By Jim Ogsbury
It’s official: through WGA, Western Governors are now developing and pursuing the most meaningful, detailed and substantive policy agenda of any bipartisan association of elected officials in the country. Well, maybe it isn’t official, but it is true. Consider, for example, this small sample of WGA policy efforts in recent months.
Chairman’s Initiative of WGA Chair and Montana Governor Steve Bullock is off to an outstanding start. Two regional workshops already have been held, hosted by Gov. Bullock in Missoula and Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter in Boise. The next workshop, to be hosted by Vice Chair and South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, is scheduled for Dec. 1-2 in Deadwood.National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative: The
Environmental Protection: WGA provided comments to the Environmental Protection Agency and met with the Office of Management and Budget to convey the concerns of Western Governors regarding the agency’s concentrated air quality standards for ozone and proposed revisions to the agency’s exceptional events rule. WGA also submitted formal comments to EPA on its prospective establishment of hard rock mining financial assurance requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.
Land Management: I appeared before subcommittees of both the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to testify as to Western Governors’ concerns surrounding the proposed Planning 2.0 rule of the Bureau of Land Management. WGA also submitted testimony regarding the wild horse and burro problem on public lands to the House Natural Resources Committee and communicated the need for Congressional action to "simplify and expedite" federal-state land exchange, sale and conveyance processes.
Western Governors are pursuing a raft of other projects. Those include Year Two of the Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative of WGA’s immediate past chairman, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, and the launch of a West-wide Invasive Species Inventory and Data Management Protocols Project.
It is because of the Governors’ collaborative work, personal engagement and measured leadership that WGA has acquired a reputation as a singularly effective bipartisan association of elected officials. It remains a privilege of the highest order to serve them, and I thank them for their leadership.