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LETTER: Governors seek to participate in work on Executive Order, "Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda"

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Western Governors reached out on April 19, 2017, to leadership of the Department of the Interior, Army Corps of Engineers and Department of Agriculture in regards to President Trump’s Executive Order, "Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda," which requires federal agencies to critically examine their regulatory processes. In particular, the Governors appreciate the order's explicit requirement that federal agencies seek input and assistance from states, and request the opportunity to participate in the regulatory reform review.

LETTER: Full funding sought for Payment in Lieu of Taxes, Secure Rural Schools programs

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Western Governors on March 16, 2017, sent letters to House and Senate Appropriations leadership requesting their "active support and full funding" of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes and Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act programs for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2017 and throughout Fiscal Year 2018. Western Governors have long advocated that the federal government must fulfill its obligation to fund these programs for rural counties that rely on them to provide necessary government services to their citizens.

LETTER: Western Governors express concern over EPA tightening of national ozone standard

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Western Governors sent a letter on Aug. 11, 2016, to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy; Office of Management and Budget Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Dr. Howard A. Shelanski; and Assistant to the President and Senior White House Adviser Brian C. Deese. The letter expressed concern regarding final revisions to EPA's Exceptional Events Rule, which is now undergoing White House review. The governors contend that EPA's decision to lower the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone will throw areas in the West into non-attainment status owing to factors outside state control. 

TESTIMONY: Appropriations Subcommittees on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies

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James D. Ogsbury, Executive Director of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), submitted written testimony on March 17, 2016, on behalf of the WGA to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. The testimony provided comment on the appropriations and activities of the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and Environmental Protection Agency.

COMMENTS: FEMA Individual Assistance for Major Disasters

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Western Governors sent comments on Jan. 8, 2016, to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on the proposed rule on Factors Considered When Evaluating a Governor’s Request for Individual Assistance for a Major Disaster. The Governors urged the Agency to reconsider the system for evaluating and providing access to disaster programs and make Individual Assistance more readily accessible to homeowners affected by wildfires and other types of major disasters that are increasingly affecting Western states. The comments also noted, "FEMA should work directly with states and territories to jointly identify state’s or territory’s individual and common disaster risks and needs, and the best ways for determining the necessity and provision of federal disaster assistance."

LETTER: Surface Transportation Board and Positive Train Control

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Western Governors sent a letter on Oct. 15, 2015, to House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure leadership to reiterate support for reauthorization and reform of the Surface Transportation Board. The Governors also expressed concern about the looming deadline for implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) and urged Congress to pass an extension of the PTC implementation deadline that includes clear performance metrics for the railroads. The letter noted: "Jobs, the economy and the quality of life depend on high quality transportation infrastructure to safely move goods and people. Transportation infrastructure in the West is strained by increased movement of goods and people as well as by underinvestment in new and existing infrastructure needed to keep pace with growth and change."

LETTER: Clean Air Act Exceptional Events Rule

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Western Governors sent a letter on Aug 27, 2015, to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy to request that EPA engage in substantive consultation with states in the pre-proposal stages of revisions to the Clean Air Act (CAA) Exceptional Events Rule. The letter explained, "Western Governors and air regulators from WGA states are concerned that the Exceptional Events Rule does not adequately address factors over which states have little or no control." The governors cited naturally-occurring events outside the control of states such as wildfire, high winds and volcanic activity that present challenges to meeting the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for criteria pollutants under the CAA. 

LETTER: Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2015

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Western Governors sent a letter on Aug 21, 2015, to leadership in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to request expedited consideration of the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2015. The letter cited previous outreach by the Governors that noted "the actions of the Surface Transportation Board have significant impact on the economies of all states and on commerce. The governors also called attention to WGA Policy Resolution 2015-05: Transportation Infrastructure in the Western United States and urged the committee to work to pass the legislation.

LETTER: Governors encourage passage of Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2015

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Western Governors sent a letter on May 27, 2015, to leadership in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to encourage the passage of the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2015. The letter noted that Western states’ economies are greatly impacted by the movement of commodities by rail and supported a strong and independent Surface Transportation Board. The governors explained: "Reauthorization of the Board is overdue. Making it an independent board with broader membership and greater transparency will benefit both shippers and the public as competing commodities place heavy demands on the rail system."

TESTIMONY: Western Governors' Association to Senate Appropriations

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The Western Governors’ Association (WGA) submitted the testimony of James D. Ogsbury, WGA Executive Director, on April 16, 2015, on behalf of the Western Governors to the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. The testimony provided comment on the appropriations and activities of the Bureau of Land Management , U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and Environmental Protection Agency.

TESTIMONY: James D. Ogsbury, WGA Executive Director, before House Interior Appropriations

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James D. Ogsbury, Executive Director of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), testified on March 18, 2015, on behalf of the WGA before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. The testimony provided comment on the appropriations and activities of the Bureau of Land Management , U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and Environmental Protection Agency.

COMMENTS: Governors submit comments on proposed adjustment to National Ambient Air Quality Standard

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Western Governors sent comments on March 17, 2015, to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that urged the agency to take a balanced, holistic approach in determining whether or not to adjust the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). The Governors note in their comments that should EPA seek to establish a stricter NAAQS for ground-level ozone, implementation in the West would require a better understanding of the role contributory factors – including factors unique to the region – play in this process.

LETTER: Governors urge FCC to ensure spectrum auction does not disenfranchise any American

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Western Governors sent a letter on March 10, 2015, to members of the Federal Communications Commission in support of free, over-the-air reception of television broadcasts for all Americans. The Governors also urged the FCC to ensure that a planned spectrum auction does not disenfranchise any American by leaving them without access to news, weather, emergency messages, arts and entertainment programming accessible through free over-the air broadcast signals.

LETTER: Governors request reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools program

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Western Governors sent a letter on Feb. 21, 2015, to House and Senate leadership requesting reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act. The governors emphasized the importance of this program as it "provides essential funding to timber-dependent counties to provide necessary government services to their citizens."

LETTER: Governors seek conclusion to contract talks hobbling West Coast ports

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Western Governors sent a letter on Feb. 18, 2015, requesting that representatives of the International Longshore Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association immediately conclude contract negotiations that had dragged on for some nine months.  As western states are reliant on West Coast ports for the export of goods and merchandise, the protracted negoatiation was damaging states’ industries.

LETTER: Governors support full funding for PILT and Secure Rural Schools programs

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Western Governors sent a letter on Nov. 12, 2014, to House and Senate leadership requesting full funding of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes and the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act programs for Fiscal Year 2015. The governors asserted that "the federal government must fulfill its longstanding obligation to fund these programs for rural counties with tax exempt federal lands and for timber-dependent counties that rely on this funding to provide necessary government services to their citizens."

TESTIMONY: U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation

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James D. Ogsbury, Executive Director of the Western Governors’ Association, testified on July 9, 2014 before the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation. The testimony shared the perspective of the Western Governors regarding the challenge of invasive species, which constitutes a critical problem throughout the West. The testomony cited the enormous economic damage caused by invasive species and also explained how they exacerbate many of the West's other great resource challenges. Ogsbury urged, "Federal agencies own and manage more than 40 percent of the land in the West. Their leadership and partnership with states is essential to effectively address this problem."

TESTIMONY: Interior Appropriations

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James D. Ogsbury, Executive Director of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), testified on May 23, 2014 on behalf of the Western Governors before the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. The testimony provided comment on the appropriations and activities of the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and Environmental Protection Agency. Ogsbury noted, "These federal agencies have rich potential to supplement state efforts or impinge on state authority. They can exercise vital leadership or they can interfere with well-managed state activities. Accordingly, it is critical that state and federal agencies develop and maintain positive and cooperative working relationships."

TESTIMONY: WGA Executive Director testifies before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies

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James D. Ogsbury, Executive Director of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), testified on April 10, 2014, on behalf of the Western Governors before the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. The testimony shared the Western Governors' views on Interior and Environment related appropriations affecting federal lands in the West. Ogsbury emphasized the crucial role of the states in these matters, noting, "As you consider appropriations and policy directives for federal agencies, Western Governors urge you to take cognizance of states’ authority in resource management and their potential to enhance the delivery of government services and protections to our citizens."

LETTER: Funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Program

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Western Governors sent letters on Jan. 21, 2014, to the House and Senate leadership expressing their strong support for providing full funding the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program in the Farm Bill currently in conference. The letters urged, "Congress must provide a way for local governments located in areas with a high percentage of federal lands to provide basic services despite the lack of a tax base. Counties with federal land in their jurisdictions often provide vital services on those lands, such as solid waste management, search and rescue, and emergency medical services."

LETTER -- Governors and county leaders urge funding for Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program

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The Western Governors' Association and the National Association of Counties sent a joint letter on Dec. 20, 2013, to the leadership of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees requesting the Committees fully support the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program which provides critical funding to nearly 1,900 counties in 49 states and three U.S. territories. The letter urged recipients to consider the economic hardship that states and counties across the nation will face if the PILT program is not given consistent funding.

LETTER: Support for legislation to create a demonstration project for competency-based education

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The Western Governors' Association sent a letter on Oct. 7, 2013, to leadership of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce supporting bipartisan legislation to create a higher education demonstration project for competency-based education. The letter explained, "Competency-based education offers significant potential for delivering high quality education to millions of Americans who want to pursue a college degree. It promises substantial benefits for all students, because it allows them to study and learn at their own pace."

LETTER: Governors urge action on Farm Bill

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Western Governors sent letters on Sept. 27, 2013, to the House and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairs urging swift completion of the Farm Bill. The letters advised focusing "on crafting an agreement that strengthens local farm families and communities, including programs for all agricultural working lands, forests and rangelands." The Western Governors also offered their input on several specific provisions and attached their relevant policy resolutions.

LETTER: Governors support streamlining infrastructure permitting

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Western Governors sent a letter on June 30, 2013, to White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley recommending coordination of federal and state infrastructure permitting and expressing appreciation for President Obama’s Memorandum: Transforming our Nation’s Electric Grid Through Improved Siting, Permitting and Review. The governors wrote, "We believe the effort of designating and developing Western energy corridors and streamlining permitting, review and siting is improved if states are included as equal partners."

TESTIMONY: House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation

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James D. Ogsbury, Executive Director of the Western Governors’ Association, testified on May 16, 2013, before the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation at an oversight hearing on invasive species. The testimony shared the perspective of the Western Governors regarding the insidious problem of invasive species, which poses a serious and growing threat to the region. The testimony included an overview of the wide-ranging consequences of invasive species and also specific threats such as aquatic mussels and cheatgrass.

LETTER: Budget Control Act of 2011

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Western Governors sent a letter on May 14, 2013, to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to express their deep concern regarding the USDA's implementation of the Budget Control Act of 2011, with relation to important resources that have already been provided to their states. The governors were alarmed by Department of Interior and USDA decisions to sequester FY2012 funds due to Western states, specifically mineral royalties and Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act payments.

LETTER: Governors support funding for SRS and PILT

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Western Governors sent a letter on May 14, 2012, to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to highlight support for the one-year reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act and the one-year of full funding for the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program. The governors emphasized, "Secure Rural Schools and PILT are absolutely necessary in keeping our rural communities economically stable and able to provide crucial public services like roads, firefighting and search-and-rescue operations." 

LETTER: National Travel and Tourism Strategy

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Western Governors sent a letter on Mar. 13, 2012, to Commerce Secretary John Bryson and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in support of comments the Western States Tourism Policy Council submitted to the Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness on the development of a National Travel and Tourism Strategy. The Governors called the Council’s comments informative and praised them for focusing on strategies for enhancing the capacity of federal lands to increase tourism related travel and provide jobs and income in neighboring rural communities. 

LETTER: Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation

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Western Governors sent a letter on Feb. 16, 2012, to Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey, chairman of the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation (FICOR), to applaud the federal government’s efforts to coordinate recreation policies, programs and procedures. The Governors noted that FICOR has a historic opportunity to break away from “business as usual” and break down traditional stovepipes that frustrate citizens who want to enjoy the nation’s public and private lands for recreation. The letter emphasized: "We should set a goal to work toward a seamless system that integrates federal and state information, permitting, and requirements through joint portals based upon geographic location." 

LETTER: Governors higlight visa and foreign-visitor processing, travel and tourism

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Western Governors sent a letter on Feb. 7, 2012, to President Barack Obama regarding his Executive Order establishing visa and foreign-visitor processing goals and a task force on travel and competitiveness. The Governors encouraged the President to add critical Western issues to the list of actions he tasked the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to explore in developing the implementation plan.