Increased interstate cooperative projects on everything from bigger oil production to modernization of the natural gas pipeline infrastructure are all part of a 10-year energy plan unveiled Sunday by the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) at the conclusion of its three-day annual meeting in Park City, UT.

The plan also dips into the areas of greenhouse gas reductions, efficiency advances and water-conserving technology development. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, the current WGA chairman, said the plan was the result of “bipartisan cooperation,” and he predicted it would be the first step toward “a blueprint for the entire country.”

Herbert touted the plan as promoting both economic growth and environmental protection, and he said his hope was that Congress and the Obama administration will “follow this [WGA] example.”

WGA’s meetings on Sunday were focused on energy with presentations by Bob Perciasepe, acting administrator at the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Dan Poneman, a deputy secretary in the Department of Energy (DOE). This prompted discussion of President Obama’s climate change address earlier in the week, drawing concerns from Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead about coal’s future given the president’s remarks.

Poneman agreed with Mead on coal’s importance to the nation, noting that DOE had about $6 billion in funding to clean coal programs involving advances in carbon capture and storage technology.

WGA’s vision is supported by two other recently published documents — a compilation of individual perspectives by most of the 19 western governors, three heads of Canadian provinces (Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan) and three governors of American territories (Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa), along with a detailed summary of energy resources in the West.

The plan articulated six goals, ranging from energy security to making the West a global leader in energy education and development.

One of the six goals is to increase energy productivity involving natural gas and electricity, and a second one identifies the need to “ensure energy is clean, affordable and reliable by providing a balanced portfolio of renewable, nontraditional and traditional resources.”

American Gas Association (AGA) CEO Dave McCurdy said the WGA plan is a “smart” way to improve “the way we consume energy,” and he thinks it will help boost economic and environmental improvements around the nation. “We join them [the western governors] in their call for efficient use of natural gas through continued upgrades to our natural gas infrastructure.”

McCurdy committed the nation’s natural gas utilities to being a partner in the WGA’s “all of the above” approach to future energy development.

“WGA governors believe that resources should compete freely in the marketplace, but based on the policies and needs of its member states,” the introduction to the six goals said. The vision also emphasizes the development of “an effective and genuine” federal-state partnership in energy development.

The vision, backed up by the longer summary of the West’s rich and varied energy resources, makes a case for the western states being an important cog in the United States achieving energy security. “The governors believe this regional vision can serve as a blueprint to guide a national energy policy that promotes economic growth while protecting our valued natural and environmental resources,” the plan said.

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