Friday, May 27, 2011

Hold On! We Still Have to Save Lake Tahoe!

So now, all of a sudden, we may have a workable budget deal. OK, so there's progress.

However, there's still another threat lurking. Again, Lake Tahoe is in danger. There's an intense last-minute push to pass SB 271.

[...T]he amended Senate Bill 271 calls for changes in how the agency operates, threatening withdrawal only if those changes don't happen.

The biggest change is the elimination of the super majority voting rule required for the approval of projects and the certifying of environmental impact statements. Many have complained California members use that rule to block practically every development.

In addition, anyone suing to challenge any part of the basinwide regional plan would have the burden of showing that the plan violates the compact.

[State Senator John] Lee [DINO-Corporate Fat Cats] said the plan also would be changed to require the governing board to consider economic conditions in the Tahoe Basin so that its decisions do not negatively impact the economy.

[Carson City Supervisor Shelly] Aldean said that if California and the U.S. Congress reject these and other changes to the compact in the bill, Nevada could withdraw from the bistate compact effective in 2015.

“The provision also gives the agency a mandate to make sure significant progress has been made by Oct. 1, 2013,” Aldean said. “The states have to work together harmoniously.”

So if passed, SB 271 would allow for Nevada to threaten California and the feds with withdrawal from Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), the bi-state regulatory body in charge of preserving Tahoe's natural beauty, if they don't agree to the weakening of TRPA and allowance of more real estate development. It looks like the big developers are ready to go all in to force more McMansions and big box developments on this threatened area.

The Nevada Spectator sheds more light on what SB 271 may cause to one of Nevada's last natural jewels standing.

The bill would also make it more difficult to sue polluters, and would also make the perceived economic impacts of shooting down development a primary consideration when deciding on proposed development. If these and other “reforms” are not met, Nevada will form its own regulatory body, the Nevada Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. What an environmental horror show. Las Vegas Democrat John Lee is sponsor of the bill, and I understand Mr. Lee owns a home on the lake. I wrote him to verify, but he has yet to respond, though I’ve heard from folks who attended a recent party there that he does indeed keep a place on Tahoe. I am flabbergasted he is putting this bill forward with such an obvious conflict. Am I to believe we are going to open the floodgates to Tahoe development Nevada style so Senator Lee can get his dock approved faster?

Lee complains California and TRPA are “obstructionist,” but the entire basin is already way over developed with huge casinos, ski resorts and all they entail. We do not need to loosen environmental regulation on Lake Tahoe but tighten it. This bill would do nothing but grease the skids for more crass and environmentally heedless development.

As Rochelle Nason, of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, explained to Nevada Spectator, it's not as if TRPA is blocking all development at Tahoe. In fact, they just approved another massive ski resort on Tahoe's West Shore! And they've yet to put together a comprehensive regional plan to balance the Tahoe region's economic needs with preserving the environmental wonders of the area and the integrity of the unique communities there.

So instead of ensuring that all in the community, as well as those of us in Nevada and California that enjoy visiting Tahoe and also have a stake in this, John Lee and his big developer buddies would rather pass SB 271 behind our backs and weaken the very protections Lake Tahoe urgently needs to prevent further air and water pollution. Remember that Lake Tahoe's clarity greatly depends on the health and well-being of surrounding forests, streams, meadows, and wetlands. Ironically enough, by allowing for further development into those forests as well as more commercialization of the lake, we risk losing the very quality of Tahoe that forms the beating heart of the region's economy. So in this short-sighted push to allow for more real estate development and urbanization of Lake Tahoe, we risk losing the signature natural beauty that drives tourism to the region!

So in these last few days of the 76th Session of The Nevada Legislature, we must urge legislators to stop this nonsense by saying no to SB 271. At the same time, we must also tell them and California legislators that we need to ensure TRPA does its job by strengthening the protections Tahoe needs to recover the lake's clarity and preserve the integrity of the local communities.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for a nice share


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