Obama praises Reid, Feinstein, Boxer during climate change speech in Nevada
August 31, 2016
During President Barack Obama's stop in Lake Tahoe, Nev., he talked about the importance of the issues of climate change and food production, but from the president's remarks released by the White House today, the primary purpose of the trip appeared to be praise for retiring Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who has served as Senate majority leader and minority leader during Obama's presidency.
"Harry grew up in a town that didn't have much," Obama said. "No high school, no doctor's office. Searchlight [Nev.] sure didn't have much grass to mow or many trees to climb. It didn't look like this.
"So when Harry discovered a lush desert oasis down the road called Piute Spring, he fell in love. And when Harry met Landra, the love of his life, he couldn't wait to take her there.
"But when he got to the green spring that Harry remembered, he was devastated to see that the place had been trashed. And that day, Harry became an environmentalist — and he's been working hard ever since to preserve the natural gifts of Nevada and these United States of America.
"So Harry has protected fish and wildlife across the state. He helped to end a century-old water war. He created Nevada's first and only national park.
"Right after I took office, the very first act Harry's Senate passed was one of the most important conservation efforts in a generation. We protected more than 2 million acres of wilderness and thousands of miles of trails and rivers. That was because of Harry Reid.
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"Last summer, thanks to Harry Reid's leadership, we protected more than 700,000 acres of mountains and valleys right here in Nevada, establishing the Basin and Range National Monument.
"Two decades ago, the senator from Searchlight trained a national spotlight right here, on Lake Tahoe. And as he prepares to ride off into the sunset — although I don't want him getting on a horse — this 20th anniversary summit proves that the light Harry lit shines as bright as ever."
As someone in the audience shouted to Obama, "We love you," Obama managed to connect the movie "Godfather II" and the Washoe Native American tribe in almost the same paragraph.
Obama said he would travel back to Lake Tahoe as a private citizen "not just because I love you back. Not just because 'The Godfather II' is maybe my favorite movie. As I was flying over the lake, I was thinking about Fredo. He's tough. But this place is spectacular because it is one of the highest, deepest, oldest and purest lakes in the world. It's been written that the lake's waters were once so clear that when you were out on a boat, you felt like you were floating in a balloon. Unless you were Fredo. It's been written that the air here is so fine, it must be 'the same air that the angels breathe."
"So it's no wonder that for thousands of years, this place has been a spiritual one. For the Washoe people, it is the center of their world. And just as this space is sacred to Native Americans, it should be sacred to all Americans.
"And that's why we're here: To protect this pristine place. To keep these waters crystal clear. To keep the air as pure as the heavens. To keep alive Tahoe's spirit. And to keep faith with this truth — that the challenges of conservation and combatting climate change are connected, they're linked.
"As a former Washoe Tribe leader once said, 'The health of the land and the health of the people are tied together, and what happens to the land also happens to the people,'" Obama said.
Obama also said that the prevention of wildfires is particularly important "because of the severe drought that all of you know and you can see with your own eyes."
"A single wildfire in a dangerously flammable Lake Tahoe Basin could cause enough erosion to erase decades of progress when it comes to water quality. And the drought also endangers one of the epicenters of the world's food production in California."
Obama also praised Reid for helping "make the single largest investment in renewable energy in our history."
"[Sen.] Dianne Feinstein and [Sen.] Barbara Boxer have been at the forefront of this. [Gov.] Jerry Brown has been doing incredible legislative work in his state. These investments have helped drive down the cost of clean power, so it's finally cheaper than dirty power in a lot of places. It helps us multiply wind power threefold; solar power more than thirtyfold. It's created tens of thousands of good jobs. It's adding to paychecks, subtracting from energy bills. It's been the smart and right thing to do."
ABC News noted that Reid had persuaded then-President Bill Clinton to host the first Tahoe Summit in 1997.
Other speakers at the event include Boxer, D-Calif., Feinstein, D-Calif. and Brown, also a Democrat.
Obama noted that he was continuing on to Hawaii where the United States will host the World Conservation Congress for the first time and will also visit Midway atoll.
–The Hagstrom Report