Annual Meeting Day 1: Governors urged to take on challenges; sessions examine cybersecurity, U.S-Canada relations

Montana Governor Steve Bullock urged fellow Western Governors to "examine the opportunities and challenges we face as a country and … the tests we face to keep our lands healthy" in remarks on the opening day of the Western Governors' Association 2017 Annual Meeting.

Gov. Bullock, the Chair of WGA, then moderated a panel on U.S.-Canada relations before the first day of the meeting in Whitefish concluded with a session on cybersecurity for the electric grids.

Ten Western Governors attended opening day events at the three-day meeting. They include (in the photo from left to right): Governors Doug Burgum (North Dakota), Matt Mead (Wyoming), Butch Otter (Idaho), David Ige (Hawaii), WGA Chair Steve Bullock (Montana), Ralph Torres (Northern Mariana Islands), WGA Vice Chair Dennis Daugaard (South Dakota), John Hickenlooper (Colorado), and Brian Sandoval (Nevada). Not pictured but in attendance, Gary Herbert (Utah).

WGA Executive Director Jim Ogsbury opened the meeting by welcoming Governors and guests. Ogsbury also unveiled WGA’s new brand logo and website, designed to reaffirm WGA’s commitment to serving Western Governors.

Highlights from the day’s sessions at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center:

Roundtable: Connecting Canada and the West: Canadian Premier Brad Wall of Saskatchewan and Canadian Ambassador David MacNaughton joined the Governors in a roundtable discussion, moderated by Gov. Bullock, to discuss common issues such as energy and forest management.

Ambassador MacNaughton, On the Canada-U.S. softwood lumber dispute: "Since the election of the new Administration, conversations have become more productive. These are very challenging issues on both sides. However, we are betting we have a shot of getting something done."

Premier Wall: "NAFTA isn’t perfect. It can and should be updated. But we want it improved, we don’t want it abolished."

Governor Mead: "Canada is, by far, Wyoming's greatest trading partner ... As the biggest producer of coal in the U.S. we bear the greatest responsibility to solve issues associated with its utilization. Canada is giving us ideas on best practices to help us do so."

Roundtable: Cybersecurity for the Power Grids: Montana Public Service Commissioner Travis Kavulla and Scott Aaronson, Executive Director, Security and Business Continuity with the Edison Electric Institute, joined the Governors for a discussion moderated by Gov. Otter. The conversation delved into ongoing and emerging challenges in the security and reliability of electric grids.

Kavulla: "A new front has been opened in relations between nation states and a key vulnerability in this new form of engagement is the potential disruption of critical infrastructure in the U.S."

Aaronson: “We can’t protect everything from all things all the time. The adversary has to be right just once. We have to be right 100% of the time.”

Governor Burgum: “Cyber war equals war ... Someone trying to take over the controls of a drone, or automated vehicles. I feel we are under investing by a huge margin. Over investing in traditional warfare, under investing in cyber. This is almost a national defense issue for me.”

Here's the Day 2 Agenda

Keynote: Dr Frank Luntz (8:45-9:15 a.m.): Frank Luntz, whose “Instant Response” technique delivers precise corporate and campaign data, is one of the most influential communication professionals in America.

Chairman’s Initiative: Western Governors’ National Forest and Rangeland Management (9:15-10:15 a.m.) WGA Chair and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock will moderate a session that highlights the past year’s work on his central policy initiative and considers next steps.

Keynote & Conversation with U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (10:15-11 a.m.): The Secretary will deliver a keynote address and then have a conversation with Western Governors.

Roundtable IV: Brewing up an Economic Force (11-11:45 a.m.): Microbreweries and craft distillers have experienced explosive growth across the West. In addition to creating jobs, the two industries have generated challenging policy considerations, ranging from tasting room licensure to the demands placed on western water supplies.

Keynote by Conrad Anker (11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.): The "climber’s climber" who calls Montana home will share how his triumphal ascents have deepened his appreciation for collaboration and the outdoors.

Read about day 2

Read about day 3

Read, download new WGA Resolutions

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