Western Governors call for swift adoption, implementation of national energy plan

Concepts and Solutions

Concepts and Solutions

Letter to President-elect Obama focuses on affordadble, clean energy to sustain economy, stimulate efficiency, stengthen energy security, reduce greenhouse gases

WASHINGTON — In a letter to President-elect Barack Obama, Western governors today urged swift action in adopting and implementing a national energy plan and proposed a number of measures that would transform the country’s energy infrastructure and economy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Governors Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., Chairman of the Western Governors’ Association, and Brian Schweitzer, Vice Chairman, discussed the WGA’s bipartisan recommendations with John Podesta, co-chair of Obama transition team.

“The transformation we are talking about is broad based and will require new policies, incentives, market mechanisms and private-public partnerships to be in place by the end of next year,” Huntsman said. “We plan to work with the new Administration and Congress in addressing the multitude of energy challenges ahead.”

The governors’ letter outlines policies and incentives that would help states and the country move more aggressively to develop clean and renewable energy resources that include wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydro and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage.

“Western states are the country’s energy breadbasket, but energy efficiency has also got to play a much bigger role,” Schweitzer said. “That includes everything from manufacturing more fuel-efficient vehicles to changing regulatory structures so they reward utilities for achieving reduced energy usage among their customers.”

In their letter, the governors said a national energy policy must promote energy efficiency; reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a scale necessary to contribute to climate stabilization; maximize the economic development opportunities offered by clean energy; ensure energy costs are affordable and support a sustainable, growing economy; increase the proportion of energy supplies that come from domestic resources and friendly trading partners; and minimize adverse environmental impacts.

The governors’ recommendations include:

  • Establishment of an aggressive and achievable national greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal that will put the United States on a path to contribute to global climate stabilization.
  • A mandatory national system for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that makes maximum use of market-based mechanisms. Revenue raised should not be used as a means of sustaining or expanding general governmental operations.
  • A national energy efficiency program to reduce existing and future energy demand and thereby reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Establishment of an oil import reduction goal that strengthens energy security and independence. Since nearly 90 percent of oil is used for transportation, an energy plan must bring more fuel-efficient and near-zero emission vehicles into the market; increase the supply of domestically produced, low-carbon fuels; minimize the economic and technological uncertainties inherent in deploying high efficiency vehicles and developing and using non-petroleum transportation fuels; and reduce vehicle miles traveled and increase mass movement of people and goods.
  • Affordability for lower income energy consumers through energy efficiency and cost assistance programs.
  • Measures that support workforce development and clean energy jobs, adaptation to climate change impacts, reduced consumer impacts — particularly for low-income consumers — and transition assistance to industries.

Creation of a substantial, long-term national public investment on the scale of tens of billions of dollars annually will be needed, along with a similar investment from the private sector, to support the kind of basic and applied research and deployment of clean energy technology and infrastructure that will result in:

  • Near-zero greenhouse gas emissions from new coal-fired electricity generation in 10 years and from existing generation no later than 2030.
  • Dramatically increased energy from wind, solar, geothermal, hydro and biomass resources.
  • Expansion and upgrade of the electricity transmission grid and storage capabilities.
  • Advanced vehicle and battery technologies and alternative transportation fuels.
  • Next generation energy efficiency technologies and practices.

Additional information on WIH Resource Group’s energy solutions and programs can be found on the Web at www.wihresourcegroup.com.

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. 

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