Western Governors approve policy resolutions
Western Governors formally approved 12 policy resolutions on topics such as workforce development, international trade, and western infrastructure at the 2018 Annual Meeting in Rapid City, South Dakota. The policy resolutions formally approved include:
Western states, which face unique air quality challenges, have the authority to manage air quality within their borders. This resolution, which updates and combines previous resolutions, provides recommendations to improve the state-federal relationship in the regulation of air quality and methane emissions, ozone regulation, exceptional events, regional haze, and wildfire and prescribed fire. The Governors, for example, advocate for improved tools that encourage the use of prescribed fire, which is managed as part of state air quality programs, to reduce the air quality impacts of uncharacteristic wildfire in the West.
New multimodal systems, including high-speed passenger rail and transit systems, are important to the West’s transportation infrastructure. This updated resolution emphasizes the importance of a long-term federal funding mechanism for the maintenance and expansion of surface transportation networks.
Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) contributes to our nation’s energy and fiscal security by reducing dependence on foreign oil. It provides a long-term path for low-carbon use of our nation’s coal and oil resources and transforms carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into a valuable commodity. This updated resolution elaborates on the principles first passed by the Governors in 2015, including increasing CO2 capture at power plants and allowing states to tailor the regulation of EOR to their individual economies, industries, and needs.
Governors reassert in this renewed resolution that states have primary authority over water management and allocation, and that federal investment is critical to water infrastructure needs. This updated resolution also highlights Governors’ encouragement of effective partnerships between state, federal, tribal, and local governments; reliable and up-to-date water resource information; and drought preparedness and response.
Western Governors support building on the 1970 Mining and Minerals Policy Act with legislation and policies that unlock our mineral potential and ensure access to metals critical to U.S. economic and national security, in part by addressing the critical issue of permitting delays and the timely processing of mining permit applications. This updated resolution also incorporates language on the state-federal relationship during mine permitting processes.
Western Governors’ support the U.S. Department of Energy’s safe and uneventful transport of radioactive materials, accomplished through DOE’s ongoing compliance with federal radioactive waste transport safety requirements and early coordination and effective communication with state, tribal and local governments. This resolution, which consolidates previous WGA policies, also affirms that no radioactive waste storage or disposal facility should be located within the geographic boundaries of a western state or U.S. territory without the written consent of the Governor.
Western Governors call on Congress to protect “Good Samaritans” that voluntarily clean up abandoned mines from potential liability under the Clean Water Act, CERCLA, and RCRA. This updated resolution enunciates the Governors’ support for pilot projects if comprehensive legislation is not possible and provides recommendations for Good Samaritan remediation plans, permitting, reviews, and approvals that will facilitate the voluntary cleanup of abandoned mines.
Western Governors call on the federal government in this updated resolution to provide adequate funding and tools to assist states’ compliance with federal water quality and drinking water requirements and for federal deference to states’ primary authority over water management and allocation within their borders.
Western Governors, based on the findings and recommendations of the Western Governors’ 2017-18 Workforce Development Initiative, encourage better alignment among workforce development, career and technical education, and higher education programs. Governors also emphasize the need to support and expand pathways that students, working adults, and jobseekers can take to a successful career, including short-term education and training programs and work-based learning programs such as apprenticeships.
The Energy Vision for the West illustrates that Western Governors have coalesced around common issues and specific goals and recognizes there are challenges and opportunities associated with every type of energy resource and use. This updated regional policy, which works in concert with Policy Resolution 2018-04: Energy in the West, is a guide for realizing opportunities to advance the West as the nation’s principal energy provider and a leader in energy innovation and effective policy. The 10 Year Energy Vision was updated in June 2018.
International trade, particularly with Canada and Mexico, is a crucial economic driver in Western states. Western Governors emphasize the need for stable and predictable international trade policies. This resolution recognizes the need to modernize multi-lateral trade agreements, such as NAFTA, but urges that any final changes not impede citizens’ ability to compete in global markets or harm our overall economic competitiveness.
Western Governors support more efficient infrastructure permitting and environmental review processes without shortening timelines for state input and consultation or compromising natural resource, environmental, or cultural values. Early, meaningful and ongoing state consultation on infrastructure will help prevent delays, reduce duplication, and streamline the process. The Governors also recommend that the federal government encourage joint National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews with states; improve the cooperating agency approval process; and work directly with states to use up-to-date state data and analyses in the NEPA process.
Western Governors enact new policy resolutions and amend existing resolutions on a bi-annual basis. All of WGA’s current resolutions can be found on our Resolutions Page.
To learn about what happened at the 2018 WGA Annual Meeting, check out the daily recaps (below); and if you are interested in learning more about the upcoming Chairman’s initiative, The Western Governors’ Biosecurity and Invasive Species Initiative, on July 12 =th, please visit: http://westgov.org/news/wga-chair-hawaii-gov.-david-ige-announces-biosecurity-and-invasive-species-initiative-july-12-webinar/
The Western Governors’ Association represents the Governors of 19 Western states and 3 U.S.-flag islands. The association is an instrument of the Governors for bipartisan policy development, information exchange and collective action on issues of critical importance to the Western U.S.