WGA Annual Meeting Day 2: Jewell and Moniz keynotes, Chairman’s Initiative resolution, innovation and biosecurity roundtables

Western Governors heard keynotes by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and engaged with industry experts on innovation and biosecurity issues during day two of the 2016 Annual Meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

The Governors also released a Special Report and Policy Resolution based on the first year of the Western Governors' Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative, the Chairman's Initiative of Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead

Eight Western Governors, led by Gov. Mead, took part in the day's sessions, including Steve Bullock (Montana, WGA Vice Chair), Doug Ducey (Arizona), C.L. "Butch" Otter (Idaho), John Hickenlooper (Colorado), Brian Sandoval (Nevada), Jack Dalrymple (North Dakota), and Dennis Daugaard (South Dakota).

Highlights from the day's sessions at the Snow King Resort:

Keynote: Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz kicked off the second day of the Annual Meeting by highlighting the variety of innovation across the spectrum of the energy arena, from renewable sources to fossil fuels.

  • "The current change in the energy sector presents both opportunity and challenge."
  • "We remain committed – very, very strongly – to continuing to enable all of our energy sources to have a place in the market."
Roundtable: Innovation in the West

Governors and industry experts highlighted emerging innovations in areas such as autonomous vehicles, drought management, and carbon emissions.

  • Ron BarnesHead of State Legislative Affairs, Google: "Google’s goal with our self-driving car is to reduce accidents, reduce vehicular deaths, and facilitate mobility for the elderly, disabled, and other populations."
  • Matt McKinneyGeneral Manager, Bently Ranch: "We’re trying to do some stuff with water in Nevada to make that desert grow."
  • Marcius ExtavourDirector of Technical Operations, NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE: "A prize competition is an interesting and powerful tool that we can use to tackle a broad range of problems. We think of ourselves as an innovation engine."
Roundtable: Biosecurity Challenges

Governors and panelists discussed how biosecurity threats are identified and tracked, and the processes used to mitigate and eliminate the dangers they pose.

  • Dr. Frank DaleyDean, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Wyoming: "Many of the things we deal with, with wildlife and livestock, can also cross into human beings. And that is one of the reasons that we need to pay so much attention to biosecurity. Not only can it impact the health of our wildlife and our domestic livestock industry, but it can also impact human health."
  • Dr. Geoffrey CrawfordMedical Director, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield: "It’s not the exotic, interesting ebola or Zika outbreaks that are really our concern, it’s the mundane and kind of simple things like antibiotic resistance that should be the number one concern."
  • Gov. Dennis Daugaard: "Traditionally biosecurity has been concerned with the protection of food supplies or attempting to guard against crop or livestock diseases that could affect or even devastate the agricultural sector. But that narrow definition has been expanded over time. Today, biosecurity is concerned not only with agriculture but with infectious diseases affecting wildlife and human life."
Keynote: Interior Secretary Sally Jewell

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell discussed how the priorities of her Department intersect with western issues and opportunities for partnerships with Western Governors. Highlights from her remarks and resulting conversation with the Governors:

  • Secretary Jewell: "We are moving forward with important energy reforms and working toward achieving a cleaner and more secure energy future. We’re working on cutting methane emissions, as are many of you, and we’ve learned a lot from your states."
  • Secretary Jewell: "I want to applaud you Western Governors for the incredible success story of the greater sage-grouse. We are really working very closely with every one of your states. WGA has been a fantastic partner."
  • Gov. Brian Sandoval: "In regards to governors' consistency reviews, you said something very key, which is that we will have earlier input. It doesn’t look that way right now; it looks like it will be narrowed. In the case of sage-grouse, that consultation felt perfunctory.  We want to be heard early in the process instead of at the end, and we’d love to work with you to make sure that we can do that as we move forward."
Western Governors’ Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead shared the work of the first year of his Chairman's Initiative and released a Special Report and policy resolution.

  • Gov. Matt Mead: "If you care, as Western Governors do, about species and conservation, you also have to care about making the ESA operate at the most effective level possible."
  • Dan AsheDirector, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: "I want to thank Western Governors for taking on this Species Conservation and ESA Initiative. Given the current conflict-oriented political environment, many say it is too difficult to tackle this issue. I really appreciate WGA taking this on and the characteristic way you have gone about it."
  • Donna WietingDirector, Office of Protected Resources, NOAA Fisheries: "It is easy to get immersed in the mechanics of implementing the ESA.  We can lose sight of the need to focus on recovery. I know that the Fisheries Service has been actively engaged with WGA, among other groups, to work more cooperatively. We recognize the value of what states bring to the table in terms of science and also resources."
  • Scott TalbottDirector, Wyoming Game and Fish Department: "Our successful work with the Black-Footed Ferret is thanks to collaborative conservation efforts by a wide range of partners."

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