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Nevada and Eastern California
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Reno, NV 89507

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Lake Tahoe: Please contact your legislators in Nevada to rescind SB 271.

Tahoe: National Importance

Lake Tahoe has been of national importance ever since Congress, in 1969, adopteLake Tahoe - Clarity needs to be protected. - D.Ghiglierid the first Bi-State Compact to protect the Lake and the Tahoe Basin’s natural resources. President Nixon signed the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) legislation in December 1969, forty-two years ago.

Due to the failure of the first Compact to protect the lake and basin, Congress adopted a revised Compact (1980) that changed the earlier version. The voting structure of the Governing Board (GB) was shifted from local dominance to out-of-basin dominance through appointments of the two Governors and state legislative bodies in both states. Local electeds continued to serve as representatives of the five counties and one city. Casino expansion was halted.
The new Compact also beefed up its environmental protection measures, adding Environmental Threshold Carrying Capacities (ETCCs or thresholds, for short) and requiring that all policy and project decisions must comply with the threshold standards, regulated by a specific condition of the Compact that the GB was required to make individual findings for ache threshold standard as a part of the approval.

Nevada Pull-Out Bill SB 271

Stop the pullout of Nevada from the TRPA.  See the Nevada Conservation League's petition to support the rescission of the ill-conceived SB 271.  Go here for more information on SB 271 and why it needs to be rescinded.
The Nevada Legislature approved and Nevada Governor Sandoval signed a bill in June that will pull the state out of the Bi-State Compact that is the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) by December 2012. The bill was sponsored by the Nevada realtors, Tahoe’s largest developers, with the support of the casino industry. See Nevada seeks to loosen California’s grip on Tahoe Development, July 27, 2011, Bettina Boxall.

The bill demands that the state of California agree with its provisions, and if not, the bill requires that Nevada pull- out of the agency. Those provisions include 1) completion of the Regional Plan by December 2012, 2) remove the supermajority vote required for certain plans and projects, and 3) require a specific analysis of all economic impacts of agencies decisions on the Tahoe economy.  See Is era of cooperation over at Tahoe?, Sacramento Bee, 7/3/2011.

$1.5 Billion Federal Funding for Tahoe

But the proof of a commitment to Tahoe from Congress was not long in coming. In addition to creating the bi- state agency, federal money, in the millions of dollars for Tahoe, followed both Compacts. To date, Tahoe has received more than $1.5 billion to protect and restore the lake and the basin’s natural resources. While the states have contributed to that number, the federal government has born the lion’s share.

During the first Compact, the federal government provided $12.5 million to buy up two casino sites, one with preliminary grading, the other with the remnant foundations of an old casino that featured blue window glass overlooking the lake plus another large grant to buy up several thousand developable acres at Meeks Bay from the Pennsylvania Railroad.    That began 36 years of significant financial support for the TRPA by the nation.

In 1980, Congress passed the Santini-Burton Act, signed by President Carter. In passing the Act, Congress declared that the environmental quality of the Lake Tahoe Basin was jeopardized by over-development of sensitive lands and that the unique character of the Lake Tahoe Basin is of national significance deserving further protection. The Act provided $105 million for purchases of sensitive lots, and $16 million specifically for erosion control.. That act was followed by the Southern Nevada Public Lands Act, which furthered the earlier act of selling BLM lands to developers and this time provided grant funding for numerous projects in the basin, focused on erosion control and USFS projects.

The last big input of federal funds starting in 2000 was from the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act, a Clinton- sponsored bill carried by Senators Reid and Feinstein. That Act provided $300 million for various projects to restore the lake and the basin. Its findings are reminiscent of the first Compact, but with the 2000 clarity severely reduced to 70 feet:

(4) Lake Tahoe is in the midst of an environmental crisis; the Lake’s water clarity has declined from a visibility level of 105 feet in 1967 to only 70 feet in 1999, and scientific estimates indicate that if the water quality at the Lake continues to degrade, Lake Tahoe will lose its famous clarity in only 30 years;

(5) sediment and algae-nourishing phosphorous and nitrogen continue to flow into the Lake from a variety of sources, including land erosion, fertilizers, air pollution, urban runoff, highway drainage, streamside erosion, land disturbance, and ground water flow;
agencies decisions on the Tahoe economy.  See Is era of cooperation over at Tahoe?, Sacramento Bee, 7/3/2011.

Club's Role

Sierra Club Role at Tahoe The Sierra Club was involved in early TRPA activities, though individuals that lived in the basin and spoke as Sierra Club members. Later, Dwight Steele officially represented the Sierra Club, then became counsel to the League to Save Lake Tahoe, taking his Club sensitivities with him. In 1999-2000, the Tahoe Area Sierra Club was formed and has been active in TRPA issues ever since. The TASC also began an effort to organize the small environmental groups that were forming in the basin to address issues that the League was unwilling to take on.    In 2007 the TASC worked cooperatively with the League on the successful shorezone lawsuit to prevent the ongoing expansion of private piers, buoys, and shorezone structures on the lake. The TRPA has appealed that decision.