Rep. McClintock supports Nevada SB 271, labels TRPA ‘huge inhibitor of economic growth’
Sierra Sun / Tahoe Daily Tribune
TRUCKEE, Calif. – Rep. Tom McClintock, the California 4th District congressman representing the Tahoe-Truckee region, paid a visit to the Tribune’s sister paper the Sierra Sun on Tuesday to answer a few questions about the Tahoe Basin’s environmental policies, the federal Lake Tahoe Restoration Act and Nevada Senate Bill 271, among others.
McClintock had a few choice words to say about the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, labeling it “a house of ill repute” for what he alleges as poor representation of its constituency and economic inhibitors to homeowners and businesses.
Below are excerpts from the interview:
Sierra Sun: You previously supported the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act. Do you support the federal Lake Tahoe Restoration Act of 2011, which, if approved, would infuse another $415M for environmental improvements for the Lake Tahoe Basin? Why or why not?
Senator Tom McClintock: I certainly support its objectives and I’ve supported it in the past, but I don’t think the Chinese are going to be loaning us much more money and I’m very skeptical the money is going to be available in this session. I think it’s important to continue to raise the issue. I certainly salute (Senator) Dianne Feinstein for continuing to raise the issue in the Senate. It’s a good measure, but the money isn’t there at the moment, and I’d be deceiving you if I suggested otherwise.
Sun: How important should spending millions of dollars on the continued restoration of the Lake Tahoe region be in a time when the economy is still at one of its lowest points?
McClintock: That’s part and parcel with the former question – the money is just not there. The federal government is running a $1.5 trillion budget deficit this year alone – that’s about 20,000 for a family of four that they are obligated to repay just as surely as if it appeared on their credit card statement this month, and the Internal Revenue Service is very good at making sure they pay it before they get their credit card statement. So it’s not a theoretical number – it’s a very real thing, and it’s having a huge negative impact on the economy. So until we get our economy back in good order and bring spending back under control, I just don’t believe the funding is going to be there.
Sierra Sun: What is your take on Nevada Senate Bill 271, which, if approved, would withdraw Nevada from the TRPA? Does the TRPA have to be a bistate entity to be successful?
McClintock: I love it (the bill). I think that should be viewed as a huge vote of no confidence in TRPA. And a warning I issued two years ago when we had the Tahoe summit and pointed out that the single biggest complaint I get anywhere in the region is over the user participation by TRPA for individual property rights and local land use decision making. People are fed up with it and now we’re seeing legislative movement to readdress that grievance.
Sierra Sun: So do you believe TRPA inhibits economic growth in the region?
McClintock: I believe it is a huge inhibitor of economic growth.
Sierra Sun: Following that, some people say the reason behind Senate Bill 271 is because California has an over-regulatory influence to TRPA, and development decisions around the lake are directly affected – mainly, that Nevada projects get the short end of the stick. Do you feel there is fair representation on TRPA between California and Nevada?
McClintock: Well, again, I gave a speech on this a couple of years ago and I question the entire structure of TRPA. The way the votes are structured allows a minority to control policy and to stand as an obstacle to economic growth. I firmly believe that the most jealous guardians of the quality of life of the community is within the community itself. Outsiders should not be making those decisions that directly impact local communities and we need to restore local decision making to local citizens. I think the whole structure of TRPA is unfortunate, I think it is dysfunctional and I think it is causing enormous amounts of economic damage to this region.
Or as Edmund Burke once put it, ‘Early reformations are amicable arrangements made with a friend in power, late reformation are terms imposed on a conquered enemy, early reformation are made in cold blood late reformations are made in a state of inflammation. In that state of things people seeing no good in government will react upon it as they would a house of ill repute, they go to work by the shortest possible means, they abate the nuisance they tear down the house.’ TRPA had an opportunity for an early reformation and now I think they’re in for a late reformation.
When I was giving that speech (an earlier speech against TRPA) I expected it to be controversial I was stunned when the place went up in applause.
Sierra Sun: Should marijuana be legalized in California?
McClintock: I’m not prepared to support outright legalization of marijuana, but I am prepared to observe that our current laws on the subject – far from reducing crime – I’m afraid are breeding it. The reason we have laws is to protect people from other people – not to protect them from themselves.
Sierra Sun: Do you believe legalization has potential political clout to see it getting passed in the future?
McClintock: I think it’s going to remain an active matter of public discussion for sometime.
Sierra Sun: A committee was formed this week by the state to assess the possibility of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Reno/Tahoe. Do you support the 2022 Winter Olympic Games coming to Reno/Tahoe? Why or why not? Can this region handle an Olympics?
McClintock: Is this a trick question? Of course I support the Olympics coming to Lake Tahoe. Of course the region can handle the Olympics – it’s not inexperienced in doing so and the economic boom would be enormous. I was going to say there is also a great deal of prestige involved but I think its a prestige for the Olympics that they are doing it in Tahoe, rather than of Tahoe that the Olympics is coming here. Whenever I’m talking to folks who aren’t from California and they’re asking me where my district is, if I say well it’s north of Sacramento I get this kind of blank look. If I say well the principal population centers are Roseville and El Dorado Hills, I get a blank look. All I have to say is I have Tahoe in my district and their faces light up. Which leads me to believe that Tahoe has got a pretty good chance (for the Olympics).
Sierra Sun: Gas prices are skyrocketing, and they are at some of the highest levels in the nation right here in Truckee/Tahoe, on average probably 20-50 cents higher than in other areas in the valleys of Placer, Nevada and El Dorado counties. Is that right? Or that said in another way are they overly inflated here?
McClintock: Of course they are, they are overly inflated here because of logistical issues. They’re are overly inflated in California because of marketing issues; the fact that we have pretty much a closed market because of government restrictions on fuel blends. It’s a very small closed market which is responsible for Californians even in the best of times paying 10-50 cents more than the national average. We also have several other factors to create this catastrophe, one of them is highly restrictive laws on development of American energy supplies. The house natural resource committee just passed bills to open up American petroleum reserves to development that will actually be debated on the house with my strong support.
The other factor that is pushing up food prices and commodity prices as well is simple old-fashioned inflation that is coming back with a vengeance because the Federal Reserve has more than doubled the monetary base of this country. There are more than twice as many dollars in circulation as there were two years ago, and prices are beginning to rapidly adjust to that fact. I am concerned that the federal reserves policy is driving an inflation rate that may surpass anything that our nation has known before. Again, we’ve seen an increase in our nation’s monetary base on a scale some 10 times greater than anything in the history of the Federal Reserve, so we don’t even have experiential data to compare. I think were in for a debilitating rise in inflation and again that’s why you’re seeing other commodities rise in price as well. I think that once America signals a clear resolve to open up its energy resources that’s going to have a huge impact on the futures gas prices. Another thing raising gas prices is the situation going on in the Middle East, which I have no way to predict. So for all those reasons I certainly hope they peak soon.