Brown urges Congress to think big on climate, Lake Tahoe

Source: By David Siders, Sacramento Bee • Posted: Wednesday, August 26, 2015

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) repeated calls to “decarbonize the economy” while speaking at an annual conference on the state of Lake Tahoe yesterday as officials are increasingly concerned about the effect of wildfires on the lake.

Because drought conditions increase fire risk, many scientists are concerned that rising global temperatures may worsen both wildfires and the effects of California’s drought.

In the short term, the lake’s water quality seems to be improving because of the drought, scientists have found. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, found earlier this year that the average water clarity in 2014 was the best in almost a decade, though average annual temperatures were the highest recorded since 1910 (Greenwire, April 7).

Brown said the seriousness of the problem shows that Congress should not consider a scaled-back version of the “Lake Tahoe Restoration Act,” introduced by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.).

“Smaller versions come from smaller minds,” Brown said. “And Lake Tahoe — the environment — are big. And we have to expand our thoughts, invest intelligently.”

Brown added that policymakers needed to think creatively when discussing how to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, including at Lake Tahoe.

“Whether it’s protecting the lake from invasive species or doing the right thing by way of the forests, or electrifying vehicles, or maybe bringing back the trains that used to take people to Tahoe,” Brown said. “All of that costs money, but it actually improves our quality of life and makes things better for everybody, no matter what the small minds say”