Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert was elected Chairman of the Western Governors' Association (WGA) today. The Governor's primary focus and the overarching theme for his chairmanship is "Responsible Energy Development," with a goal of providing reliable, affordable and cleaner energy for the long term.
"This initiative recognizes the critical role the West will play in achieving energy independence. We can develop our wealth of energy sources--from traditional to renewable--in responsible ways that will stimulate the economy and promote security, while protecting our natural treasures and cherished quality of life," Herbert said.
The pillars of this initiative are:
. Energy education to ensure a realistic understanding of challenges and opportunities
. Energy efficiency and alternative fuels
. Improved transmission
. A greater role for states in energy policy
"We need an all-of-the-above approach, making appropriate use of all energy sources," Herbert said. "Coal reserves in the West are enormous, with western states providing more than half of the nation's coal. The potential for wind and solar in the West is practically unlimited. Additionally, both geothermal and biomass resources contribute to the region's energy portfolio and continue to grow in importance."
Governor Herbert will work with his colleagues, the private sector, tribal governments, universities, national labs, non-profit groups, federal and state agencies and other partners to identify and implement specific strategies for energy development in the West.
This may include developing an updated set of regional energy goals as part of a 10-year energy plan for the West for approval by the governors in June 2013.
This planning effort will continue WGA's work on regional transmission expansion for electricity, and may include recommendations on the expansion of markets for natural gas, including necessary pipeline infrastructure, and the development of refueling infrastructure to support increased use of natural gas as a transportation fuel.
WGA will also support efforts to increase electrification within the transportation sector, including development of enabling markets and infrastructure. Combined, these specific measures will support progress toward energy independence, economic development and advances in technology.
Governor Herbert added that, while energy will be his primary focus, WGA will also pursue its ongoing efforts on other issues important to western states, including healthcare, Medicaid reform, education, pension reform and economic development.
For more information about the WGA Annual Meeting, including reports and press releases, visit www.westgov.org.