A bipartisan group of governors from 17 states on Tuesday announced the formation of a clean energy accord that they see as a multi-state economic development tool.

In a conference call, Govs. Brian Sandoval (NV), Jay Inslee (WA) and Jerry Brown (CA) kicked off the start of a “Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future” as a joint commitment to push cleaner energy, alternative fuel transportation and a modernized transmission grid system.

“This is a bipartisan effort to come together to advance clean energy in the states, and that is where we know that real progress is being made,” Inslee said.

“Our goal is to clean up the air and protect our natural resources,” Brown said.

In response to a question from NGI on whether fossil fuel policy will be considered in future initiatives among the states, Inslee said the initiative, which he called “a work in progress,” doesn’t address that topic.

“Anything that cleans the whole energy infrastructure and that we can work on together is important, so reduction of methane emissions from the production of fossil fuels is clearly an important goal,” Inslee said. “We’re interested in anything that brings efficiency or health benefits to any part of the energy world.”

Brown said that methane contributes to smog and air pollution, so “locking down the emissions from wells and pipelines are all good things.” In California, air regulators are looking at methane closely from a traditional air pollution perspective, he said.

Both Sandoval and Inslee emphasized that in recent years, the development of clean energy products has had a multi-billion-dollar impact on their state economies — $4.3 billion in Nevada and more than $8 billion in Washington.

Sandoval said the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which has drawn Supreme Court action and much partisan political discourse (see Daily GPI, Feb. 10) is not included in the new accord, but it is certain to gain a lot of discussion at the National Governors’ Association conference that convenes this week in Washington, DC.

“Nevada, for the most part, complies with the CPP, so we feel we are in a pretty good position regarding that, and we are going to keep moving forward,” Sandoval said.

Brown said that “the whole genius of this accord is that we are bringing together governors of a whole lot of different philosophies, so the accord is just talking about clean energy, renewables, and grid efficiency — all powerful and important issues.

“Other issues regarding the Obama administration’s rules on clean air or global warming are not a part of this agreement, and the reason why is that we think we can make major steps forward and bypass all of the bickering in Washington and the very toxic partisanship by working on what we can agree upon in this accord,” Brown said. “Does the accord do everything? No, but nothing ever does in politics.”

In addition to California, Nevada and Washington, the accord was signed by governors representing Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.