Nevda’s funding role in EIP up for public debate today |

Nevda’s funding role in EIP up for public debate today

The first public hearing is scheduled today for discussion on a bill that would fulfill Nevada’s obligation to Lake Tahoe’s Environmental Improvement Program.

The Assembly Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on Nevada Assembly Bill 285. Introduced last month, the bill authorizes $56.4 million in state bonds between now and July 2007 to pay for improvements at Lake Tahoe.

“This is the first hearing on this bill. It’s important. We’ll be able to get an idea of what’s going to happen,” said Pam Drum, public affairs coordinator for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency “With this bill, Nevada will actually put the funding mechanism in place to fulfill 100 percent of its share of the EIP.”

The EIP identifies capital investments that need to be made over the next decade to meet TRPA’s thresholds for water quality, soil conservation, air quality, vegetation, wildlife, fisheries, recreation and scenery. A draft of the EIP was considered at the time of the 1997 Lake Tahoe Presidential Forum, and TRPA’s governing board officially approved it about a year ago.

The cost for implementation is expected to be about $908 million, which is divided between federal, state and local governments and the private sector.

About $82 million of the EIP funding is supposed to come from Nevada. The voters in 1996 approved $20 million in revenue bonds for erosion control and wetlands restoration, and the Nevada Department of Transportation also has designated funding for Tahoe over the next seven years. The $56.4 million designated in AB 285 would satisfy the rest.

“Nevada has done an outstanding job,” Drum said.

About $275 million of the EIP is supposed to come from California.

“Gov. (Gray) Davis has, in his budget submittal to the Legislature for the next fiscal year, acknowledged California’s responsibility for funding EIP projects,” Drum said. “He also has requested an additional $21 million for the next fiscal year, in addition to $20 million California has already come up with, through either voter-approved bonds or general funds allocations. With the state coming up with $20 million over the last couple of years and the governor’s latest request, that’s $40 million in three years. California’s commitment to the EIP has also been very significant.”

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