Lines in the sand: Remove NV from TRPA?

Nevada lawmakers are proposing that the state withdraw from the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact, overseen by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. The TRPA was created 42 years ago by Congress and two Republican governors, Ronald Reagan of California and Paul Laxalt of Nevada. Developed in response to rampant development underway at the lake after the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, the TRPA was tasked with balancing the manmade and natural environment at the lake through a series of policies and regulations. Those policies are not always popular, with many viewing them as stifling.

With SB 271, the bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, says environmental regulations at the lake are dominated by California and that Nevada should make decisions for Nevada.

The bi-state compact was created largely because Lake Tahoe’s ecology doesn’t care about state lines—erosion, algae or other environmental impacts on one side of the lake can impact the other side.

Nevada has tried to separate from TRPA seven times before, with common complaints being that the agency is anti-development and anti-business.

This is the latest in a series of challenges faced recently by the TRPA. In the past year, the agency has lost a major lawsuit, lost former spokesman Dennis Oliver to a swift and fatal brain illness, had to lay off employees, and is now looking for a new legal counsel, all while attempting to redraw its Regional Plan for the first time in 24 years.

Rochelle Nason, executive director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe—the same nonprofit that successfully sued TRPA over its shorezone ordinances—told the Reno Gazette-Journal last week “The Tahoe Regional Planning Compact is critical to ensuring the states work together with the federal government and local communities for the future of Lake Tahoe. Destroying that cooperation would be a grave error. We need everyone on the same page in the effort to keep Tahoe blue.”

If Nevada separates from TRPA, the legislators—Sens. Lee and James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville; and Reps. Pat Hickey, R-Reno; Randy Kirner, R-Reno, and Kelly Kite, R-Minden—propose that a governing board called the Nevada Tahoe Regional Planning Agency would take over the Nevada side of TRPA’s interests. The NTRPA already exists but primarily deals with gaming issues at the lake. The NTRPA under this bill would consist of seven members, including representatives of the Douglas and Washoe counties’ boards of commissioners, Carson City board of supervisors, Nevada governor, lieutenant governor, state forester, fire warden and administrator of the Division of State Lands. It would be overseen by three members of the Nevada Senate and three members of the Nevada Assembly.

The TRPA is currently comprised of a 15-member governing board, seven of whom are from California, seven from Nevada and one non-voting member appointed by the U.S. President.