Tahoe: It's Up to California

Under its normal schedule, the Nevada Legislature would have adjourned last Wednesday. Alas for Lake Tahoe, it did not. The current session has been extended, possibly into June.

This means that legislation to withdraw Nevada from the California-Nevada interstate planning compact remains alive, although a total pullout now seems unlikely. Gov. Richard H. Bryan had threatened to veto the bill if it passed, but it is not certain that he would have the votes to prevent an override.

The Nevada Legislature also has talked of canceling its financial support of the interstate Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, a move that also would have crippled efforts to control development in the mountain lake basin. But now TRPA foes in Nevada have a new strategy that is less dramatic but that still could have a critical effect on TRPA. The Nevada Senate and Assembly have passed, without a dissenting vote, a measure that would allow the stacking of appointments to the agency in favor of pro-development forces. No longer, for instance, would a certain number of the state's four appointees have to come from outside the Tahoe basin.

Compact revision would have to be approved by the California Legislature and Congress. A bill is likely to be pushed in the California Legislature soon. Every effort should be made to block it in Sacramento.

In the meantime, California Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp and the League to Save Lake Tahoe are pressing their lawsuit to keep the Tahoe agency from implementing its inadequate protection plan for the lake. Regrettably, attempts to negotiate an out-of-court settlement have broken down.

One observer of the Carson City scene said that "the mood is so sour in Nevada" that legislators don't even bother paying lip service to the maintenance of a strong, environmentally oriented Tahoe planning agency. Again, it is up to California to protect Tahoe. California must not relent.

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