Summit planned for Tahoe |

Summit planned for Tahoe

Susan Wood

Sens. John Ensign and Harry Reid, a Republican and Democrat, are teaming up to host the Lake Tahoe Restoration Summit set for Aug. 21 at Zephyr Cove Resort.

It’s become an annual date for the two senators, Ensign declared in a conference call Wednesday. Beyond their support for protecting the lake’s clarity, they’ve also presented a united front on the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump.

“I never thought we’d have the kind of working relationship we’ve been having in this last session,” Ensign said of Reid.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head Christine Todd Whitman will participate in the summit, which was established to address lake needs and commemorate the passage of the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act.

The bill, introduced by Reid and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., authorizes $30 million a year over the next decade to pay for rehabilitation projects. President Bush proposed spending $14 million in his budget plan.

“We must ensure the federal government continues to follow through with that commitment. This summit will be an opportunity to show the current administration the vital role the federal government plays in protecting this national treasure,” Reid said.

The Senate appropriated $23 million earmarked for Tahoe environmental projects two weeks ago. The funds are part of a larger appropriations bill that must pass a House-Senate conference committee before reaching the desk of President Bush.

California and Nevada senators continue to try to bump the amount to the $30 million allocation authorized by former President Bill Clinton. The total amount – $300 million – represents a third of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s $908 million Environmental Improvement Program.

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