The National Governors Association (NGA) hit the nation's capital over the weekend with a decidedly green tint to their proceedings, and the western governors' branch of the national association announced a new push for alternative energy development and more fuel efficiency. NGA's winter meeting kicked off with its chairman, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, emphasizing an initiative he calls Securing a Clean Energy Future (SCEF).
Pawlenty called the opening NGA session Saturday a "rich and frank discussion" concentrating on the role states should play in shaping the nation's energy future. He unveiled a new initiative for the SCEF effort, and the formation of a public-private partnership between the governors' association and Wal-Mart.
The governors, according to Pawlenty, are searching for a new system to replace the 20th century model that provided inexpensive and easy-to-use energy for many decades. "Continued reliance on this system makes us vulnerable to unstable and sometimes hostile countries that control vast amounts of the world's energy resources and has created environmental concerns."
Separately, the Western Governors' Association (WGA) Saturday announced an agreement among its members to "take action within their states and as a region to speed the development and use of alternative fuels, improve vehicle fuel efficiency and reduce dependence on foreign petroleum."
Through the NGA partnership with Wall-Mart, the global retailing giant's in-house energy experts will conduct "clean energy audits" at state capitol facilities, with plans to visit up to 20 capitol complexes during the next two years. The goal is to identify enough energy efficiency improvements to "provide a return on investment within five years," the NGA said.
"The NGA Center for Best Practices will help identify states for participation and catalog the successes each state experiences," Pawlenty said.
NGA vice chair, Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell, said there is no "silver bullet" for solving the climate change challenge, "but when we add up all the steps states and individuals are taking across the country, we can begin to see the start of our energy revolution."
The western governors adopted a recommendations from a new report, "Transportation Fuels for the Future," that was compiled with the help of more than 100 energy experts from government, industry, the environmental community, academia and the general public. They looked at the relative pros and cons of eight fuels and technologies: biodiesel, renewable diesel, biofuels, coal-to-liquids, compressed natural gas, propane, electricity and hydrogen.
California Energy Commissioner James Boyd and Oklahoma Secretary of Energy David Fleischaker headed the development of the report over the past 10 months. They cited the nation's and western region's overdependence on petroleum in their transportation sectors as presenting "enormous risks" for energy security, the environment and ultimately the national economy.
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