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Letters/Testimony

LETTER: Support for reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act

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Western Governors sent a letter on Oct. 18, 2013, to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee supporting reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The letter emphasized the distinction between Western and Eastern water concerns and noted, "The responsible development and management of water resources is particularly critical for Western states. Our region routinely faces both scarcity issues...and very real flood management challenges."

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 offer CEQ help reviewing Section 368 transmission corridors

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Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock sent a letter on Oct. 4, 2013, to Nancy Sutley, Chair of the President's Council on Environmental Quality, offering to collaborate with federal agencies in the review and re-designation of the “Section 368” Western energy corridors. The letter stated: "We stand ready to work with federal agencies to define corridors that will not only address the concerns raised by environmental plaintiffs regarding the original Section 368 corridor designation process, but also address states’ land use requirements, growth priorities and long-term energy planning needs."

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 thank sponsors of legislation to clean up abandoned mines

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Western Governors sent letters to Senator Mark Udall and Representative Scott Tipton to express support for the Good Samaritan Cleanup of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act of 2013 legislation that they sponsored. The governors wrote, "Western Governors have long advocated shielding from liability state agencies, non-profit groups and industry acting as Good Samaritans in the voluntary cleanup of abandoned mine sites. Thank you for your championship of this critical issue"

LETTER: Governors on proposed hydraulic fracturing rule

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Western Governors sent a letter on Aug. 23, 2013, to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to provide their input on the Bureau of Land Management's proposed rule, "Oil and Gas; Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands." The governors expressed that the states, territories, and flag islands have effectively regulated the practice of hydraulic fracturing and redundant federal regulation is not required. The letter explained, "Because there are often profound differences in geology, ecology, hydrology and meteorology, the states are best equipped to design, administer and enforce laws and regulations related to oil and gas development."

LETTER: WGA requests information and action on forest health

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The Western Governors' Association sent a letter on Aug. 23, 2013, to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack emphasizing the Governors' concerns that federal forest lands throughout the region are facing serious environmental stress affecting the health and vitality of Western ecosystems. The letter also reiterated the Governors' request for specific information on the Forest Service's plans in Western forests to reduce wildfire threats. The letter urged, "These forests are overgrown; they exhibit all the symptoms of an unhealthy ecosystem; and they demand urgent attention."

LETTER: Army Corps of Engineers' surplus water rulemaking

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The Western Governors' Association sent a letter on Aug. 21, 2013, to Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy expressing Western Governors' interest and concerns related to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' pending rulemaking on the definition and treatment of surplus water in Corps reservoirs. The letter explained, "It is critical that this important undertaking recognize the West’s unique hydrology and legal doctrines, as well as Congress’ longstanding deference to state law with respect to the allocation and use of water. Water belongs to the states, which have exclusive and Constitutional authority over its consumptive use and the allocation and adjudication of water rights."

LETTER: WGA support for Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act

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The Western Governors' Association sent a letter on July 26, 2013, to Representative Cory Gardner expressing Western Governors' support for legislation he introduced, the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act (H.R. 2279). The legislation intends to restrict Environmental Protection Agency rulemaking that might duplicate or pre-empt existing state programs. The letter focused on issues that the Western states have faced on this matter in regards to hard rock mining.

LETTER: Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

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The Western Governors' Association sent a letter on July 24, 2013, to Interior Assistant Secretary Rhea Suh expressing concern about committing states to federal Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative accounting, reporting and auditing requirements. The letter expressed a number of state concerns, including, "the appropriateness of states participating in an international reporting initiative given their unique status as sovereign governments."

LETTER: WGA supports reauthorization of National Integrated Drought Information System

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The Western Governors' Association (WGA) sent letters on July, 23, 2013, to sponsors of a bill to reauthorize the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). Western Governors promoted the creation of NIDIS in 2006, and WGA has since worked with partners to champion the system’s deployment. The letter explained, "Drought contributes to forest and rangeland fires, degrades growing conditions for farmers, and poses threats to municipal and industrial water supplies. NIDIS provides the kind of authoritative, objective and timely drought information that farmers, water managers, decision-makers, and local governments require to prepare for and respond to drought."

LETTER: Protecting Lakes Against Quaggas Act of 2013

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The Western Governors' Association sent a letter on July 18, 2013, to co-sponsors of the "Protecting Lakes Against Quaggas Act of 2013" to express support for the measure that would add quagga mussels to the national list of invasive species covered under the Lacey Act. The letter called the measure a common-sense approach, and noted it would "invest federal and state authorities with an important tool for containing and eradicating quagga mussels by providing for increased inspections of boats crossing state lines."

LETTER: Federal Lands Transfer Facilitation Act

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The Western Governors' Association (WGA) sent letters on July 17, 2013, to House Natural Resources Committee and Public Lands Subcommittee leadership conveying Western Governors' support for land exchange legislation. The letter referenced a WGA policy resolution that supports reauthorization of the Federal Lands Transfer Facilitation Act and WGA's other efforts to reform federal-state land exchange processes.

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 reauthorization of National Integrated Drought Information System

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Western Governors sent a letter on May 9, 2013, to Congressional leaders to express support for the Drought Information Act of 2013, which would reauthorize the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). The governors emphasized the significant impacts that drought has on life in the West, including forest and rangeland fires, shortages agricultural products, and threats to municipal water supplies. The letter explained, "NIDIS provides authoritative, objective, and timely information about drought that farmers, water managers, decision makers, and local governments need in order to prepare for and respond to drought."

LETTER: Governors support reauthorization of Water Resources Development Act

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Western Governors sent a letter on May 7, 2013, to leadership of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works to commend their work in advancing legislation to reauthorize of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The letter explained, "Whether for drought, flooding, or simply general allocation, proper water management is essential. WGA believes reauthorization of WRDA is critically important to the West in managing all of those issues."

TESTIMONY: Exploring the Effects of Drought on Energy and Water Management

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James D. Ogsbury, Executive Director of the Western Governors’ Association, testified on Apr. 25, 2013, before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources at the hearing, "Exploring the Effects of Drought on Energy and Water Management." The testimony shared the perspective of the Western Governors regarding drought preparedness and monitoring and urged the reauthoriztion of the National Integrated Drought Information System. The testimony also included an overview of drought's effects on energy and water management.

LETTER: WGA and WSWC support hydropower legislation

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The Western Governors' Association and the Western States Water Council sent a letter on April 22, 2013 to leadership of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The letter was written to support the goals of the Hydropower Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 545), the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 (H.R. 267), and the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act (S. 306/H.R. 678), which aim to increase the development of small hydropower projects.

TESTIMONY: State Wildlife Data and Its Use by Federal Land Management Agencies

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James D. Ogsbury, Executive Director of the Western Governors’ Association, testified on Apr. 17, 2013, before the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. The testimony shared the perspective of the Western Governors on state wildlife data and its use by federal land management agencies. The testimony included an overview of the soon-to-be-released Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT) that will compile compatible information from 17 states to display a regional picture of habitat for multiple species of fish and wildlife and corridors that support these species.

LETTER: Governors support sound forest management policies that maintain ecological balance

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Western Governors sent a letter on Apr. 16, 2013, to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack to express concerns that federal forest lands throughout the West are experiencing serious environmental stresses that affect the health and vitality of these ecosystems. The letter urged, "Now is the time for the U.S. Forest Service to accelerate its efforts to promote sound forest management policies that maintain ecological balance." The governors acknowledged the financial challenges involved in such an endeavor, and suggested that engaging the forest products industry as a partner can help alleviate some of these challenges.

LETTER: Governors support Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act

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Western Governors sent a letter on Mar. 26, 2013, to sponsors of the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act to express their support for sharing with states and counties renewable energy royalty revenues from federal lands. The letter explained, "We support the development of a leasing system for renewable energy that returns a portion of royalty revenues to the states and counties because they incur additional staff time and capital costs from permitting and siting this type of development."

LETTER: Governors urge stronger federal invasive species management legislation

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Western Governors sent a letter on Feb. 25, 2013, to Congressional leadership requesting support of federal invasive species management legislation that ensures a more focused and streamlined federal approach and provides opportunities for collaboration with states. The letter emphasized, "Successful prevention and treatment of invasive species infestations across the West and Pacific Islands requires a cooperative effort among all levels of government, the private sector and citizens."

LETTER: Production Tax Credit

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Western Governors sent a letter on Dec. 7, 2012, to Congressional leadership urging them to extend the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC). The letter expressed how expiration of the PTC would put the diverse energy portfolio of the West at risk and also potentially result in the loss of manufacturing jobs. The Governors emphasized the importance of the PTC, noting, "Many Western Governors have long supported the PTC as a way to help us realize clean energy goals, build our manufacturing base, create jobs, lower energy costs, and strengthen our domestic energy security."

LETTER: Governors request funding for sage-grouse habitat restoration

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Western Governors sent a letter on Oct. 25, 2012, to Congressional leaders requesting supplemental funding for firefighters battling fires, as well as for post fire recovery to restore important wildlife habitat. The letter expressed concerns about the impacts of wildfires on rangeland habitat used by the greater sage-grouse and other wildlife, the economic and community values that are tied to the use of this habitat, and collaborative state and federal efforts underway to prevent a full listing of sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act. The letter urged quick work "to provide supplemental funding to programs, particularly within the Bureau of Land Management, that prioritize necessary sage-grouse habitat rehabilitation and restoration."

LETTER: Governors support reauthorization of National Integrated Drought Information System

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Western Governors sent a letter on Oct. 25, 2012, to leadership of the House Science Committee and Senate Commerce Committee to express support for legislation to reauthorize the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). The letter emphasized the significant impacts that drought can have on life in the West and explained, "NIDIS provides authoritative, objective and timely information on drought that farmers, ranchers, water managers, and policy makers need to prepare for and respond to drought." 

LETTER: Governors oppose EPA bonding for mine reclamation

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Western Governors sent a letter on Aug. 27, 2015, to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees expressing opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s current rulemaking efforts to develop financial responsibility requirements for the hardrock mining industry under Section 108(b) of CERCLA. The letter emphasized, "We believe that the existing bonding requirements applied under state law are adequate and sufficient and thus would support Congressional action that would direct EPA to halt any further rulemaking activity in this regard." 

LETTER: Governors urge shared leadership to improve forest health, wildfire response

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Western Governors sent a letter on Aug. 27, 2012, to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to request the departments work with Western Governors to identify additional actions needed to expedite hazardous fuels reduction and increase forest and range management in high risk areas of Western forests and rangelands. The letter highlighted opportunities under existing policies and authorities to improve forest and rangeland health and emphasized, "We need to stand together and identify a solid plan of action under shared leadership to protect lives and homes and improve forest health, wildfire response and recovery." 

LETTER: Governors support sharing of renewables royalties

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Western Governors sent a letter on Aug. 8, 2012, to sponsors of legislation designed to share royalties and lease revenues from solar and wind projects developed on federal lands with states and counties. The letter thanked the Representatives for introducing the important legislation and explained, "We support the development of a leasing system for renewable energy that returns a portion of royalty revenues to the states and counties because they incur additional staff time and capital costs from permitting and siting this type of development." 

LETTER: Governors request supplemental funding for wildfires

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Western Governors sent a letter on July 11, 2012, to Congressional leadership to request supplemental funding needed to aid federal, state, and local firefighters battling wildfires. The letter specifically requested that Congress provide adequate funding through FEMA for states and local jurisdictions through the Fire Management Assistance Grant program and urge FEMA to expedite reimbursements to the states under this program. 

LETTER: Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act

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Western Governors sent a letter on May 30, 2012, to sponsors of the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act (S. 1775) to express support for the legislation that would share royalties and lease revenues from solar and wind projects developed on Federal lands with states and counties. The letter explained, "We support the development of a leasing system for renewable energy that returns a portion of royalty revenues to the states and counties because they incur additional staff time and capital costs from permitting and siting this type of development." 

LETTER: WGA concerned by Federal Trustees' groundwater damages claim

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The Western Governors' Association sent a letter on May 25, 2012, to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to express concern that Federal Trustees asserted claims for damages to groundwater in a natural resource damage case in New Mexico. Claims by Federal Trustees of this nature are unprecedented and are of great concern to the Western States. The letter emphasized the critical nature of this issue: "The ramifications of such legal position extend to the very heart of the Western States exclusive ownership and/or management and control of the groundwater resources within their respective boundaries." 

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."