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Western Governors Adopt Policies on Clean, Diversified Energy, Global Climate Change and Transportation Fuels (6/11/06

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Western Governors Adopt Policies on Clean, Diversified Energy,
Global Climate Change and Transportation Fuels

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2006

Contact:  Karen Deike, 303-377-6787

SEDONA, ARIZONA -- Western governors today committed to take action on a number of fronts to bring on-line substantially more clean and diversified energy resources, improve energy efficiency and ensure there is adequate transmission available at a reasonable cost well into the future.

They also said the country could help reduce its reliance on unstable foreign oil supplies by supporting additional research and development of cleaner, alternative transportation fuels.   Additionally, they called for a full and vigorous discussion regarding the reduction and mitigation of greenhouse gases, adaptation policies and other global climate change measures.

On the opening day of the Western Governors' Association Annual Meeting, the governors backed a broad-based set of proposals for meeting future electricity needs.  The policy resolution is based on the recommendations developed over the past 18 months by more than 250 stakeholders, whose work is outlined in the WGA report released today entitled, Clean Energy, a Strong Economy and a Healthy Environment. The goals, which the group found could be met or exceeded, are to develop an additional 30,000 megawatts of clean energy by 2015; increase energy efficiency 20 percent by 2020; and ensure secure, reliable transmission for the next 25 years.

The resolution adopted by the governors was brought forward by Govs. Janet Napolitano (Ariz.), WGA Chair; Bill Richardson (N.M.) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (Calif.), who proposed the initiative two years ago; Dave Freudenthal (Wyo.); and Mike Rounds (S.D.), WGA Vice Chair.

We are grateful to all those who dedicated so much time to this remarkable effort and worked hard to find common ground, Napolitano said. The Western governors believe the actions identified will help protect our region from energy shortages and price spikes, improve the balance of energy resources used to produce electricity, encourage more energy-efficient practices, and mitigate the environmental impacts of power generation.

Gov. Freudenthal moderated the discussion among the governors and panelists.  Speakers at today's session included Joseph T. Kelliher, Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Jeff Sterba, Chairman, President and CEO of PNM Resources and representatives from government, the environmental community and industry.

The Governors urged FERC to build a partnership with Western states to make more efficient use of the existing electric transmission grid, expand the grid to enable the region to tap remote, diverse generation, and work closely with the Western Interconnection Regional Advisory Board to ensure grid reliability.

The recommendations are cross-cutting and recognize the value of and need for reliable power generation from many sources, including cleaner-burning coal, wind, geothermal, solar and biomass, Freudenthal said.

Gov. Schwarzenegger said the recommendations address difficult and profound challenges.  When we work together, these ambitious goals are 100 percent attainable.  They're too important for us to do anything but work together.

Gov. Rounds said governors will consider measures most appropriate for their states by encouraging regulators, policymakers, utilities, transmission operators and other stakeholders to eliminate barriers to greater utilization of clean energy resources.

There is much we can do within our states, but federal action also is needed to reach our mutual goals for secure, reliable energy within our region and across the country, Rounds said.  Western governors will work with Congress and the Bush Administration to see these recommendations are implemented.

The governors identified the following federal policies and legislation needed:

  • Provide for a long-term (10 year) extension of the production tax credit for all renewable energy technologies, with complementary polices for consumer-owned utilities and tribes;
  • Provide tax credits for energy efficiency investments;
  • Raise the cap on the residential investment tax credit to $10,000 for renewable energy or distributed generation systems;
  • Support improvements in national appliance efficiency standards;
  • Encourage adequate funding for state programs, including energy efficiency, clean generation and storage technology research, development and demonstration;
  • Encourage federal agencies to collaborate with Western states and regional organizations on facility siting and infrastructure planning, consistent with sound, sustainable environmental practices;
  • Extend the federal tax credit for Integrated Gas Combined Cycle facilities for five years and provide a tax credit program for carbon capture and sequestration for at least five years;
  • Support increased federal support and tax incentives for the construction of multiple pilot facilities that demonstrate IGCC in the West at high altitude using Western coal; and
  • Encourage proactive, transparent, stakeholder-driven regional transmission expansion planning, defer to existing regional and sub-regional processes that meet such standards, and reform imbalance penalties to allow for greater use of the existing transmission system.

On the transportation fuels front, the governors said the country must reverse its over-dependence on volatile foreign oil supplies in ways that can benefit both the environment and the regional economy.  Among the measures the governors called for are:

  • expand economic opportunities through the production and distribution of domestic renewable fuels to all regions of the West;
  • diversify the country's reliance on petroleum and natural gas as feedstocks for petrochemicals by developing biofuels and coal-derived compounds;
  • evaluate alternative transportation fuels' impacts, seeking to reduce greenhouse gas and other emissions and improve air quality and the environment;
  • consider carbon capture and sequestration in evaluating the production costs of coal-to-liquids as well as other transportation fuel alternatives;
  • encourage distribution of alternative fuel refining and refueling facilities throughout the nation;
  • promote the inclusion of higher renewable content blends in existing transportation fuels;
  • promote policies that result in more fuel-efficient vehicles and incentivize consumers to purchase hybrids or other fuel efficient vehicles to reduce our per vehicle consumption of transportation fuel.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer (Mont.), a cosponsor of the transportation fuels resolution, said Energy independence is the most important challenge facing this nation and Washington is debating everything but is not directly addressing this challenge. Today, Western Governors are helping to set a new direction to position this region which is rich in coal and biomass resources to develop alternative transportation fuels. We need the federal government to step up to the plate to meet this challenge or get out of the way.

Govs. Richardson, Schwarzenegger and Napolitano also offered a policy resolution on regional and national policies regarding global climate change. The governors stated their support for local, state, regional, and national programs to reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in a manner that is consistent with scientific research and will not significantly harm the U.S. economy.

The West is where the action is for clean energy, reducing emissions, and new energy jobs and growth, Richardson said.  I appreciate the Western governors' strong support for these trend-setting energy and climate initiatives.

The policy resolutions adopted today are available on the Web at www.westgov.org.

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The Western Governors' Association is an independent, nonprofit organization representing the governors of 19 states and three U.S.-Flag islands in the Pacific.  Through their Association, the Western governors identify and address key policy and governance issues in natural resources, the environment, human services, economic development, international relations and public management.

Elected Officials from Western States and Counties Urge Senate Enactment of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (5/17/06)

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Elected Officials from Western States and Counties Urge
Senate Enactment of Comprehensive Immigration Reform

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 17, 2006

Contacts:
Amelia Jenkins, WGA, 303-623-9378, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
James Philipps, NACo Western Interstate Region, 202-942-4200, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

DENVER -- Western governors, legislators and county commissioners representing diverse constituencies from the Great Plains to the Pacific Ocean have joined forces in support of comprehensive immigration reform.

The Western Governors' Association, Council of State Governments WEST, and NACo Western Interstate Region have sent a joint letter to U.S. Senate leaders saying their efforts to reach agreement have made enactment of a comprehensive immigration reform and border security legislative package a real possibility. They congratulated Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid for their leadership.

The text of the letter sent to the leaders today follows:

On behalf of elected officials across the West, we applaud your recent agreement to bring immigration legislation before the Senate again. Further, we are encouraged that your negotiations included an agreement on a conference committee process. Your efforts have made enactment of a comprehensive immigration reform and border security legislative package a real possibility.

As elected officials addressing the impacts of immigration at the local and state level we agree that any legislation must be comprehensive. Through our own processes, our colleagues have joined to support key principles that we believe should be part of any federal initiative.

These principles include, but are not limited to, increased border security and enforcement provisions; dedicated funding to state and local governments to offset costs associated with illegal immigration; enactment of a guest worker program; and reforming foreign worker visa procedures to reduce the delay of legal immigration processes. We uphold these common principles despite our region's political or geographic diversity.

Please rest assured that we appreciate the complexity and controversy associated with the immigration issue. However, it is our opinion that legislation must link the labor and marketplace demands, societal concerns, and the need to protect and enhance national security.

We stand ready to assist you in your efforts to move forward on a comprehensive legislative package and look forward to working with you on this important issue.

Thank you for your leadership.

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Western Governors: Current Drought Emphasizes Need for National Drought Information System (5/4/06)

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Western Governors: Current Drought Emphasizes Need for National Drought Information System

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 4, 2006
Contact: Kevin Moran, 202-624-5402

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With a quarter of the United States already facing moderate-to-extreme drought conditions, Western Governors today urged Congress to take action this year on the National Integrated Drought Information System Act, a proactive measure that will minimize the impacts and costs of drought.

The Western Governors' Association's leads for drought are Govs. Janet Napolitano (Ariz.), WGA Chair; Mike Rounds (S.D.), WGA Vice Chairman; Brian Schweitzer (Mont.); and Bill Richardson (N.M.).

Duane Smith, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, testified today on behalf of WGA and the Western States Water Council before the House Science Subcommittee on Environment, Technology, and Standards.

We are already seeing the impacts of drought in 2006, Smith said. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there have been 32,988 fires between January 1 and April 24 on 2,195,768 acres. This compares to the 5-year average for this time period of 23,639 fires on 485,308 acres.

We know from our past experiences, the costs of response efforts to drought have been staggering. On average, the federal government spends $6-8 billion on drought response.

Western governors and the water council say creation of the National Integrated Drought Information System would improve drought monitoring and forecasting, which is fundamental to a proactive approach to addressing not only drought, but also water shortages.

It also would allow policy-makers and water managers at all levels of the private and public sectors to make more informed and timely decisions about water resources in order to mitigate or avoid the impacts from droughts, Smith said.

NIDIS will provide water users across the board- farmers, ranchers, utilities, tribes, land managers, business owners, recreationalists, wildlife managers, and decision-makers at all levels of government- with the ability to assess their drought risk in real time and before the onset of drought, in order to make informed decisions that may mitigate a drought's impacts.

The Western states believe that enactment of NIDIS will help move the country toward a proactive approach that will avoid conflicts and minimize the damage caused by future droughts, thereby saving taxpayers money, Smith said.

The House measure is sponsored by Reps. Ralph Hall (Texas) and Mark Udall (Colo.). Sponsors of a similar Senate bill are Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Pete Domenici (N.M.). Information related to WGA's drought policy can be found on the Web at WGA Policies.

The Western Governors' Association is an independent, nonprofit organization representing the governors of 18 states and three U.S.-Flag islands in the Pacific. Through their Association, the Western governors identify and address key policy and governance issues in natural resources, the environment, human services, economic development, international relations and public management.

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Western Governors Offer "Unqualified Support" to Kempthorne Nomination for Interior Secretary (5/3/06)

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Western Governors Offer "Unqualified Support" to Kempthorne Nomination for Interior Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 3, 2006

Contact: Karen Deike, 303-623-9378

DENVER -- Following is the text of a Westerm Governors' Association letter sent to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources today expressing "unqualified support" for Gov. Dirk Kempthorne to serve as the next Secretary of the Interior. His confirmation hearing begins Thursday. The letter was signed by Govs. Janet Napolitano (Ariz.), WGA Chair, and Mike Rounds (S.D.) Vice Chairman, on behalf of their colleagues. The letter was sent to committee members and addressed to the chairman, Sen. Pete Domenici, and ranking minority member, Sen. Jeff Bingaman.

"Dear Senators Domenici and Bingaman:

"On behalf of the membership of the Western Governors' Association, we are writing to express our unqualified support for Governor Dirk Kempthorne's nomination to be the next Secretary of the Interior. Governor Kempthorne was elected Idaho's 30th Governor in 1998 and was re-elected in 2002. As Governor, he has put forward initiatives to foster rural economic development, improve overseas marketing of Idaho products, and promote greater integration of the state's scientific, educational, and business communities. Idaho's children have also been his priority. He has established a range of programs to ensure that Idaho's children are healthy and well educated.

"Governor Kempthorne has actively participated in the Western Governors' Association throughout his tenure and served as our Chairman in 2001. He is currently or has been a leader on a number of key WGA issues including forest health, Endangered Species Act reform, energy policy and drug policy.

"He has been particularly active on our forest health efforts. In response to the devastating wildfires that struck Idaho and many other western states in the summer of 2000, Governor Kempthorne worked closely with the Governor of Oregon to develop the 10-Year Comprehensive Strategy: A Collaborative Approach for Reducing Wildland Fire Risks to Communities and the Environment. He brought together his colleagues, the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture, local and tribal governments and a wide range of stakeholders to fundamentally shift our nation's approach to addressing forest health. He has worked effectively to implement this Strategy both through WGA and as the sole representative of all the Governors on the Wildland Fire Leadership Council.

"The Western Governors believe Governor Kempthorne possesses extraordinary leadership skills and a keen understanding of public lands issues. He is highly qualified to become the 49th Secretary of the Department of the Interior. We urge the Senate to confirm him expeditiously and look forward to working closely with him thereafter.

"Thank you for your consideration of our views."

The Western Governors' Association is an independent, nonprofit organization representing the governors of 18 states and three U.S.-Flag islands in the Pacific. Through their Association, the Western governors identify and address key policy and governance issues in natural resources, the environment, human services, economic development, international relations and public management.

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Western Governors: Border Communities Burdened with Illegal Immigration Enforcement Should be Reimbursed (4/3/06

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Western Governors: Border Communities Burdened withIllegal Immigration Enforcement Should be Reimbursed

Comprehensive Reform Supported as Senate Continues Debate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2006

Contact: Kevin Moran (202) 624-5402 or Paul Orbuch (303) 623-9378

DENVER -- The federal government's failure to adequately secure the border with Mexico has forced border communities to do the work for them at an enormous cost, and Western Governors said today comprehensive illegal immigration legislation must provide reimbursement for those costs.

Govs. Janet Napolitano (Ariz.), Chair of the Western Governors' Association, and Jon Huntsman, Jr. (Utah), co-lead for comprehensive immigration reform with Napolitano, urged the Senate to adopt an amendment offered by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (N.M.) to the reform bill it is debating. It would establish a grant program administered through the Department of Homeland Security to assist local law enforcement agencies in communities of less than 50,000 people and within 100 miles of the U.S. borders of Mexico and Canada.

Our colleagues in the Western Governors' Association are seeking comprehensive reform of illegal immigration laws, and that includes support to smaller communities along the border saddled with law enforcement costs related to human smuggling, drug trafficking and car thefts, Napolitano said. Just having to incarcerate unauthorized immigrants in local correctional facilities is a large expense in and of itself.

Huntsman noted that a study by the Border Counties Coalition found the criminal justice expenses related to illegal immigration exceeds $89 million annually.

While the overall debate in the Senate has been contentious, there should be no debate that border communities are severely burdened by these costs and they should be reimbursed, Huntsman said.

The governors also sent a letter today to members of the Senate and House summarizing key provisions of a resolution they adopted unanimously in February. They include: 

Border Security and Enforcement - Substantially increase the number of border patrol personnel and enhance border security and surveillance through technological innovations. Authorize completion of a comprehensive database that will interface with state, national and international criminal and terrorist databases, and includes state-of-the-art privacy safeguards. Authorize construction of Western regional federal correctional facilities to house criminal aliens who have been apprehended and convicted in state criminal justice systems should be authorized. To the maximum extent possible, families that are detained should be kept together and kept separate from the general population in detention facilities. 

Reimbursement of Costs Incurred by States - In addition to localities, states have incurred enormous costs as a result of the failure to control illegal entries along our international borders. The Department of Homeland Security should either assume responsibility for detained individuals or compensate states for these costs. 

Labor Pool and Visa Reform - The governors support efforts to more than double the number of employment-based visas, and particularly efforts to increase them for the high-tech and bio-tech industries as well as for seasonal hospitality and agricultural workers. 

Enactment of a Guest Worker Program is Essential - A national temporary guest worker program should be established to supplement areas where there are documented shortages of U.S. workers. The governors support efforts to include a temporary guest worker program in the bill. They agree the sanctions that have been under discussion for undocumented individuals already residing in the U.S. such as fines, payment of back taxes, background checks, and demonstrating proficiency in learning English are appropriate and necessary. They oppose granting blanket amnesty to these individuals.

A copy of the governors' resolution and related information can be found on WGA's Web site at www.westgov.org.

The Western Governors' Association is an independent, nonprofit organization representing the governors of 18 states and three U.S.-Flag islands in the Pacific. Through their Association, the Western governors identify and address key policy and governance issues in natural resources, the environment, human services, economic development, international relations and public management.

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Western Governors Urge Senate to Pass Comprehensive Bill on Illegal Immigration (3/27/06)

Published on .

Western Governors Urge Senate to Pass Comprehensive Bill on Illegal Immigration

Border Security, employment-based visas, guest worker program and state reimbursement critical pieces

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 27, 2006

CONTACT: Paul Orbuch, 303-623-9378

DENVER -- Western governors today urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass a comprehensive bill on illegal immigration that would improve border security and enforcement, increase employment-based visas, create a temporary guest worker program and ensure states are reimbursed for the enormous amounts they must spend to apprehend and incarcerate illegal immigrants.

Govs. Janet Napolitano (Ariz.), Chair of the Western Governors' Association, and Jon Huntsman, Jr. (Utah), serve as lead governors for immigration issues. In a letter to the Judiciary Committee's leadership - Sens. Arlen Specter and Patrick Leahy - the governors thanked them for shepherding a comprehensive reform bill through their committee, which met again today.

As you know, the illegal immigration problem is greatly affecting many of our states. We all share the desire to alleviate the burdens it has placed on our state and local governments, our business and our citizens, the letter stated. We cannot overstate either the importance of this problem to our States or our desire to see Congress act on this pressing problem.

The letter summarized key provisions supported by Western governors:

Border Security and Enforcement - We support your efforts to substantially increase the number of border patrol personnel and to enhance border security and surveillance through technological innovations. We ask you to also consider adding language to authorize the completion of a comprehensive database that will interface with state, national and international criminal and terrorist databases, and includes state-of-the-art privacy safeguards. In addition, we believe that the construction of Western regional federal correctional facilities to house criminal aliens who have been apprehended and convicted in state criminal justice systems should be authorized. To the maximum extent possible, families that are detained should be kept together and kept separate from the general population in detention facilities. 

Reimbursement of Costs Incurred by States - States and localities have incurred enormous costs as a result of the failure to control illegal entries along our international borders. We support your efforts to require the Department of Homeland Security to either assume responsibility for detained individuals or to compensate States for these costs.

Labor Pool and Visa Issues - We support your efforts to more than double the number of employment-based visas, and particularly your efforts to increase them for the high-tech and bio-tech industries as well as for seasonal hospitality workers. 

Enactment of a Guest Worker Program is Essential - A national temporary guest worker program should be established to supplement areas where there are documented shortages of U.S. workers. We heartily support your efforts to include a temporary guest worker program in the bill. We agree that the sanctions that have been under discussion for undocumented individuals already residing in the US such as fines, payment of back taxes, background checks, and demonstrating proficiency in learning English are appropriate and necessary. We would oppose granting blanket amnesty to these individuals.

The Western Governors' Association is an independent, nonprofit organization representing the governors of 18 states and three U.S.-Flag islands in the Pacific. Through their Association, the Western governors identify and address key policy and governance issues in natural resources, the environment, human services, economic development, international relations and public management.

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Western Governors adopt comprehensive framework for border security, immigration reform based in reality (2/28/06)

Published on .

Western Governors adopt comprehensive framework for 
border security, immigration reform based in reality

Swift action sought by Congress, Administration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 28, 2006

Contacts: 
Paul Orbuch (WGA) 303-623-9378 ext. 125
Jeanine L'Ecuyer (Gov. Napolitano) 602-542-1342
Mike Mower or Tami Kikuchi (Gov. Huntsman) 801-538-1000

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Western governors today called on Congress and the administration to approve a comprehensive national immigration policy that will strengthen security along the southern border, create a temporary guest worker program without amnesty to meet specific workforce needs, and provide reimbursement for local and state governments now filling the enforcement void.

The Western Governors' Association unanimously approved a policy resolution on immigration reform that they said is based in reality. It was sponsored by Govs. Janet Napolitano (Ariz.), WGA Chair, and Jon Huntsman, Jr. (Utah).

While illegal immigration is a national issue affecting our entire economy, Western states suffer a disproportionate financial burden on our health care, education, the environment and criminal justice systems, Napolitano said. The time for micro-steps and limited action is behind us.

Huntsman said, Our states are on the front lines of a tidal wave of illegal immigration. The debate in Washington has been polarizing and unhealthy, and we are asking the Administration and Congress to adopt this bipartisan framework and recommendations agreed to by the Western Governors' Association.

Among the governors proposals are:

Comprehensive Reform: The overarching purpose of reform legislation should be to protect and preserve the safety and interests of the United States and its citizens while recognizing the needs of Western industries to have a stable and legal supply of workers where there are no willing U.S. workers otherwise available.

Oppose Blanket Amnesty: While a complex issue, the governors do not support granting blanket amnesty to all undocumented persons and believe that appropriate sanctions should be part of any solution.

Reduce Delay for Legal Immigration: Congress is urged not to inadvertently create incentives for additional illegal immigration by creating unnecessary hurdles and lengthy delays for those who wish to immigrate legally for work or citizenship.

Border Security and Enforcement Provisions: Comprehensive national immigration reform should provide: full funding at the authorized level of the federal investment in law enforcement personnel and infrastructure along the border as set forth in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004; cutting-edge enforcement technology; better coordination of law enforcement efforts by federal agencies on both sides of the border; and the construction of Western regional federal correctional facilities to house aliens convicted in state criminal justice systems.

Labor Pool and Visa Issues: Foreign Worker Visa reform is a critical component of national immigration reform and an effective border enforcement strategy. Among the elements of this proposal are: full funding at the authorized level for both the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor to process all employment-based visas in a timely manner; eliminate current visa backlogs and prevent future backlogs by making up to 90,000 additional employment-based immigrant visas available annually; increase the number of visas needed to meet U.S. industry demands, particularly in the high tech and bio tech industries and seasonal hospitality operations; streamline the processing of visas for seasonal agricultural employees.

Guest Worker Program: A national temporary guest worker program should be established to supplement areas where there are documented shortages of U.S. workers. The new temporary guest worker program should require proper background checks and screening by the federal government. Realistic steps, including measured and appropriate sanctions, should be taken to address the status of millions of undocumented individuals who already reside in this country. A new temporary guest worker visa program should reduce the need for illegal crossings, providing a safe way for workers to enter the country and return home to their families.

Realistic Enforcement: Current federal employer sanctions for knowingly hiring undocumented labor should be enforced. To that end, the federal government must adopt a secure, reliable and fast employment verification system accessible to employers electronically on a 24/7 basis.

Detention of Children: Detention facilities along the border must be designed and enforcement personnel must be instructed to alleviate the burden of separation on families detained at the border.

Financing and Reimbursements to States and Localities: The federal government must work closely with the states to provide immediate resources required to offset the enormous costs imposed upon the states as a result of the failure to control illegal entries along international borders. Of particular concern are the costs of incarcerating unauthorized immigrants who are being housed in state and local correctional facilities.

U.S. Foreign Policy Needs: The federal government should reduce illegal immigration by working with the Mexican and Latin American governments to generate economic growth, improve the standard of living and promote ownership in those countries. The government of Mexico should be urged to reduce illegal immigration by enforcing Mexico's immigration laws, thereby reducing the flow of non-Mexicans traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border with plans to enter the U.S. illegally. Measurable progress on these goals should be considered in Foreign Aid provided to these governments.

 

The Western Governors' Association is an independent, nonprofit organization representing the governors of 18 states and three U.S.-Flag islands in the Pacific. Through their Association, the Western governors identify and address key policy and governance issues in natural resources, the environment, human services, economic development, international relations and public management.

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Western Governors, Forestry Leaders Create Online Information Center for Roadless Rule (2/15/06)

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Western Governors, Forestry Leaders Create Online Information Center for Roadless Rule

For Immediate Release 
February 15, 2006

Contact: Diane Denenberg
303.445.4365, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

DENVER - An online, one-stop clearinghouse for information on state actions related to federal roadless lands has been created by the Western Governors' Association and Western Forestry Leadership Coalition to assist governmental agencies, stakeholders and others track developments as state petitions are developed. The Web site, hosted by the Coalition, can be found at: www.wflcweb.org/roadless.

While not in uniform agreement about the value of the roadless rule, the Governors believe there is value in learning from the actions of other states, and they have urged state officials to coordinate closely with neighboring states that share roadless areas.

WGA and the Coalition are ideal partners in the education process for states and stakeholders as roadless petitions are developed, said Gov. Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho, a WGA lead for forest policy. This is an important initiative for the West that deserves the full attention of all citizens and interests with a stake in the future of our national forests.

The final rule for roadless areas, issued in May of 2005, established a process for Governors to request the Secretary of Agriculture to change all or a portion of the management direction for roadless areas through state-specific rulemaking. Governors were given 18 months to submit their petitions.

Linda Goodman, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Regional Forester and the Coalition Chair representing the federal government, said: Coordinating this information is the perfect role for the Coalition. The result should be that everyone interested in the process will make better decisions.

State Government Co-Chair and Guam Forester, David Limtiaco, believes that this is important for state forestry managers as well. Limtiaco said decisions made in this process will affect the health of neighboring, non-federal forests.

Gov. Janet Napolitano, WGA Chair and lead with Kempthorne on forest issues, said although the roadless rule is being challenged in court by a number of states, it is still imperative that we share information as the petition process moves forward.

The Western Governors' Association is an independent, nonprofit organization representing the governors of 18 states and three U.S.-Flag islands in the Pacific. www.westgov.org

The Western Forestry Leadership Coalition is a unique state-federal partnership consisting of the 17 western State Foresters , 6 Territorial Foresters and the USDA Forest Service western Regional Foresters, Research Station, and Forest Products Lab Directors. www.WFLCweb.org

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WGA to Co-sponsor National Bioenergy Conference (2/10/06)

Published on .

WGA to Co-sponsor National Bioenergy Conference

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 10, 2006
Contact: Gayle Gordon, (303) 623-9378

DENVER -- The Western Governors' Association will cosponsor the second national Bioenergy and Wood Products Conference, Innovations in Restoring Forests and Strengthening Economies, March 14 - 16 in Denver. WGA co-leads for biomass and forest health issues are Gov. Janet Napolitano (Ariz.), WGA Chair, and Gov. Dirk Kempthorne (Idaho).

Teaming up with the WGA to host the event are the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Energy; the Intertribal Timber Council; National Association of Conservation Districts; National Association of Counties; National Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils; and Western Forestry Leadership Coalition. All interested parties from government, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and academia are encouraged to attend the conference at the Hyatt Convention Center.

Using biomass makes sense for many reasons, Napolitano said. We can reduce the hazardous fuel build-up in our forests, improve our rural economies, and reduce our reliance on foreign oil by increasing the use of a renewable energy source at home.

Napolitano last year issued an Executive Order in Arizona called, Implementing Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in New State Buildings. It acknowledges the potential of developing thermal energy using forest biomass, while creating the economic incentives necessary to support commercial thinning of forests.
Gov. Kempthorne said, Forest health and the risk of wildfires continue to be a major concern in Idaho and across the West. Meeting participants will explore successes and innovations in woody biomass utilization and learn how strong partnerships are developing successful local strategies.

Expert presentations, field tours, displays, poster sessions and other activities will concentrate on utilizing woody biomass from public and private forests as a reliable supply for bioenergy production and wood products businesses. Attendees will explore woody biomass utilization within the contexts of energy diversification, wildfire management and homeland security.

Regional breakout sessions also will give participants the opportunity to network with leaders in the biomass industry from the West, Midwest, South and East. Attendees may sign up for field tours prior to and after the meeting. Tours include the Community Power Corporation in Lakewood, the Boulder County Heating Biomass Facility and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden.

For more information on the conference and to register online and make hotel reservations, visit the conference Web site.

The Western Governors' Association is an independent, nonprofit organization representing the governors of 18 states and three U.S.-Flag islands in the Pacific. Through their Association, the Western governors identify and address key policy and governance issues in natural resources, the environment, human services, economic development, international relations and public management.

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WGA Advisory Committee to Consider Array of Options for Increasing Clean Energy, Efficiency in the West (1/10/06)

Published on .

WGA Advisory Committee to Consider Array of Options for Increasing Clean Energy, Efficiency in the West

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 10, 2006

Contact: Rich Halvey, WGA (303) 623-9378

DENVER - The Western Governors' Association's Clean and Diversified Energy Advisory Committee (CDEAC) is set to consider an array of options for bringing on-line 30,000 Megawatts of clean energy by 2015, increasing energy efficiency 20 percent by 2020 and providing adequate transmission for the region. The CDEAC released today several task force reports that examine the feasibility of and options for reaching those goals.

Task force reports completed to date include advanced coal, biomass, energy efficiency, geothermal and solar. Reports on natural gas, wind and transmission are expected to be completed in the coming weeks. White papers also were produced on the topics of combined heat and power and hydropower.

Western Governors launched the Clean and Diversified Energy Initiative in 2004 with the unanimous approval of a resolution sponsored by Govs. Bill Richardson (N.M.), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Calif.), Dave Freudenthal (Wyo.) and John Hoeven (N.D.). The CDEAC is co-chaired by William J. Keese, former Chairman of the California Energy Commission, and Bill Real, Senior Vice-President of Public Service Company of New Mexico.

The quality of these reports is tremendous. It is obvious how committed and enthusiastic everyone has been throughout this initiative, Real said. The consistency and detail of information included in the reports will not only serve as an important guide to the CDEAC, but will also likely be referenced in a variety of future energy policy efforts.

Keese said release of these reports marks a very crucial step in the CDEAC process of developing recommendations for the Governors to consider at their 2006 Annual Meeting, June 11 - 13 in Sedona, Ariz.

Over 250 individuals participated in developing these recommendations and represented every facet of the energy industry, environmental organizations, consumer interests and government, Keese said. They poured countless hours of their time into preparing these reports, and it is now up to the CDEAC to review them and consider how the various pieces may best fit together in reaching the Governors' goals.

The CDEAC will hold its final meeting this spring. Copies of all the reports and information on the initiative and upcoming meetings are available on the WGA Web site at www.westgov.org.

The Western Governors' Association is an independent, nonprofit organization representing the governors of 18 states and three U.S.-Flag islands in the Pacific. Through their Association, the Western governors identify and address key policy and governance issues in natural resources, the environment, human services, economic development, international relations and public management.

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