Calling the Western United States “the breadbasket of energy,” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert summed up a central theme for this year’s Western Governors’ Association meeting, which took place June 28-June 30 in Park City, Utah.
According to the Deseret News, governors in attendance—including Herbert; Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead; and Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter—sat together with representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy on a panel discussion focused on expanding energy production in the region.
Mead, whose state is at the center of a controversial coal export plan, trumpeted the fact that Wyoming already exports more energy than any state in the nation. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, meanwhile, said that his state had just enacted legislation to retire all of its coal-fire plants by 2025, according to the Associated Press.
Otter, for his part, said the feds need to do a better job combating forest fires, which have pumped more carbon and other pollutants into the air than all the coal-fired power purchased by the state.
The meeting, which according to the WGA website offered the 22 governors in attendance a sneak peek of The Lone Ranger, also included the unveiling of a “10-Year Energy Vision” statement by the association which is intended as a roadmap for national policy.
Introduced by Herbert, the report calls for, among other things, reducing imports of non-North American oil by ramping up domestic production; streamlining regulations and cutting permit review time to three years on federal lands; restoring financing for geothermal exploration; establishing permanent solutions for storage of spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste; putting in place a raft of energy efficiency measures for commercial as well as residential buildings; beefing up the region’s electrical transmission and gas pipeline system; and recognizing the importance of renewables, as well as coal, natural gas and nuclear power.
While no specific mention was made in the report of global climate change, it did include a call for Western states to “strive to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases” through a combination of promoting “energy technologies and sources that lower greenhouse emissions” and working to ensure that those technologies are affordable and operating “on an equal playing field regarding regulations, tax incentives and other factors.”
On the heels of the WGA annual meeting, PowerEngineering.com reported July 1 that Richland, Wash.-based power supplier Energy Northwest—which operates solar, hydroelectric, wind and nuclear power facilities near the Columbia River—has partnered with Portland, Ore.-based nuclear technology company NuScale to study construction of a commercial, small-sized nuclear power plant “potentially in Southeastern Idaho” by 2024.
The power facility could include between six and 12 “small module reactors” and be located at a site like the Idaho National Laboratory.
Previous plans by other groups to build nuclear power generation in Idaho have met with failure, and no new nuclear plants of any size have entered service in the United States since the mid-1990s.