Officials weigh climate change at 2019 Lake Tahoe Summit

Tahoe Onstage

Lake Tahoe Summit speakers California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, left, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and California Reps. John Garamendi and Tom McClintock.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage photos

Climate change and politics filled the minds of the top government officials who spoke Tuesday at the 23rd annual Lake Tahoe Summit.

More than 800 people came to Valhalla Tahoe’s Tallac Historic Site to hear speeches from the governors and U.S. senators from California and Nevada, along with two congressmen from California, including Tahoe’s representative Tom McClintock, the only Republican on the stage.

“This is bipartisan,” Nevada Gov. Stephen Sisolak said. “It’s bistate and it’s a singular cause.”

Lake clarity was the theme when the event started in 1997 as the Lake Tahoe Presidential Summit. President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore hosted the event. A long-term governmental and private commitment was pledged. Since then, more than $2 billion has been invested in Lake Tahoe Basin restoration projects.

“Climate change was barely touched upon at the first summit,” Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto said. “President Clinton mentioned it twice, but it was not the focus. It was a footnote. … I am saddened the current administration has abandoned crucial global leadership.”

Later, keynote speaker California Gov. Gavin Newsom lamented and laughed, “I miss Richard Nixon. There, I said it.”

Nixon was president during the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the bistate Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, which oversees regulation on Lake Tahoe.

The largest applause was for a remark from California Congressman John Garamendi, who blamed the last four or five generations for unprecedented levels of carbon and methane into the atmosphere.

Speaking collectively for the elected officials onstage, he said, “We represent the future generation. Are we willing to do what has to be done? If somebody asks you for their vote, you should ask them, ‘Are you willing to take on this challenge?’ ”

Megan Shumway, who came up from Sacramento for the event, said this issue was understated.

“They didn’t address the real problem,” she said. “This is a climate emergency. It is delusional to think about climate change as being survivable. It’s an extinction event.”

Related story: U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein has fiery response to vocal Sunrise Movement members from Butte Country. LINK

 — Tim Parsons

Tahoe Onstage

Keynote speaker California Gov. Gavin Newsom at the podium. Behind Newsom, from left, USDA Deputy Regional Forester Barnie Gyant, Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Mr. Steven James, a Washoe tribal elder, meets Feinstein before the event starts. James opened the Lake Tahoe Summit with a prayer.

Tahoe Onstage

Nevada Gov. Stephen Sisolak congratulates the Shane McConkey Foundation’s EcoChallenge Winners.

About Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

One comment

  1. Everyone one of these politicians is entrenched in climate destruction to hold onto their seats at their political party table. This shows how deep corruption goes with hippie environmental CA elected officials representing special interests over the health of the people and all life on Earth.

    The overdevelopment surrounding the lake and Tahoe Keys are the #1 cause for the decline of clarity of Lake Tahoe. Where once was a filtration meadow and marshes now sits condos, pavement, cars, businesses, etc… the pollution of all these things runs directly into the lake where it once was filtered in the natural environment.

    “The Keys were dredged and molded from the middle of the Truckee Marsh, a vast wetlands area that was fed by the Upper Truckee River and Trout Creek. Contrary to popular belief, the Keys were not filled in, in the classic sense of the term. No foreign materials were brought in – the area was simply dredged, and the extra soil was used to form the different islands.”

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