The praise from the West was loud and strong Wednesday in support of President-elect Obama’s energy and environment team. The Western Governors’ Association (WGA) pledged to work closely with team members, and San Francisco-based Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) said the selections indicated an “ambitious and important agenda.”

The governors sent a four-page letter to the president-elect in late November detailing a list of energy policy goals following a multi-year initiative the WGA has been pursuing for its region to more closely tie energy, environmental and economic development planning and performance.

PG&E CEO Peter Darbee, who has made a response to climate change a primary focus of his utility, said the newly designated Obama team “brings together an impressive depth of experience and expertise, combined with the vision needed to ensure the United States is a leader on critical issues like climate change.”

“At no time in history have these positions been more important to our nation, our economy and our people,” said Utah Gov. and WGA Chairman Jon Huntsman. “The Western governors presented President-elect Obama with recommendations for transforming the country’s energy infrastructure and economy, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The change we are talking about is broad-based and will require new policies, incentives, market mechanisms, private-public partnerships and a consensus among political leaders.”

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer called the West “the country’s energy breadbasket,” noting that much of the nation’s onshore fossil fuels, the majority of solar thermal and geothermal generation and most wind generation is located in the western region. “We have urged swift action on a national energy plan, and the West is ready to assist the new president and his team,” he said.

“We believe that the United States has the ability to be the world leader in developing and implementing the innovative technologies that will be necessary to meet our energy challenge,” WGA’s leaders told Obama in a Nov. 20 letter. “However, the scale of the effort that will be required is enormous.”

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