Gov. Chris Gregoire was joined today by British Columbia Premier Christy Clark to announce Washington state and British Columbia concluded a series of agreements to strengthen their cross-border partnerships, attract investment and create new jobs.
"Building strong working partnerships, as Washington and British Columbia have done, make our region stronger, safer, and more competitive," said Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire. "Over the years, these collaborative efforts have led to quicker border crossings, upgraded rail service, and emergency preparedness. Today's meeting will have the same long-lasting impact that will help continue to help our economy, families, and environment."
"Over the past six years, Washington and British Columbia have built a relationship that is truly unique in North America," said B.C. Premier Christy Clark. The more that we talk to each other, the more we recognize our goals are the same: safe communities, a clean environment, and jobs to support families. And by working together, I'm very pleased we're able to agree on concrete, specific actions to help us reach our goals and better serve our citizens."
The 2012 Action Plan on Jobs maintains the strong Washington and British Columbia partnership on border management and cross-border infrastructure development to make the region more globally competitive while ensuring borders are safe and secure. As part of the Plan, Gregoire and Clark signed a joint letter to President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper commending the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border Action Plan and committing British Columbia and Washington to support and expedite federal commitments to improve the flow of people, goods and services across the border.
Other key features of the 2012 Action Plan on Jobs include:
*flowing from Washington State's New Energy Strategy announced in December and British Columbia's Natural Gas Strategy announced earlier this month, specific actions to better align and maximize opportunities for energy efficiency, clean transportation, and low carbon energy, including natural gas;
*developing a regional jobs and investment strategy to leverage "clean economy" opportunities across West Coast jurisdictions; and
*specific measures to enhance regional transportation coordination and efficiency, ranging from improved information sharing and analysis, to the Amtrak Cascade Corridor, to the identification of future border and highway infrastructure needs.
The meeting set the 2012 priorities for environmental cooperation, including preparation for the removal of Japan tsunami debris, and the governor and premier signed a proclamation celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Washington-British Columbia Environment Cooperation Agreement.
Other topics included joint emergency preparedness plans for major earthquakes and promoting the Pacific Northwest Emergency Management Agreement as a model for a broader North American Mutual Aid Agreement.
Since 2005, Washington state and B.C. have built a unique bi-lateral working relationship unlike any other Canada-U.S. interaction. This partnership has resulted in a number of mutual benefits including:
*The Enhanced Drivers' License travel document as well as additional, quicker border crossings with added NEXUS and FAST lanes;
*Technology improvements such as web-based public communications about border conditions;
*Considerable financial investment for roads and rail services including upgrading the rail line used by Amtrak trains through the B.C. lower mainland;
*Resources and support during emergencies through the Pacific Northwest Emergency Management Arrangement; and
*Formalized cross-border collaboration on preparation, response and recovery for public health emergencies, such as pandemic flu and the West Nile virus.