Al Gore: Tahoe Preservation Efforts Can Inspire The World

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For two days in August of 1997, the world's attention turned to the environmental concerns of Lake Tahoe.

Political leaders, residents, scientists, environmentalists and the media gathered on the shore to talk about its past, present and future. Then

President Clinton and Vice President Gore spent some time on the lake learning about its declining clarity. Our coverage included a live report demonstrating that lost clarity from under its surface.

By then from both viewpoints more than a century of development had had its effect, but the first Tahoe Summit produced more than a photo op. It concluded with the president signing the Tahoe Preservation Act, committing the power of the federal government to preserving the lake.

The man who brought the president to the lake says it began with a call to the Vice President.

"It could have never happened without him," said Nevada's Senator Harry Reid. "I admire and appreciate all that President Clinton did to support what we did hear, but as he said, Gore was the quarterback."

Sixteen years and $1.8 billion dollars later, the lake and the surrounding environment have seen a turnaround.

Those same years have seen the former Vice President emerge as an international leader on the environment, particularly on climate change.

Returning to Tahoe as this year's keynote speaker, he was expected to focus on his signature issue and did.

Those working to preserve the lake he said could show the way.

"Tahoe is ahead of the curve," Gore said. "If the communities around this lake can find a way to become sustainable, not just in name only, not just with a label, not with just a few efforts, but truly and genuinely sustainable, then the Lake Tahoe community can become even more important in inspiring the world."