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Letters/Testimony

LETTER: WGA, leading policy groups, seek collaboration with Congress on budget development

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Six leading policy organizations, led by the Western Governors' Association, reached out to Congressional leadership on May 22, 2017, to reiterate their "Shared Principles on Federalism" as Congress formulates a budget and enacts appropriations for fiscal year 2018. "States and local governments are eager to work with the federal government as authentic partners," the letter states, and "we hope to engage with federal agencies at the earliest stages of federal decision-making and program development."

TESTIMONY: James D. Ogsbury on H.R. 2371 and Water Rights Protection Act Discussion Draft

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James D. Ogsbury, Executive Director of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), testified on April 14, 2015, on behalf of the WGA May 18, 2017, on behalf of Western Governors before the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans. The testimony addressed states’ rights to manage and allocate their water resources, and reminded that states are best situated to understand their own unique legal frameworks, local hydrology and citizen needs. In addition, Western Governors asserted they welcome the opportunity to partner with the Subcommittee and federal agencies to maintain states’ authority.

LETTER: WGA shares menu of reforms in response to Executive Order, 'Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda'

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The Western Governors' Association reached out to The White House on May 15, 2017, in response to President Trump’s Executive Order, Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda, which requires federal agencies to seek input and assistance from states. Western Governors believe realigning the relationship of the federal government and states so that it operates as a true partnership is one of the most important reforms the President could undertake. WGA's outreach included an agency-by-agency menu of reforms for consideration by the White House and departmental Regulatory Reform Task Forces informed by Governors’ past interactions with federal agencies.

LETTER: Western Governors support sharing of revenues derived from renewable energy leasing on federal lands with states, counties

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The Western Governors' Association sent a letter on May 11, 2017, to leadership of the  the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to reiterate Western Governors’ longstanding support for the sharing of revenues derived from renewable energy leasing on federal lands with impacted states and counties. The Governors support deployment of renewable energy projects in western states, but seek to minimize the impacts of energy infrastructure through shared lease revenues.

COMMENTS: Environmental Protection Agency proposal to add natural gas processing facilities to Toxic Release Inventory

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The Western Governors’ Association provided comments on May 5, 2017 to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the agency's proposal to add natural gas processing (NGP) facilities to the scope of sectors covered by reporting requirements of the Toxic Release Inventory. The Governors requested, in part, that EPA should determine whether adding such facilities to the program is necessary. If so, the agency should work closely with Western Governors and state regulators to ensure that new federal regulations work in concert with state regulations and do not create undue financial burdens for NGP facilities.

TESTIMONY: WGA advocates for Fiscal Year 2018 to House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies

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James D. Ogsbury, Executive Director of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), submitted testimony on May 3, 2017, on behalf of Western Governors before the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies. The testimony shared the Western Governors' views on the appropriations and activities of the federal agencies under the Subcommittee’s jurisdiction. The testimony, in part, advocated: support for updating and building new infrastructure for existing water, wastewater and hydropower facilities; continued federal data collection, monitoring, and drought information programs; funding for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Transportation Safety Program.

LETTER: Concerns about provisions in proposed Hydropower Policy Modernization Act of 2017

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The Western Governors' Association sent a letter on May 1, 2017, to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to express concerns about provisions in Section 34 of the proposed Hydropower Policy Modernization Act of 2017 that designate the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as lead agency for all hydropower authorizations, approvals, and requirements mandated by federal law. The Governors requested that this language be removed or amended so that existing state hydropower licensing authorities are not replaced, or in any way impeded, by FERC jurisdiction.

LETTER: Senate committee should consider WGA resolution on SRS, PILT programs

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The Western Governors' Association sent a letter to leadership of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in advance of its May 2, 2017 hearing to examine issues surrounding the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act and the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program. In particular, WGA urged Chairman Lisa Murkowski and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell to consider the Western Governors’ Association Policy Resolution 2017-03, Tax-Exempt Federal Lands and Secure Rural Schools.

LETTER: Royalty burdens on new and existing mining operations on federal lands

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The Western Governors' Association sent a letter on April 27, 2016, to Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, regarding the possible imposition of royalty burdens on new and existing mining operations on federal lands. Western Governors recommend that any system for the collection of royalties on the production of hardrock minerals should be developed in close consultation with states, as well as relevant stakeholders in the mining industry.

LETTER: Governors seek to participate in work on Executive Order, "Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda"

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Western Governors reached out on April 19, 2017, to leadership of the Department of the Interior, Army Corps of Engineers and Department of Agriculture in regards to President Trump’s Executive Order, "Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda," which requires federal agencies to critically examine their regulatory processes. In particular, the Governors appreciate the order's explicit requirement that federal agencies seek input and assistance from states, and request the opportunity to participate in the regulatory reform review.

LETTER: Support for expedited review of reintroduced Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act

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Western Governors on April 3, 2017, urged leadership of the House Natural Resources Committee to give an expedited review to the bipartisan legislation, the Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act, on its reintroduction. The Governors noted their previous support of the legislation, which helps ensure reliable electricity service and reduces the risk of fires and fire hazards that result from inadequate vegetation management on power line rights-of-way. The letter emphasized that “Western Governors recognize the importance of appropriate fire management and proactive wildfire mitigation” and are “committed to safeguarding and enhancing the reliability of the region’s electric transmission grid.”

LETTER: Full funding sought for Payment in Lieu of Taxes, Secure Rural Schools programs

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Western Governors on March 16, 2017, sent letters to House and Senate Appropriations leadership requesting their "active support and full funding" of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes and Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act programs for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2017 and throughout Fiscal Year 2018. Western Governors have long advocated that the federal government must fulfill its obligation to fund these programs for rural counties that rely on them to provide necessary government services to their citizens.

Letter: Governors offer analysis, recommendations to Army Corps on regulation of "surplus waters"

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Western Governors sent a letter on Feb. 27, 2017, to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) about its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to govern the use of its reservoir projects within the Missouri River Basin, pursuant to Section 6 of the Flood Control Act of 1944. The Governors assert that as the primary authority over water management and allocation within their borders, states must not be required to relinquish any rights to natural flows of rivers which have been impounded by USACE. In addition, USACE must define “surplus water” to exclude natural flows which would have occurred without the development of federal water projects.

Letter: Governors reiterate concerns, request extension of comment period for Financial Responsibility Requirements under CERCLA

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Western Governors sent a letter on Feb. 21, 2017, to Barbara Foster in the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about its proposed rule, Financial Responsibility Requirements under CERCLA § 108(b) for Classes of Facilities in the Hardrock Mining Industry. The letter reiterated several concerns, including a lack of substantive state engagement during rule development and potential preemption of existing state regulations. The Governors also requested a 120-day comment period extension.

TESTIMONY: Modernization of the Endangered Species Act

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James D. Ogsbury, Executive Director of the Western Governors’ Association, submitted testimony on February 15, 2017, before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in regards to "Modernization of the Endangered Species Act." The testimony noted, in part: "The ESA is premised on a strong state-federal partnership. Western Governors submit that such cooperation should involve full and authentic partnership between the states and Services with respect to species listing, critical habitat designations, establishment of recovery goals and delisting decisions."

Letter: Governors concerned by final BLM Planning 2.0 Rule

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Western Governors expressed concern to Congressional leadership on Feb.10, 2017, about the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule, Resource Management Planning (Planning 2.0). The Governors are disappointed by BLM’s failure to adequately involve western states in the Rule’s development, and they oppose certain provisions of the Dec. 12, 2016, final rule. Western Governors are concerned by BLM’s changes to provisions regarding Governors’ consistency reviews for new and revised resource management plans and an emphasis on landscape-scale planning that could lead to an emphasis on national objectives over state and local objectives.

LETTER: Governors support use of enhanced oil recovery

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Western Governors sent a letter to Senators Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid, and Representatives Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi, on Nov. 30, 2016, in support of the responsible use of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) using carbon dioxide (CO2) and to encourage that the bipartisan Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage Act (S. 3179) be considered as a potential amendment to any appropriate legislation subject to adoption by Congress.

LETTER: Vessel Incidental Discharge Act

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The Western Governors' Association sent a letter on Nov. 16, 2016, to Congressional and Armed Services Committee Leaders to express concerns regarding efforts in Congress to preempt state authorities to protect our waters from aquatic invasive species and water pollution. The letter focused on current versions of the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, and requested state consultation  before advancing statutory changes that would preempt state authorities.

LETTER: Governors call for end to "fire borrowing"

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Western Governors sent a letter on Nov. 15, 2016, to Congressional leaders reiterating their support for congressional efforts to end the so-called “fire borrowing” practice employed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Department of the Interior to fund wildfire suppression activities. The outreach urged Congress to "pass legislation to fund federal wildfires off-budget (as many states already do), and ensure the USFS budget for forest restoration, recreation, road maintenance, hazardous fuels reduction, funding to states to treat Wildland-Urban Interface areas, insect and disease response activities, and wildlife/watershed protection is fully restored."

COMMENTS: Consent-Based Process for transport, storage, disposal of commercial spent nuclear fuel and high-level defense radioactive waste

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Western Governors submitted comments on Oct. 31, 2016, to Office of Nuclear Energy Acting Assistant Secretary John Kotek on the input received by the Department of Energy regarding design of a consent-based process to establish an integrated waste management system to transport, store, and dispose of commercial spent nuclear fuel and high-level defense radioactive waste.

LETTER: Advancing Conservation and Education Act

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Western Governors sent letters on Oct. 26, 2016, to members of Congress involved in sponsoring the Advancing Conservation and Education Act. The Governors expressed appreciation for the leadership in advancing legislation to facilitate state-federal land exchanges and emphasized their desire for Congressional action to "simplify and expedite" the federal-state land exchange, sale and conveyance processes. 

COMMENTS: Endangered Species Act Compensatory Mitigation Policy

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Western Governors submitted comments on Oct. 17, 2016, to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe on the draft Endangered Species Act Compensatory Mitigation Policy. The comments requested that FWS engage in "substantive and ongoing consultation" with Governors and state regulators to create clarity around landscape-scale compensatory mitigation in the West and the definition of “net conservation gain.” 

LETTER: Governors reiterate need for 'substantial' state role in regional review of Section 386 corridors

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Western Governors sent letters on Oct. 13, 2016, to Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze and U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell to reiterate the need for "substantial" state consultation in the regional review of West-wide energy corridor designations mandated by Section 368 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The  letters -- follow-ups to previous outreach regarding the federal strategy and timeline for undertaking the regional reviews -- assert that the agencies' proposed regional review process, which is already underway, "falls short of the meaningful and substantial involvement that states expect and for which Governors have been asking since 2013."

LETTER: Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Species Act Compensatory Mitigation Policy

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Western Governors sent a letter on Sept. 27, 2016, to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe requesting a comment period extension of at least 45 days for the proposed Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Species Act Compensatory Mitigation Policy. The Governors called the current public comment timeframe 'inadequate" and "insufficient to accommodate thoughtful analysis," and emphasized the impact of the Proposal on western states and state species conservation.

LETTER: Western Governors express support for National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act

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Western Governors sent a letter on Sept. 21, 2016, to Congressmen Cynthia Lummis and Timothy J. Walz to express support for their bipartisan legislation, H.R. 845, the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act, that would expand National Forest trail maintenance efforts in the West. The letter emphasized the "urgent imperative to improve forest health in order to reduce wildfire threat and improve watersheds and habitat," and offered the Western Governors' help in getting the legislation to the President’s desk before the end of this Congress.

COMMENTS: Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act

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Western Governors sent the following comments on Aug. 17, 2016, to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy regarding its federalism assessment for the agency’s pending rulemaking under section 108(b) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) for the hardrock mining industry. The outreach stated: "Development of – and consultation with state partners regarding – EPA’s pending financial assurance rule for the hardrock mining sector has proven unsatisfactory."

LETTER: Western Governors express concern over EPA tightening of national ozone standard

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Western Governors sent a letter on Aug. 11, 2016, to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy; Office of Management and Budget Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Dr. Howard A. Shelanski; and Assistant to the President and Senior White House Adviser Brian C. Deese. The letter expressed concern regarding final revisions to EPA's Exceptional Events Rule, which is now undergoing White House review. The governors contend that EPA's decision to lower the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone will throw areas in the West into non-attainment status owing to factors outside state control. 

LETTER: Hydropower Licensing Authorities

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Western Governors sent a letter on July 18, 2016, to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce leadership regarding provisions in Subtitle B: Hydropower Regulatory Modernization of the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015. The Governors expressed concerns that this subtitle would designate the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as lead agency for all hydropower licensing authorities and requested that language be removed or amended so that existing state hydropower licensing authorities are not replaced or in any way impeded by FERC jurisdiction.

TESTIMONY: State Perspectives on BLM's Draft Planning 2.0 Rule

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James D. Ogsbury, Executive Director of the Western Governors’ Association, testified on July 7, 2016, before the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations regarding the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) recently released proposal, Resource Management Planning – or, Planning 2.0. The testimony shared the perspective of the Western Governors that BLM’s Planning 2.0 proposal, as drafted, presents serious challenges and contains significant shortcomings.

COMMENTS: Endangered & Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revisions to the Regulations for Petitions

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The Western Governors' Association shared comments on June 30, 2016, with Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Eileen Sobeck, Assistant Addministrator for NOAA Fisheries, in regard to the rulemaking, "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revisions to the Regulations for Petitions."  The comments express the Western Governors' concern with the withdrawal of several important provisions in the initial version of the proposed rule, and recommend the Services reinsert portions of the initial proposed rule that invites greater engagement with states when implementing the Endangered Species Act.

TESTIMONY: BLM Planning 2.0 Initiative

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James D. Ogsbury, Executive Director of the Western Governors’ Association, testified on June 21, 2016, before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining regarding the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) recently released proposal, Resource Management Planning – or, Planning 2.0. The testimony shared the perspective of the Western Governors that BLM’s Planning 2.0 proposal, as drafted, presents serious challenges and contains significant shortcomings.

COMMENTS: Proposed Revisions to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mitigation Policy

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Western Governors submitted comments on June 9, 2016, to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe on the Proposed Revisions to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mitigation Policy. The Governors requested FWS engage in substantive consultation with Governors and state regulators before finalizing the Proposal and that the “net conservation gain” principle be better defined – based on ongoing state consultation – in the final rule. The comments cited "complexities surrounding landscape-scale mitigation in the West, as well as the potential for inconsistent implementation of revised policy by different FWS offices" as main reasons for their concerns.

LETTER: Governors support enhanced oil recovery technology

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Western Governors sent a letter on June 3, 2016, to members of Congress involved in efforts to develop federal policy aimed at spurring deployment of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technology. Western Governors expressed their support for the responsible use of EOR using carbon dioxide (CO2), as it has proven to be "a safe and effective way to increase domestic oil production while sequestering millions of tons of CO2.

COMMENTS: Governors urge state consultation in BLM Planning 2.0 Initiative

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Western Governors sent the following comments on May 25, 2016, to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regarding its proposed rule, Resource Management Planning, under its Planning 2.0 Initiative. BLM's stated goal of the Proposal was to clarify existing language, address landscape-scale issues, and more effectively involve the public and other governmental entities. The Governors countered that "this attempt at clarity has failed," and instead creates more confusion and reduces transparency. The comments suggest meaningful consultation with Western Governors to remedy issues.