Friday, February 15, 2013

Bonanza Column 272 - Time to Stop this Ridiculous Lawsuit

So once again we have the interests and opinions of a vocal few blocking the implementation of hard science and the will of the majority.
I’m referring of course to the ridiculous lawsuit by the Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore attempting to block implementation of the TRPA Regional Plan Update (RPU) and the scurrilous, radical guest column in last week’s Bonanza by their hangers-on.
As a reminder, while I did work for TRPA I no longer have any administrative or management accountability there, though I am doing some training for the staff This column is intended to represent my views and my views alone, and not those of the Agency or any of its staff or Governing Board.
Let’s review the bidding: The RPU is the first significant update to environmental protection standards at Lake Tahoe since 1987. The update was years in the making, involved countless hours of scientific and public input, and fostered an unprecedented level of bi-state collaboration to come out with a plan that incorporates much of what the Sierra Club itself has advocated over the years. It institutes and retains growth control limits and restrictions that are among the strongest in the US.
The League to Save Lake Tahoe, historically an advocate for the most stringent environmental regulation and no friend of TRPA responded to the lawsuit this way:
This is the wrong move for Lake Tahoe....While the plan is not perfect, it is a product of community collaboration and compromise, and is designed to be adaptive...litigation will likely result in the dissolution of this compact and no compact means no regional environmental standards for Lake Tahoe. Preserving the compact and implementing the RPU will provide the greatest long-term benefit to the lake and its communities.
Similar responses came from the Nevada Conservation League and in a joint statement from California Secretary of Natural Resources, John Laird and Nevada Director of Conservation and Natural Resources, Leo Drozdoff. Laird and Drozdoff were the principal architects of the bi-state collaboration.
Despite all this, the Sierra Club and its partners apparently consider their opinion of what is good for Lake Tahoe superior to the collective conclusions of environmental scientists, the agencies of California and Nevada, the TRPA, the majority of public input and almost everyone else. I guess it must be nice to have that smug sense of superiority that is impervious to rational consideration – kind of like Wayne La Pierre and the NRA.
One of the basest fabrications on the part of these self-appointed guardians of what’s good for the rest of us is that somehow TRPA (and presumably the scientists, public, and state agencies) are “in the pocket of developers.” I worked at TRPA as a contract executive for a year, and if any largesse was being passed out by some evil cabal of developers I never saw any evidence of it and, worse yet, they missed me! If you’re out there, evil cabal, I’m waiting for my check. But I won’t hold my breath because no one had produced one shred of evidence to support that canard.
If you have the stomach to plow through the 33 pages of the legal complaint, you will see that it is poorly formulated and based on the thinnest foundation imaginable. The Federal Court should summarily dismiss it and can do so on any number of grounds.
One last thing: isn’t it time that these self-appointed “guardians of the lake” come clean about their real agendas and conflicts of interest? What about the realtor who rails against development but makes her living selling Mc Mansions on the lake shore to millionaires? What about the vocal critic of any human inroads into the environment who owns property in a sensitive stream environment zone? Or the loud critic of TRPA who has been cited for numerous serious environmental violations and refuses to correct them?
It’s time to give up the knee-jerk negative response to government in general and TRPA in particular and stop listening to these hypocrites. The RPU may not be a perfect plan, but it is a good one with enough checks and adaptability built in that if offers the best chance for a balance between humans and nature in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

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