Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon Announces WGA Chair Initiative: Decarbonizing the West

On June 28, Colorado Governor Jared Polis officially handed off the reigns as Chair of the Western Governors’ Association to Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon. The Governors also elected New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham as the new Vice Chair.

For his Chair Initiative, Governor Gordon will examine how carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies, including direct air capture (DAC), can position western states at the forefront of emerging carbon markets and reduce the effects of carbon emissions on the environment. 

Entitled Decarbonizing the West, the year-long initiative will convene federal, state, local, tribal, and industry stakeholders to explore issues and themes relevant to the development and deployment of CCUS, including statutory and regulatory barriers, technical advancements and challenges, and emerging applications for carbon. Initiative findings will be memorialized in an initiative report to be released in conjunction with the WGA 2024 Annual Meeting. 

“We know that simply curbing emissions alone is not going to solve the climate crisis we have, said Governor Gordon. We have to be aggressive, and we have to use what America has always done well, which is innovation and opportunity to figure ways to aggressively affect a difference in our atmosphere… working together with all of the great western states, we will decarbonize the West.” 

Immediately following the announcement of Governor Gordon’s WGA Chair Initiative, he signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Governor Jared Polis pledging to work together to advance the capabilities of direct air capture in their respective states.  

“Technologies like direct air capture that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere are necessary tools to address climate change, and we applaud this bipartisan effort by Governor Polis and Governor Gordon to advance these technologies here in the West,” said Patrick Cummins, Senior Western Regional Policy Manager at Clean Air Task Force. “Colorado and Wyoming are leading efforts on carbon removal, and this new partnership will help the industry move forward while benefiting communities in both states.” 

“The US must deploy the full spectrum of carbon management technologies to achieve climate objectives.  Direct Air Capture (DAC) technologies provide opportunities to mitigate current CO2 emissions from difficult-to-abate emission sectors," said Matt Fry, the senior policy manager of Carbon Management at the Great Plains Institute who was recently appointed to the White House Council on Environmental Quality CCUS Task Force. "Additionally, DAC technologies are able to remove historic emissions of CO2 from the atmosphere to further reduce climate impacts.  Synergistic partnerships, such as this one between the States of CO and WY, will incentivize project deployment by allowing states to capitalize on their existing resources and policies - further “opening them for business” as a destination for carbon management industries.  This is the type of leadership needed to meet our Nation’s climate and energy demands.” 

"Transitioning Direct Air Capture from an early stage innovation to a gigaton-scale industry that can meaningfully contribute to solving the climate crisis will ultimately be a function of two parallel, interdependent, and equally important areas of activity - one concerning market development, the other regulation," said Chris Neidl, the co-founder of the OpenAir Collective, and the Director of Initiatives at Rethinking Removals. "The first relates to the rate of technological and commercial maturation achieved by carbon removal suppliers, investors, and buyers. The second concerns the extent to which regulators are able to create conducive conditions for the safe deployment of DAC and CO2 storage infrastructure at a scale and pace commensurate with science-aligned imperatives. The agreement just put in place by Colorado and Wyoming represents the clearest and most serious intervention by state governments, to date, in making serious progress in this second critical area. It is a defining moment for the U.S. carbon removal and storage economy, setting a critical new bar for responsible action and good policy." 

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