Executive Director’s Notebook: Governors leading way out of COVID crisis, connecting with new Administration, creating an EV Roadmap for the West

WGA News

By Jim Ogsbury

Due in no small part to the heroic efforts of Western Governors, there increasingly seems to be light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. WGA enters this new spring with renewed optimism, an attitude reinforced by the Governors’ engagement in a host of policy projects and programs.

Transition: WGA continues to promote the policy priorities of Western Governors with  Administration officials and members of the 117th Congress. We have delivered  congratulatory correspondence and policy digests to key leaders of the executive branch, including:  President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Small Business Administration Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, Secretary of Labor Martin J. Walsh, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia L. Fudge, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine C. Tai, and Cecilia Rouse, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors. See all correspondence.

Electric Vehicles Roadmap: WGA has made substantial progress on Oregon Governor  Kate Brown’s initiative as the Association’s chair. The project, to create an Electric Vehicles Roadmap for the West, is focused on expanding regional coordination on electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and overcoming obstacles to deployment of EVs in the region. WGA is working with states participating in the West Coast Electric Highway and the Regional Electric Vehicles Plan for the West to improve alignment between these  two agreements. WGA has also launched a webinar and podcast series, highlighting issues such as grid infrastructure and planning and  challenges and opportunities for EVs in the rural West.

Advocacy: WGA continues to leverage the collective influence of Western Governors to advance their legislative and regulatory priorities in Washington, D.C. In recent weeks, WGA has: 

  • Asked President Biden to consult with states on the pause of oil and gas leasing on public lands;
  • Subcommited comments to the Office of Management and Budget on its proposal to change the classification standard for Metropolitan Statistical Areas;
  • Communicated its support for certain revisions by the U.S. Forest Service to rules governing rangeland management and livestock grazing on public lands.

Western Governors’ Foundation: The Board of Directors of the Western Governors’ Foundation, the philanthropic arm of WGA, recently held its quarterly meeting. Participants included Chairman Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota, Vice Chair Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Butch Otter of Idaho, and Hawaii Gov. David Ige. The Board discussed ongoing WGF projects, such as the Celebrate the West high school art competition, as well as an exciting new project to promote youth leadership in the West.

2021 Annual Meeting: Please save the dates of June 30 and July 1 for the WGA Annual Meeting. The virtual event will feature Western Governors addressing some of  the most important issues facing the West. Watch this space for additional details and registration information.

Jim Ogsbury is the Executive Director of the Western Governors' Association. Contact him at 303-623-9378 or send an email. Get the latest news about the West and its governors by following the Western Governors' Association on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

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