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Western governors release plans, policies to help ‘decarbonize the West’ amid climate change

Members of the Western Governors' Association discuss its "Decarbonizing the West" plan in Olympic Village, Calif., on Tuesday, June 11, 2024.
Western Governors' Association
Members of the Western Governors' Association discuss its "Decarbonizing the West" plan in Olympic Village, Calif., on Tuesday, June 11, 2024.

The Western Governors' Association, a group of 22 western governors, recently released its highly anticipated plan to decarbonize the West.

The report outlines how Western states can reduce, use, and capture carbon emissions while strengthening their economies in the process.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, chair of the Western Governors' Association (WGA), presented the plan at the group’s 40th-anniversary meeting in Olympic Village, Calif., near Lake Tahoe, on Tuesday, June 11, 2024.

“When we look at this wonderful picture of Lake Tahoe, what could be more important than to remember what our responsibilities are for our environment?” Gordon said. “This report will serve as a foundation for future Western governors’ policy and advocacy efforts.”

Gordon spearheaded the decarbonizing initiative back in June 2023. Over the past year, the WGA held workshops to develop the best policies and strategies to bolster that effort. That included a tour in September 2023 of a facility attached to the Dry Fork coal plant in Gillette, Wyoming, that was testing carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS).

Gordon said a major focus of the Western governors’ decarbonizing plan is to invest in these technologies. CCUS facilities aim to capture carbon produced by power plants, and either store it underground or use it to make products, like carbon fiber.

The report recommends several federal policies to help fund and approve these large-scale projects, which could create thousands of jobs across the West.

The WGA also wants Western states to lean into their abilities to naturally store and remove carbon from the atmosphere. The plan calls on the federal government to offer farmers more money to use techniques that remove carbon, such as planting more cover crops, and tilling less land. It also recommends the government pay private landowners to restore degraded forests, which can absorb large amounts of carbon.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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Kaleb is an award-winning journalist and KUNR’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter. His reporting covers issues related to the environment, wildlife and water in Nevada and the region.

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