that we share this region with. And while there’s still work to be done to ensure that all Western communities have equal access to those experiences when it comes to our work to protect this region and its environment, I love how in almost any community around our region you can look out the window or slip out the back door and quickly be immersed in nature and reestablish that connection and remind ourselves what we’re working to protect for generations to come.

 

Jessi Janusee – Western Resource Advocates Multimedia Storyteller

2 Degrees Out West is a production from Western Resource Advocates. And as always, I’m your host, Jessi Janusee. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, be sure to follow us so you can be updated about new episodes as they come out. We have some really cool things coming up. And also please leave a review because we’d love to get feedback from you and hear what you enjoy.

And also hear your suggestions for new episodes. And today to end the podcast, I wanted to play a little song from my friend Dan Bindschedler. We actually went to college together and unfortunately, he passed away. He’s an amazing cellist and an incredible human, and I just wanted to share a little bit of his music with everybody as a sweet little tribute to him.

So this track is called your Seafoam Green Hatchback. In the show notes, I’ll include the link to Dan’s Spotify if you want to hear more cello from him. Thanks so much for being here and listening. Stay wild. Let’s keep this West beautiful and clean and healthy. See you next time.

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