PARK CITY, Utah — Western governors have unveiled a regional 10-year energy “vision” that stresses cooperation among states in interstate projects such as transmission lines, increased oil production and modernization of pipeline infrastructure.
At the same time, the document released by the Western Governors Association calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting wildlife and supporting technologies that reduce water demand.
The plan also calls for promotion of increased energy efficiency, including building standards that go beyond the minimum.
Governors also discussed education and health care reform efforts during their three-day meeting, which ended Sunday in Park City, the Deseret News reported (http://bit.ly/13gzqq3 ).
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, chairman of the association, said the energy plan stems from bipartisan cooperation and represents a first step toward a blueprint for the entire country that promotes economic growth while protecting the environment.
But the Sierra Club and Earthjustice criticized a recommendation to shave the review and permitting process for energy and transmission projects to three years.
“Generally speaking, that is a bad idea,” Heidi McIntosh, managing attorney for Earthjustice in Denver, told the Deseret News. “Today more than ever, projects carry with them some time-significant environmental costs to wildlife, water and other resources such as cultural resources. It takes time to look at those impacts carefully, and it requires expertise and oversight.”
The plan’s call for increased energy efficiency drew support from Utah Clean Energy, which has campaigned to get Utah lawmakers to adopt the most stringent international energy codes for new home construction.
“By prioritizing energy efficiency as the cornerstone of any energy strategy, the Western Governors Association’s 10-year energy vision includes a commonsense approach to meeting our growing energy demand, creating jobs and saving Utahns money, all while reducing our carbon footprint,” said Sarah Wright, executive director of Utah Clean Energy.
Among goals of the plan are to put the United States on a path to energy security by increasing North American oil production, and ensuring energy is clean, affordable and reliable by providing a balanced portfolio that includes renewable, traditional and nontraditional resources.