Monday, August 13, 2012

Trouble at Tahoe

The Lake Tahoe Summit is today. And already, tension is brewing. As we discussed early this month, everything from climate change to shady Carson City "deal making" has further threatened Tahoe and muddied the lake's future (literally!).

And in case that isn't bad enough, we're seeing political tension brewing up there as well. At the last minute, Shelley Berkley decided to attend the summit. She was planning not to attend after Dean Heller declined to offer her any speech time, but apparently she was later able to secure some "break out time" today with key local Tahoe region leaders.

Yet while many media pundits will be viewing this for the horserace related antics, this actually caught my eye.

The impacts of climate change, including generally warming waters and lessening of mixing of lake waters, appear conducive to high populations of algae, said Geoffrey Schladow, director of the University of California, Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center.

Changing ecological trends are not the only challenge ahead. Another is diminishing funding in the face of the country’s economic troubles.

At last year’s summit, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller — host of this year’s event — spoke of a “new reality” as government funding to pay for costly restoration projects at the lake dries up.

“Quite simply, we need to learn to do more with less,” the Republican lawmaker said at the time.

Yet again, Dean Heller is telling Nevadans to "learn to do more with less" while he keeps looking out for his political patrons. And what's really callous about this is that Northern Nevada's economy is very dependent on the health and well being of Lake Tahoe. If Tahoe isn't looking all that clear, then neither is the future of Northern Nevada's economy.

It's saddening, but it really shouldn't be surprising. This really is Dean Heller's MO. Now that we're in an election year, Heller is going through all the motions of "caring about the future of Lake Tahoe". But when push comes to shove, he doesn't really want to take action on climate change, ensure a smart path forward for sustainable development, or even extend common courtesy with other members of Nevada's Congressional Delegation. We'll have to see if anything beyond a politically convenient photo-op is accomplished today in Stateline.

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