JACKSON HOLE, Wyoming (ABC4) – The Western Governors’ Association concluded its 2023 Winter Meeting this week. The meeting included discussions with U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland and concluded with the passing of four new bipartisan resolutions focused on strengthening the state-federal relationship.
“The challenges we face are real, but the solutions we’re creating together are bringing us closer to the future our communities deserve,” Secretary Haaland said. “Whether it’s the rapid deployment of the technologies we need to decarbonize the West, or collaboration to protect the lands, waters, and wildlife we all cherish, the West has undeniable potential. It’s this potential we must harness for the bold change we need, but the progress we make will ultimately rely on ongoing partnerships in the states represented here today.”
The WGA represents the governors of the 22 westernmost states and territories. The mission of the association is to develop bipartisan policy, exchange information and focus on issues that are of importance to the western U.S.
“An organization like WGA is only effective when all of the governors support the policymaking process that allows our Western states to speak with a unified voice on matters of mutual interest and concern,” Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon, the Chair of WGA, said. “The other thing that I appreciate is the fact that we are collegial, and we know how to have a little bit of fun.”
The following four resolutions will be added to 27 others approved by the WGA and define the policy and positions the association advocates for in Washington D.C.
Summaries of each policy resolution are listed below. Click any of the titles to read the full text of each resolution.
Improving state-federal communication and coordination is among the Western Governors’ highest priorities. In the absence of a Constitutional delegation of authority to the federal government, state authority should be presumed sovereign. Each executive department and agency should have a clear and accountable process to provide states with early, meaningful, and substantive input in the development of federal regulatory policies. Where authority has been delegated by the federal government to the states, states should be granted the maximum administrative discretion possible and should be treated as partners and co-regulators.
Western states contain over 75 percent of the national forest and grassland system, and communities in the West depend upon forests and rangelands for jobs, recreation, and quality of life. This resolution addresses a variety of national forest and rangeland challenges, emphasizing that effective management is only possible through coordination between federal, state, local, and tribal land management agencies, including collaborative, cross-boundary management strategies. The resolution articulates Western Governors’ policy recommendations relating to wildfire mitigation, suppression, and recovery. It also addresses major land management topics such as workforce development, infrastructure for active forest management, grazing administration, and forest products.
This resolution updates Western Governors’ policy positions on species management and conservation issues. The resolution expresses the Governors’ support for increased voluntary and proactive management efforts and use of best available science, while acknowledging the variability in state approaches to wildlife and habitat conservation. The resolution also contains Western Governors’ policy on wildlife migration corridors and habitat.
The opioid epidemic has become one of the nation’s most devastating and lethal public health and safety crises. This new resolution highlights the challenges posed by the potency and availability of these drugs and the social and economic damage they inflict on communities and contains Western Governors’ policy related to combating rising rates of opioid use disorders, overdoses, and deaths. The Governors support efforts to identify and mitigate emerging threats, curb the supply and distribution of illicit opioids and the inappropriate use of prescriptions, and provide access to a full range of effective prevention, treatment, and recovery approaches.