SoCalgroup ticks off Tahoans
A Los Angeles-based environmental group that wants to limit development and improve air quality here received a lashing from area leaders this weekend.
Some questioned whether anyone living in Los Angeles could give advice on environmental issues to those living at Tahoe.
“When they pull the cars off the roads in Los Angeles and clean up the air there, then maybe they have some credibility,” said Ted Long, a South Lake Tahoe city councilman.
Others questioned the group’s methods.
“This is a radical interest group that does not use any means of scientific research as part of any of its agenda,” said Peter DeMarco, spokesman for Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks. “They clearly did not do their homework.”
Environment California Research and Policy Center issued a report Thursday with the support of California Assemblyman Paul Koretz, D-West Hollywood, calling on water boards to exercise their authority to clean up the most polluted waters in the state.
Because it is losing clarity, Lake Tahoe is listed as an “impaired” body of water, although it consistently exceeds safe drinking water standards.
The group was steadfast when contacted on Monday.
“We respect the long history of debate that’s going on with water quality in the Tahoe Basin,” said Sujatha Jahagirdar, the report’s author. “We respect that decisions need to be made on the local level. But I don’t think anyone would suggest air deposition has been adequately addressed or that the question of the impact of development on the water quality of Lake Tahoe has been fully resolved.”
It’s thought that more than half of the nitrogen fueling algae growth in Lake Tahoe comes from automobile air pollution.
Long said the report implied people at Lake Tahoe are not already looking at ways to address water quality.
“There many of us here locally that have been working hard on these issues,” Long said. “You’d think these people would at least call us up, send up a copy and get our input. Instead they send out a report like we’ve been wasting our time for these last years, and it’s just downright insulting.”
Others felt they weren’t hearing anything new.
Dr. Pat Martin wrote a letter to the editor Monday saying the group “had no clue about living at Lake Tahoe.” He called them one dimensional and said they lacked any new ideas. Martin is head of the Citizens Alliance for Responsible Government.
When the policy center contacted the Tahoe Daily Tribune last week, it said it had worked with the League to Save Lake Tahoe on the report. League program manager John Friedrich said last week they helped give the group background information, but did not endorse anything in the report.
Meanwhile, Cox’s office took issue with their supporter, Koretz.
“It does raise an eyebrow that this group would trumpet the support of a West Hollywood legislator who’s only claims to fame are promoting needle exchange and legalizing ferrets,” DeMarco said.
Koretz’s chief of staff Sandra DeBourelando said Monday the assemblyman is an environmentalist and agreed to support the group because they were holding their press conference on the report in Santa Monica, which is in his district.
The comments from Cox’s office were telling of the partisan atmosphere in Sacramento right now. In fact, Koretz has personally authored 17 bills that have been signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, DeBourelando said.
The legislator is not involved in any needle exchange bill, she said. But he is joining others, including a Republican lawmaker, to legalize ferrets.
“Someone has to stick up for the animals, seriously,” DeBourelando said.
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