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Western Governors Try to Balance the Scales of Power

June 30, 2008

Boise, ID – Western governors meeting today in Jackson Hole, Wyo., are considering ways their states can meet the changing demands of energy, water and climate. The group, including Gov. Butch Otter, has approved recommendations for exercising more care in oil, gas, and electricity development in order to lessen the impact on people, land, water and wildlife.

Wildlife biologist Steve Torbit, with the National Wildlife Federation, served on committees writing the recommendations. He says the group discussed the new energy highways needed throughout the West.

"If we’re going to be the energy colony for the rest of the country, the siting of large electric transmission lines has to be done in a way that avoids these critical wildlife areas."

Torbit says western governors consider wildlife an equal to energy production in terms of cash for local economies, which is why there is a new focus on preserving the West's outdoor traditions.

"The Governors passed this resolution to take a hard look at how to conserve important habitat areas for wildlife, and the corridors that connect them."

The Governors have approved recommendations that all energy development should adjust for wildlife, which Torbit says is 180-degrees from today’s view that wildlife should adjust to development. Water shortages and climate change are also on the governors’ agenda.

The Western Governors Association Conference agenda is available online at

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - ID