Overturn SB271 so Tahoe's communities can move forward

Jan 21, 2013:
By Darcie Goodman-Collins, PhD, League executive director
Reno Gazette-Journal
Jan 21, 2013

This piece first appeared in the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Growing up in Tahoe was idealistic. I spent my summer days on the lake and winter afternoons on the slopes. As I grew older, I grew to understand the responsibility we have to preserve this treasure. Now, as the executive director of the League to save Lake Tahoe, I work every day to make sure that the lake I love is protected and my community revitalized.

In December, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency passed a new regional plan after almost a decade of heated discussion. Yet, Tahoe’s communities still linger in uncertainty over their future because of SB271, a Nevada law that threatens to eliminate the TRPA and dissolve a plan diverse interests worked together to pass.

Nevada’s leaders must now do the right thing to protect Lake Tahoe for future generations and overturn SB271.

For a decade, the League advocated for a regional plan that would protect the lake. The League supported finalizing the plan for three reasons.

First, so that Tahoe’s communities can move forward with certainty about the region’s environmental regulations.

Second, to help the effort to repeal SB271, which presents the prospect of no lake-wide regulator and uncertain regulations. Because it’s unclear whether the provisions of SB271 will take effect, the law unfairly keeps Tahoe’s communities wondering what, if any, rules to plan by. This could delay the plan’s positive impacts for the environment and economy.

Now, rich developers and political donors are trying to keep SB271 on the books. We urge Gov. Sandoval to follow Secretary of State Ross Miller’s call to overturn SB271.

Third, although the League is a strong watchdog and we are proud of our legal victories that protect the lake, we also have a renewed commitment to collaboration that seeks to avoid lawsuits and helps our communities move forward. This summer, we participated in a bistate working group to iron out issues with the plan.

We were able to suggest meaningful improvements, including eliminating widespread development on most raw land and recreation areas, as well as limiting increases in density and height.

Compromises were tough. The environmental community did not get everything it wanted, but the League believed that the alternative of uncertain regulation was worse. The plan is not perfect, but we are ready to move forward after almost a decade of uncertainty.

In 2012, we took a step back and examined what our membership and community want for the lake’s future: an invested community dedicated to environmental protection and vitality.

Progress is possible if we produce certainty for Tahoe’s communities. The League will be supporting the Nevada Conservation League and community leaders in their effort to repeal SB271 this legislative session.

Nevadans who care about the Lake’s future should call on their legislative representatives to overturn the law and ensure strong environmental protection for the lake we all love. As we step into 2013, collaboration and cooperation are vital to Keeping Tahoe Blue.
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