Members of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) said Thursday that states can work collaboratively and individually to develop “a cogent, bipartisan national energy strategy.”
The governors agreed that they “would not leave to Washington, DC,” the job of developing an energy strategy when they Thursday at the Utah Energy Development Summit in Salt Lake City, hosted by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, current WGA chairman.
“The energy industry is a vital component of a strong and growing economy,” Herbert said at the opening of a two-day meeting that highlighted what governors are doing individually in states such as Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, Oklahoma and Wyoming. “Our ultimate goal is responsible, balanced development of the energy resources.”
WGA Executive Director James Ogsbury said the governors are each “stepping in to fill the power vacuum created by Washington gridlock. [Governors] can reach across the aisle and across state lines to develop sensible regional policy.”
Ogsbury cited Utah’s and Oregon’s 10-year energy plans as “balancing economic development objectives and critical environmental protection goals [see Daily GPI, Jan. 11].” He said that the governors are not waiting for the WGA’s own regional 10-year plan, but are “charging ahead” with initiatives that he thinks will improve the West’s energy landscape.
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead is developing an energy plan calling for streamlined energy regulation, according to Ogsbury, who also cited the collaborative push on natural gas vehicles by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Past WGA Chairman and Idaho Gov. Butch Otter directed the association to develop a policy paper on the future role of nuclear energy in the West, and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has established a renewable energy tax incentive program that is being administered by her energy policy office.
WGA officials view the western states as the nation’s “energy breadbasket,” Ogsbury said. Energy policy initiatives in the states can be job creators and a means of helping improve the nation’s economy, he said.
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