Attended by two governors and partners from across the West, last Thursday’s Fall Event celebrated a year of progress for WRA. Governor John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and Governor Brian Sandoval (R-NV) each took the stage to receive WRA’s Kelley Green Conservation Leadership Award for advancing clean energy and managing the West’s arguably most precious resource—water.
Onstage, both governors expressed mutual respect for one another and described how clean energy and water conservation would benefit the economies and communities of their home states.
Governor Sandoval touched on his vision for Nevada as “a place where clean energy is one of our foundational building blocks.” He noted “over five billion dollars in renewable energy projects” installed in Nevada during his tenure, including the state’s growing “electric highway” and Tesla’s gigafactory, the largest battery manufacturing plant in the world.
Sandoval also commented on the Nevada Drought Forum, which he convened to develop long-term water conservation strategies benefiting communities, agriculture, business, and the environment. Sandoval said that the forum’s finalized recommendations would be “front and center in our next legislative session in 2017.”
“Clean drinking water, fresh air, and preserving our precious natural resources for future generations are priorities in Nevada,” Sandoval said, in a press statement. “In the Silver State, we’re investing in clean energy and water innovations in order to position our state as a global leader in resource management. I am humbled to receive this award on behalf of Nevada and the many farmers, ranchers, businesses, and conservation and community leaders who have helped make our efforts a continued success.”
Governor Hickenlooper highlighted the achievements of Colorado in tackling climate change and water management. He cited Colorado’s leadership on methane regulations and the positive groundwork laid by the Colorado Water Plan, Colorado’s first-ever plan advancing water conservation, reuse, and new options for sharing agricultural water. Hickenlooper noted that the “civic muscle” built by the thirty-two thousand stakeholders that participated in the plan’s collaborative process paved the way for more future progress.
Governor Hickenlooper shared this statement: “In Colorado, we work together to solve our toughest challenges. We’ve done it again and again, on energy development, on water, on climate. Of course many of us have different perspectives, and even some tough disagreements. But we all find places of consensus and make progress because we care deeply for our state. I’m grateful to accept this award on behalf of our communities, civic and business leaders, and residents who do the hard work that pushes us forward.”
WRA also presented an Emerging Leader Award to Kate Greenberg, Western Water Program Director of the National Young Farmers Coalition. Greenberg, who recently co-authored a report titled, How Young Farmers and Ranchers Are Essential to Tackling Water Scarcity in the Arid West, was selected for her work building a culture of sustainable water stewardship and land management among the agricultural leaders of tomorrow.
In her award acceptance speech, Greenberg emphasized the common vision shared by agriculture and conservation: “one of abundant life, both wild and domesticated. It’s a vision of rivers to run and to fish, of water for food. And it’s a vision of open space left to roam…[T]his award is a recognition of that vision.”
She also called on young people to “find their voice…and use their passion, skill, and any microphone before them to forge creative solutions to protect natural resources and the people that steward them.”
WRA President Jon Goldin-Dubois concluded by thanking attendees for their generous support and reminding us all why there are reasons to be optimistic about addressing climate change—including technological advancements, the continual drop in the cost of renewable energy, jobs generated by renewables, and vast support for clean energy from consumers.
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We sincerely thank all of the sponsors, conservation leaders, businesses, and community members that attended the Annual Fall Event. We are grateful for your generous donations and support!