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Lake Tahoe Summit 2001, Lake Tahoe, Nevada

Remarks for Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
at the
Lake Tahoe Summit 2001
Lake Tahoe, Nevada

August 21, 2001

Thank you, Governor (Kenny) Guinn, for that kind introduction. It is such a pleasure to be with you here in Lake Tahoe.

This is one of the most beautiful alpine settings in our country, so it comes as no surprise that so many people have worked so hard to protect Lake Tahoe and its surrounding areas.

Those efforts, I am happy to say, have come from a wide variety of participants. I would first like to thank Senators Reid and Ensign for hosting today’s event. Their hard work, along with the dedication of Congressman Gibbons, the entire Nevada Congressional Delegation and Governor Guinn, will help preserve this unique treasure for future generations.

On behalf of the EPA, I would also like to thank Steve Teshara, and everyone on the Federal Advisory Committee, for helping to cultivate the best efforts from all of the federal agencies involved in the protection of Lake Tahoe. Many of these participating agencies are represented today, and I would like to quickly recognize Chief Bosworth of the Forest Service, General Flowers of the Army Corps of Engineers, Dr. Groat of the Geological Survey, and Mr. Keys of the Bureau of Reclamation. We all look forward to the Federal Partnership continuing its leadership in the Tahoe Basin.

As you all know, the greatest advocates for this area are the swimmers, hikers, and skiers who enjoy – and help protect – the Lake Tahoe region every day. The environmental challenges we face have inspired collaboration among partners from all levels of government, local organizations, the private sector, and many residents. The commonality of their goal is as clear as the water in this beautiful lake – and they deserve our thanks as well.

I understand, however, that this crystal water – and the sensitive environment surrounding it – face a number of threats. President Bush and the entire Administration are concerned about a variety of environmental issues in the Lake Tahoe Basin. In addition to acting quickly to ensure that Lake Tahoe does not forever lose the clarity that made it famous, we must also address the health of the Tahoe Basin’s forest, regional air quality, and transportation concerns.

The federal government has played an important role in the Tahoe region for more than 100 years, and I can assure you that the Administration remains committed to restoring and protecting this precious natural treasure. We will continue to pursue the goals of the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act by providing the technical expertise, monitoring, and research that are crucial to this preservation. To that end, President Bush’s budget called for more than twice the amount of funding for Lake Tahoe as last year’s presidential budget.

The partnership approach has yielded great success here at Lake Tahoe and this Administration believes that progress on the Environmental Improvement Program will continue by renewing – and reinvigorating – those partnerships. At the federal level, EPA will coordinate its activity with other agencies under the Federal Interagency Partnership to move ahead with implementation of the EIP and set a new standard of environmental achievement in this region.

As part of this partnership, EPA’s role here in Lake Tahoe is consistent with the Administration’s approach to environmental protection in general. EPA will ensure that strong science plays an integral role in decision making, that actions achieve desired results, and that we effectively support locally-based efforts.

EPA will work with our federal partners and researchers active in the Basin to provide a scientific basis for decision making at Lake Tahoe. Just this month, the University of California - Davis is completing an EPA funded water clarity forecasting model that will allow us to predict – for the first time – the pollution reductions needed to attain the desired water clarity in the lake.

EPA also contributes funding and technical expertise to state, local, and tribal governments to implement solutions that get results. We’ve contributed to a variety of projects, from the stormwater settling basin at Incline Villiage to the Washoe Tribe’s wetlands restoration at Meeks Creek. We have also aided the efforts of individual homeowners through the backyard conservation program. These initiatives are characteristic of the multitude of actions needed throughout the Lake Tahoe region.

Lastly, EPA has a unique role in supporting partnerships on the local level. We have an EPA employee stationed right here at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency who helps to coordinate implementation of the EIP with federal, state, and especially local partners. We will continue to support this crucial position so that EPA maintains an active local role in the protection of Lake Tahoe.

While the federal government’s role in the Tahoe Basin is substantial, the restoration and preservation of the lake environment depends primarily on local leadership. You know better than anyone – and certainly better than us in Washington, DC – what solutions will work best to achieve the Lake Tahoe Basin’s established goals for a beautiful lake, a healthy forest, and a vital economy.

My intention is for America’s air to be cleaner, water purer, and land better protected when I leave the EPA than it was when I arrived. We are on our way to making these goals a reality right here in the Lake Tahoe Basin and I look forward to working with you to complete the job. In doing so, we can ensure that our children and grandchildren are able to enjoy the same spectacular setting that we enjoy today.

Thank you.