INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. -- The man who was there for the inaugural 1997 summit on America's most famous alpine lake returned this time around to point out the obvious: everyone love Lake Tahoe.
"Lake Tahoe is moving its feet," said Al Gore to a crowd gathered in drizzling conditions at Sand Harbor's outdoor amphitheater on Monday morning. "People here are active and working and getting involved."
As vice president, Gore and then President Bill Clinton convened the first summit on the health and future of Tahoe sixteen years ago. In this go round, he joined the governors of two states and its members of Congress to take the collective temperature of the lake and efforts to protect the clarity of its cobalt blue waters.
"Now is the time to renew our commitment, to go the rest of the way," said Gore.
Video: Gore Links Tahoe Fight to Global Warming Debate
But choosing which way to go has not been without controversy over the past couple of years.
Much of that controversy began in 2011, when Nevada state officials signaled they would pull out of the two state governing agreement that has overseen Tahoe environmental and development decisions since 1969. The dispute centered over that balance (or lack thereof) between building and protecting.
Fast forward to this past spring, when Gov. Jerry Brown stepped in and invited his Tahoe counterpart to discuss a way around the impasse -- and struck a deal that appeared to do just that.
Nevada's Sandoval helped convince the Silver State's lawmakers to scrap their plans to withdraw from the Tahoe compact, and Brown urged California lawmakers to approve changes to the document that sought a compromise on development issues near the lake.
That plan, Senate Bill 630, now sits in the state Assembly, where blocking its passage remains a priority of one of the nation's oldest environmental groups -- the Sierra Club.
"The shoreline would become heavily urbanized," said Laurel Ames of the Sierra Club's Tahoe coalition just after Monday's lake summit. "Lots of pavement. Lots of big buildings. And that's the future. And that doesn't protect the lake."
The environmental group is challenging the plan in court, and has accused California's governor of capitulating to Nevada development interests.
Brown, not surprisingly, disputes that characterization.
"I think this has been a good process," he told reporters after Monday's summit. "Being absolute perfect means you don't get anything done."
Tahoe also faces challenges when it comes to new federal funding. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-San Francisco, told the summit's audience that she's worried Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives won't approve her plan for $415 million over the next decade (PDF) for water and fire prevention projects.
Feinstein was joined in that assessment by the summit's main organizer, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, the Senate's majority leader.
Gov. Brown told the audience political leaders from both parties need to use "our cooperation muscles" in finding a common path for Lake Tahoe's future.
The compact he signed with Nevada's governor must pass the Legislature before it adjourns in a little more than three weeks.
John Myers | News10 Political Editor