"We are in a very exciting time—a lot of risk, a lot of danger. I think the Lake stands as a microcosm of the larger issues that we face as a people." Jerry Brown, California Governor
AUGUST 16, 2011
Governor Jerry Brown spoke on the occasion of the 15th annual Lake Tahoe Federal Summit hosted on August 16, 2011 by Senator Dianne Feinstein. Following is her introduction and his speech.
Senator Dianne Feinstein: “I would like to introduce our next speaker CA Governor Jerry Brown. It has been 36 years since he first took office as Governor [audience laughter] and during his time in Sacramento as an elected official and in several capacities he has been a champion for the environment. Among his many accomplishments Governor Brown signed into law the California Coastal Protection Act. He helped gain protection of northern California’s Wild and Scenic Rivers. He brought about California’s first building and appliance energy efficiency standards. He has helped California become the leader in solar and alternative energy. Because I am a former Mayor I really think you don’t know anything until you have been a Mayor. I can say that he was a great Mayor for the City of Oakland. So it is a pleasure for me to introduce my friend and the Governor of the State of California, Jerry Brown.” [audience applause]
Governor Jerry Brown: “I noticed you all laughed when Dianne mentioned the 36-year period since I last sought the Governorship. Let me tell you, thirty-six years is no laughing matter. [audience laughter] It is very, very serious. But I am not going to discuss that today. I just want to talk about the Lake, about all of us together, about how we have to collaborate to preserve the incredible splendor of Lake Tahoe. It is not going to be easy. We have developed in all our affluence and progress and technology a lot of habits that don’t work so well for other species and for the natural balance on which this Lake has depended for eons.
It is well to note that the first peoples who came to Lake Tahoe were here about 10,000 years ago. Think about that when you think about 36 years! [audience laughter] 10,000 years. So we need a little sense of duration here. That sense of get-it-now, grab it, instantaneous gratification can drive various enterprises forward but that is not how nature works. Nature requires a balance. The human body needs homeostasis—that is, a balance—the cells, the microbes, the organisms, the materials that we take into the body for our sustenance, all of this requires a balance. When there is an imbalance the organism suffers and ultimately dies. New organisms come. [Aside] New political organisms come too…(so that’s why we’re worried). [audience laughter] I don’t know if I can go another 36 years but I’m going to try.
The Lake itself is going to require investment-not just private investment but it takes public investment and that is very difficult because our parties, our states, our country is/are divided. They just are. There are different points of view. Now as we try to come to decisions about what kind of collective public investments we make, we have science. We have research. We have some things we call facts (although even the things we call facts are disputable). After we get the best science we can, we still have to come down to our values, our sense of the good, our sense of life itself. So I see the struggle to preserve Lake Tahoe as part of the larger struggle as we, as very different human beings, work out how we are going to make our way. When you think of California, this is a state that not too many years ago had a fraction of the people that we have today; a fraction of the cars; a fraction of the stuff moving through the system. So, as we discuss the particular steps that have to be taken we ought to see this as part of the larger undertaking that we as Californians, as Nevadans, as Americans, as human beings have to embark upon. We are in a very exciting time—a lot of risk, a lot of danger. I think the Lake stands as a microcosm of the larger issues that we face as a people.
So I come today to join in these environmental discussions. To get to the practical point, we want to build stuff and we want to plan. If we plan too much we are never going to build anything. And if we build too much we are not going to have very good plans. So somehow we have to square that circle and we have to have the builders and the environmentalists—like the lion and the lamb—lie down together and somehow come up with a game plan that will keep Tahoe economically and environmentally sane, sound and sustainable. Thank you.” [audience applause]
Senator Dianne Feinstein: “Thank you very much. The plan that the Governor spoke of will be the Tahoe Regional Plan that is being done by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. It is due out the end of 2012. We all hold them to that deadline. As the Governor spoke, it is extraordinarily important that there be a road map (in order) that people have some certainty about what is going to happen with this Lake.”
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Regional Plan | The Tahoe Regional Planning Compact
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Regional Plan | Restoring Lake Tahoe while Creating Sustainable Communities
Sierra Sun | TRPA Forms Regional Plan Update Committee
Legal Planet | The Environmental Law and Policy Blog | A New Threat to Regional Government & Environmental Quality at Lake Tahoe
TAHOE PROJECT | California's Secretary Laird on Interstate Relations
The League to Save Lake Tahoe | Regional Plan