Bill to lift threat of Nevada abandoning TRPA opposed
A litany of witnesses including Sandoval administration officials told the Senate Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday that repealing the law threatening to pull Nevada out of the bi-state Tahoe compact is premature and could threaten gains made in the past two years.
Senate Bill 271 was passed in 2011. It directed that, without major changes and progress between California and Nevada at Tahoe, Nevada would pull out.
Environmental groups including the Nevada Conservation League and League to Save Lake Tahoe argue that the law has done its job and should be repealed so it doesn’t poison the progress that has been made.
But a long list of opponents say the law is the real reason California and environmental groups came to the table to develop a long-overdue update to the Tahoe Regional Plan.
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency board member Steve Robinson said that before the 2011 law, “some members barely spoke to each other.” While the new plan was approved 12-1 by the governing board in December, it hasn’t been implemented.
“It still needs to be tested,” Robinson said. “The counties haven’t yet put it into effect. Staff hasn’t put it into effect.
And despite the broad support from the California and Nevada members of the board, he said the Sierra Club has already filed suit to block it.
Leo Drozdoff, head of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said that’s the opinion of Gov. Brian Sandoval as well, that the administration opposes repeal of the 2011 law.
He said Sandoval has “taken a pivotal and unprecedented role” at Tahoe over the past two years.
“It’s a widely held belief that if it were not for the leadership shown by Gov. Sandoval and Gov. (Jerry) Brown, the recently adopted plan approved by a vote of 12-1 would not have occurred,” he said. “The completed plan demonstrates that real progress has been made.”
He said repeal is premature.
“I believe this bill actually threatens the gains we’ve made over past two years,” Drozdoff said.
Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, prime sponsor of the repeal bill, said there is no argument the two states and nearly all stakeholders have come together. But he said to continue that, it’s essential Nevada “re-commit to the (bi-state) compact and repeal SB271.”
TRPA Director Joanne Machetta said that in the past two years, the agency has made significant accomplishments to the point where “today, it’s a different agency.”
Several witnesses from Douglas County, South Lake Tahoe and other local governments, along with business leaders from the Tahoe Basin, also said it’s too early to pull back the threat of abandoning TRPA. Mike Draper, representing the South Tahoe Alliance, a group of businesses including that area’s resorts, said until the 2011 law, “communication and cooperation were unheard of” at the lake. He said the law has helped create the kind of communication that is actually getting things done and should remain in place at least another two years, as originally anticipated.
“After 18 months, to say it’s a whole new environment after 30 years is jumping the gun,” he said.
But Kyle Davis of the Nevada Conservation League objected to the suggestion all progress would grind to a halt if the law is repealed.
“This idea that everything will shut down, I just don’t buy that,” he said.
Davis also said he is confident the new regional plan is legally defensible and will survive the Sierra Club challenge.
Committee Chairman Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, said he is hopeful there is some compromise that can be developed.
“The governor has already indicated that, without some compromise, he’s not going to sign this,” he said.
The committee took no action on SB229.