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Who’s Being Heard In Washington? Governors Have Different Takes

Judy Fahys/KUER News
The governors of Utah and Colorado, Republican Gary Herbert and Democrat John Hickenlooper, respectively, shared their thoughts about energy on stage at Herbert's annual Energy Summit on Tuesday. Their views differ on how well Washington is listening.

The governors of neighboring Western states shared a stage Tuesday to talk about energy. Utah Republican Gary Herbert and Colorado Democrat John Hickenlooper agreed about many issues — until they were asked afterward about the Trump administration. That's when it became clear they have contrasting views on how the federal government is listening to the states.

Herbert applauds the Trump administration for giving states flexibility on federal regulations, like the Environmental Protection Agency, for instance.

“There’s just a lot of deference given to states,” said Herbert, “and I think that’s maybe one of the best things about the Trump administration.”

“We have people in other departments [of the Trump administration] who, again, whether they’re governors or not, have a respect for the sovereignty of the states and ar trying to give us more flexibility to find our solutions that are unique to the respective states.”

But Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said he’s concerned that, because of the Trump administration’s deregulation agenda, the middle ground’s being lost. Under the Trump administration, he said, sage grouse plans are being revamped after stakeholders hammered out an agreement over 18 months.

“I’m concerned that collaborative muscle” is being lost, he said,  “where not everyone gets what they want but everyone’s at the table and compromises allow everyone to — you know — even if they’re not crazy about the outcome they feel that they’ve been heard and they’ve improved the final outcome.”

Hickenlooper was in Salt Lake City for Herbert’s annual Energy Summit. Both governors are past chairs of the National Governors Association and the Western Governors Association.

The two also gave their take on energy policy in the region. Both described renewables as an important part of the West’s energy future.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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