Western Governors' tackle big issues such as energy, public lands and healthcare at annual meeting

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The Western Governors' Association 2013 Annual Meeting may be over, but the issues confronted by the governors remain front and center in the West.

10 Year Energy Plan 2013 coverHere's an overview of the meeting -- held June 28-30 at the Montage Deer Creek in Park City, Utah -- which saw discussions of public lands, healthcare, education and energy. It also included speeches by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and T. Boone Pickens, Chairman of BP Capital Management.

Public lands dominated the first day of the meeting.Interior Secretary Jewell delivered a keynote (Watch Secretary Jewell's speech) about wise and balanced use of federal public lands. After the speech was finished, WGA Chairman and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert asked "How do you define balance?" Read the Salt Lake City Tribune story to see how she answered.

Saturday sessions included lively panel discussions on healthcare and education. The healthcare panel included Mike Leavitt, former U.S. Health and Human Services secretary and former Utah governor. Leavitt told the governors "States can have more influence than they think" when it comes to healthcare reform. (Read more)

State of Energy 2013 coverFormer Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, who took part in the education panel, told the governors an investment made in public education now may not pay off for decades, but the investment must be made. "It's difficult for us to assume responsibility for a 20-year spectrum. But I ask, 'Who else is?'" (Read more in the Deseret News)

Energy was the focus on Sunday, when the governors formally rolled out the 10-Year Energy Vision, which articulates the overarching goals of a Western energy policy. In addition, the Western Governors also unveiled The State of Energy in the West, which provides detailed background on energy resources and consumption in the West, and Energy Perspectives, essays by Western Governors on energy-related topics. (Download all three energy documents)

Energy Perspectives 2013 coverThe Governors also approved nine resolutions, including: Energy & Transmission; Endangered Species Act; Federal-State Land Exchanges and Purchases; Combating Invasive Species; Wildland Fire Management; Conserving Wildlife and Crucial Habitat in the West; Farm Bill and Western Agriculture; Cleaning up Abandoned Mines, and National Minerals Policy. Read and download the resolutions.

Finally, the meeting concluded with Gov. Herbert passing the gavel to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who was elected WGA Chairman. It was also announced that Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval was elected Vice Chairman.