At summit, leaders criticize Sierra Club suit over lawsuit
INCLINE VILLAGE — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and California Gov. Jerry Brown took the stage Monday during the Lake Tahoe Summit and criticized the Sierra Club for suing to block a recent update of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Regional Plan.
The update, the first major revision of the TRPA’s regional plan in 25 years, was worked out over about seven years between the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and officials from several federal and state agencies, business groups and environmental activists.
In May, Brown and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval committed both states to continue working together to preserve the lake, and Nevada repealed its threatened withdrawal from the TRPA. In return, California has agreed to back away from its threat to re-establish the California Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
The update includes revisions that require both states to consider economic conditions when developing rules for the lake “as well as language establishing a burden of proof for challenging a regional plan and decisions.” Changing the burden of proof would require people suing the TRPA to show that the agency has erred.
But despite support from other environmental groups, the Sierra Club sued to block implementation of the new management plan, saying it gives too much control to business and developers. The club previously said the plan was “unfocused” and didn’t go far enough to protect the area’s natural environment.
“I called the Sierra Club and said, ‘Don’t do this; legislation is an act of compromise,’” said Reid, D-Nev. “I’m right. They’re wrong.”
“We reject their lawsuit,” Brown said after the annual Tahoe Summit meeting. “They don’t quite get it.”
Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., said that after years of battles, “TRPA I think now is moderating its stance. I know what the Sierra Club is doing, but it’s unfortunate.”
The comments came during a news conference following the 17th annual summit on the health of the lake.
“You have to take this step by step,” Brown said. “It isn’t something some chapter in the Sierra Club wants.”
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said the regional plan “is something that’s 20 years in the making.”
But he said no matter what, “there is always going to be criticism.”
Sandoval said he thinks the legislation to implement the new compact and renew the bi-state partnership to preserve Tahoe will make its way through the California Legislature.