Board of Directors Toolkit

Providing you with the tools and resources you need to be a WRA ambassador.

Mission

  • WRA fights climate change and its impacts to sustain the environment, economy, and people of the West.

Vision

  • Vibrant western communities run on clean energy.
  • Western rivers are thriving even in the face of climate change.
  • The distinct landscapes of the West are protected, healthy, and accessible.

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Western Resource Advocates is a regional nonprofit advocacy organization fighting climate change and its impacts to sustain the environment, economy, and people of the West. We are driving state-level action with policies that advance a healthier and more equitable future for all our communities. As the Interior West’s go-to experts for more than three decades, our on-the-ground work deploys clean energy and protects air, land, water, and wildlife.
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Flower Power - This Pika has clipped off flowers and is running to its secret storage hiding place to store them for a cold winter’s day.

The Challenge

Climate change and its impacts are the biggest environmental threat we have faced during our history.
  • Climate change affects our health, ability to grow food, housing, safety, and work and exacerbates every conservation challenge.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions are changing the Earth’s climate, which is causing warming temperatures and rising sea levels.
  • Each community is unique in terms of its resilience and vulnerability to climate change. In the West, we are experiencing soaring temperatures that accompany unhealthy air in many of the major cities across the region. WRA knows we have to act now to change things.

WRA has a three-year strategic plan that acknowledges this critical window, and supplies the framework and strategies for exponentially expanding our impact. WRA has ambitious goals to make a difference during this critical time.

WRA has more than three decades of experience driving state action to effectively address complex conservation problems. We leverage what we have learned from our long history to focus our resources on addressing climate change and its impacts.

State action can significantly reduce carbon emissions and create sustainable protections for rivers and lands at the scale that is necessary.

WRA uses technical, legal, regulatory, and advocacy expertise and a deep understanding of the region to achieve three critical goals:
  • Decarbonize electricity production and electrify other sectors of the economy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 120 million tons.
  • Ensure states use 25% less water and protect the Colorado River and other key rivers.
  • Protect 30% of western lands in each major ecoregion and ensure commitments are in place to achieve 50% protection by 2050.

Climate change is a threat multiplier – it drives up temperatures, speeds the evaporation of water, increases habitat loss, and amplifies air pollution. The time is now to address these impacts by joining a community of people who are fighting for a livable climate, thriving wildlife, and beautiful, protected landscapes for all to enjoy. Driving state action is how we will get there.

As the region gets hotter and drier, unsustainable demands on dwindling water supplies threaten rivers and the people, fish, and wildlife that depend on them. At the same time, the climate crisis and rapid land development have spurred a loss of habitat and an impending extinction crisis across the places we love.

Haley mountain biking in Colorado.

WHY I GIVE

From my home in Grand Lake, Colorado, the view is deeply scarred by the East Troublesome Fire, which in the fall of 2020 scorched the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park and the entire headwaters area of the Colorado River. It’s a perpetual and sobering reminder of the current and long-term impacts of climate change. WRA, with its deeply scientific approach and passionate commitment to our climate, land, air, and water, gives me much needed reassurance that there is indeed hope for the future.
Carla Hamre Donelson
WRA Board Chair

“We have 3 young kids and giving them a healthy and beautiful world is important to us. We believe climate change is the greatest threat to their future and we wanted to do something to be part of the solution. We researched buying solar panels, but realized that we could leverage our money more effectively by donating to WRA.”

Erica C., Donor from Salt Lake City

Yadira-Sanchez

“Through the concise cultivation of key relationships, WRA is ensuring that underrepresented communities are at the forefront of decision making and that equity is always centered at the table. The organization utilizes its unique understanding of the West and the issues we are facing to ensure that the most impactful solutions are being implemented. ”

Yadira Sanchez, Executive Director of Poder Latinx and WRA Board Member

jamie-starr

“Through its distinctive expertise and relationships, WRA is uniquely positioned to create lasting solutions to the most pressing issues facing the West, and it does so in a way that sustains the diverse environmental, community, and economic fabric of the region. It’s a recipe that has developed and proven out over more than three decades — and it works.”

Jamie Starr, WRA Board Member

“We feel lucky to be able support WRA’s environmental and climate work in New Mexico. The focus and depth WRA brings to strengthening the regulation of NM’s state petroleum and utility industries is something we have come to count on.”

Mary M, Donor from New Mexico

HOW DOES WRA COMPARE TO OTHER ORGANIZATIONS?

Targeted

While we may be frustrated at the stagnation and lack of action at the federal level or fear the reversal if a new administration comes into office, WRA’s work on state level policy is more achievable, and can be more durable and long lasting. State action is the place where real solutions can be targeted to specific problems.

Solutions-Oriented

WRA works with all different types of partners and decision makers – across demographics and political parties – focused on what works. We know that working together is critical to finding the best path forward and we’re willing to work with people who are interested in climate solutions.

Expertise

WRA is recognized across the region and nationally because of our experts. While individuals may feel like they don’t know what to do to address climate change, WRA has experts in water, energy, and conservation policy and law and has a clear plan to address climate change and its impacts.

Track Record

Over the last 35 years, WRA has established a clear track record in getting things done. When we started, many didn’t believe that we could reduce emissions region wide across the West, now we’ve reduced 75 million tons of emissions from being released annually and have worked with major utilities like Xcel to have a plan towards 80% renewable energy.

WHAT DOES WRA DO?

  • WRA takes ambitious ideas — thriving rivers with abundant waters, an economy that runs on zero-emissions energy, and lands that are protected and connected — and we figure out the complex path to how. We use ingenuity and practicality that is informed by research to drive change for a more sustainable future.
  • Our regional offices serve as hubs for our team of experts to leverage our unique policy, legal, and advocacy strengths and drive solutions on a scale that is proportionate to the complicated issues we face.
  • WRA builds policy solutions that work! We address urgent conservation problems and by collaborating with diverse groups, we are tackling our region’s most pressing challenges and successfully reducing carbon emissions, protecting rivers, and redefining how land for our wildlife and communities is protected and connected.
  • We support communities most affected by climate change by advocating for inclusion and ensuring all voices are heard.
  • We create transformational change by driving action at the state level to effectively address complex conservation problems in the West.
  • We advocate in front of state utility commissions, shape policy with state legislators, and educate local decision makers on how to advance conservation.
  • We create and advocate for evidence-based policies informed by science and community needs that drive change and create accountability.

HOW DO WE DO IT?

  • We work across seven states in the Interior West and have learned that we achieve the best results when we focus on the venues where decisions are made — at state legislatures, within state agencies and commissions, and working directly with utilities, local governments, and municipalities.
  • WRA draws on our experience, partnerships, and technical expertise to develop legislation and regulatory action, engage state agencies and commissions, and encourage citizen engagement to fight climate change and its impacts in our region.
  • Our regional approach allows us to implement solutions that have worked across the West and get results at scale while integrating the unique cultural and political landscape of each individual state.
We drive state action in four key ways:

WRA Works With:

  • State-level policies play a major role in protecting the livability of our communities, addressing climate change, and protecting the environment. The power of state legislatures includes modifying existing laws and creating new ones, developing the state government’s budget, and confirming executive appointments.
  • WRA’s experts work with state lawmakers to craft sound policies, testify in committee hearings, review proposed amendments, and work with legislators and their staffs to ensure the final policy is effective and viable. We also work to stop bills that would slow progress on climate action.
  • State agencies are often charged with implementing statutes developed by the legislature. These agencies significantly influence how funding is directed, and when, where, and how specific programs are executed.
  • WRA partners with governors and their administrations across the region to advise, draft legislative language, and partner in policy priorities.
  • State commissions are set up to provide oversight, protect the public interest, and approve and implement rules and regulations with major impacts such as environmental protection and electricity rates.
  • Since the early 1990s, WRA has achieved results by working with stakeholders in commissions, bringing forward proposals, and building evidentiary records for solutions that protect communities and the environment.
  • Reliable, affordable electricity services are essential to modern life, and as a result, are highly regulated. Electric utilities provide homes and businesses with power and can provide an alternative to the use of fossil fuels in end uses like transportation and home heating. One decision from a utility can have huge climate and air quality impacts.
  • While state regulatory commissions are an important venue for holding utilities accountable, utilities themselves can go above and beyond baseline regulations and effect change through their actions and business decisions.
  • Collaborating with utilities has long been part of WRA’s success in accelerating retirement of coal-burning power plants, expediting adoption of clean energy resources, advancing equitable access to the benefits of clean energy, and securing nation-leading energy commitments.
  • Programs at the local level serve as critical proof of concept when working to pass new legislation or socialize a program with other municipalities or local governments. These local programs also encourage broader state and regional action and can help make significant progress toward achieving state and regional goals.
  • County and municipal leaders can best evaluate the needs of a community and implement on-the-ground solutions quickly with support and buy-in from their residents. Local governments are also where the rubber meets the road when implementing the many statewide laws we work hard to pass at the legislature.
  • WRA has provided policy design and technical support for priority federal legislation and administrative climate policies that reflect equitable state and regional climate objectives.
  • As federal policy is enacted, we support state and local implementation and recommend and advocate for federal resources where they can have the biggest impact to achieve accelerated climate progress in Western states and communities.
  • It is nearly impossible to achieve our region’s clean energy and climate goals without expanded transmission capacity and a regional transmission market to cost-effectively move clean electricity across large geographic areas. That’s why WRA is advancing the formation of a regional transmission organization in the West.
At any given time, WRA is:
  • Writing and advocating for legislation or ensuring proper enforcement of the law that results in successful outcomes.
  • Testifying in front of state utility commissions and other state agencies or educating local decision makers.
  • Leveraging research and data to help state governments, agencies, and commissions shape and assess laws and rules that drive change and create accountability.
  • Collaborating and building relationships with a broad and diverse group of partners to ensure laws are passed and implemented in good faith to yield real results.
  • Galvanizing coalitions and communities around the most impactful and pragmatic solutions.
Supporting Diverse Communities & Working in Coalitions

WRA is committed to working with advocates in environmental justice, conservation, health, and business to make meaningful progress on reaching the Interior West’s near-term climate goals. In addition, we work closely with state and regional utilities, regulatory bodies, government agencies and academic organizations to advance our goals of clean energy, water, transportation, and air.

At WRA, we know that when we protect the health of the environment, we also protect the health and well-being of communities that rely on it for their lives and livelihoods. We believe it is vital to build relationships with a broad group of allies to ensure the laws and rules we work hard to pass are implemented.

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Click on a state to see our list of partner organizations.

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How We Measure Success

We use our deep understanding of the region and policy to achieve three critical goals in the fight against climate change.
  • WRA is working to reduce emissions from the regional economy at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030 and 100% no later than 2050.
  • WRA is working to ensure Western states are using 25% less water and the Colorado and other key rivers are protected.
  • WRA is working to ensure 30% of Western lands in each major ecoregion are protected by 2030 and 50% by 2050.

OUR IMPACT

In the last five years alone, WRA has secured policies that have:
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Reduced annual greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 100 million tons from utilities in our region.
An electric car charging in California
Invested more than $700 million to electrify transportation.
Secured over $650 million in appropriations for land conservation.
Safeguarded 1,540 miles of Western rivers and streams to ensure healthy flows and thriving ecosystems.
Protected 8 million acres of Western land by securing new and additional layers of protection.
Raised $250 million in water plan and other state, regional, and local funding in Colorado since 2016.

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR 2024 GOALS

Clean Energy 2024 Updates

Healthy Rivers 2024 Updates

Western Lands 2024 Updates

Success Stories

Field Notes Articles, Recent Blog Posts & News Releases

ACC Ruling Abandons Authority to Conduct Environmental Reviews for Methane Gas Power Plants

PHOENIX – The Arizona Corporation Commission yesterday voted 4-1 to allow UniSource Electric to build a 200-megawatt methane gas plant...

Colorado’s Landmark Climate Win: the Xcel Clean Heat Plan Explained

To the average Coloradan, what matters most about energy policy is receiving reliable, affordable heat and power – and via...

Colorado Lawmakers Pass Landmark Legislation for Land, Air, and Water

While it may not have always been headline news in Colorado, the environment came out as a major winner this...

NV Energy Plans New Solar, Battery Storage, and Methane Gas Projects to Meet Soaring Customer Demand

CARSON CITY, NEVADA – The latest integrated resource plan (IRP) by NV Energy, recently previewed for stakeholders, calls for three...

Sources of Income

2024 Fundraising Goal:

$11,000,000

2017

2020

2023

Frequently Asked Questions

How does WRA define protected when addressing 30% and 50% of land protected goals?

WRA defines “protected” as shielded from new development, restored, and managed sustainably for ecological health and equitable public access. Protection ensures diverse wildlife habitat, thriving populations of native species, and enduring cultural values of lands and watersheds. It is also vital to resilient communities and ensures that all people share in the access and benefits of healthy, protected land and water.

Learn more: westernresourceadvocates.org/we-protect-lands-and-improve-habitat-and-access/30-protection-by-2030/

Why is the power sector the most important to address carbon emissions reductions to fight climate change?

The most abundant greenhouse gas, and the main cause of global temperature rise, is carbon dioxide (CO2). Reducing these carbon emissions, which are largely the product of burning fossil fuels, can have a real impact in addressing climate change. Burning fossil fuels occurs across all energy sectors, and knowing where to start is an important part of our solution.

The power sector continues to be the largest source of carbon emissions in the Interior West. It’s also key to driving down carbon emissions from transportation and buildings. We need the electricity that powers our cars and heats our building to come from clean and renewable resources. At the same time, renewable energy resources have become cheaper than fossil fuels across our region, and more utilities see opportunities in a clean energy future and believe it is in their financial interest to make that transition.

Bottom line: transforming the power sector sets our region on a trajectory to decarbonize other sectors. There is still much work to be done to replace coal-fired power with renewables and battery storage across the Interior West.

Learn more: westernresourceadvocates.org/climate-fix/

Why is WRA’s goal 80% of carbon emission by 2030?

Eighty percent by 2030 is not a figure WRA pulled out of thin air. The best science is clear: we must reduce economy-wide emissions of climate pollution at least 50% by 2030 and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. In 2021, the United States rejoined the Paris Agreement, an international treaty on climate change with the goal of keeping the rise of average global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). The same year, the U.S. set a Nationally Determined Contribution to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions 50-52% by 2030.

Following the setting of the Nationally Determined Contribution, various modeling efforts have been undertaken to identify the policies and quantify the emission reductions needed across various economic sectors in order to achieve our national emission reduction targets. The most compelling study is a meta-analysis of the results of six modeling efforts. This meta-analysis, developed by researchers at the Electric Power Research Institute, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and other institutions, found that rapidly decarbonizing the electricity sector is key to meeting the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution.

Specifically, the six models show that to meet the Nationally Determined Contribution, power sector emissions must decline an average of 84% below 2005 levels by 2030. A notable consistency across these various modelling efforts is the need for a rapid shift away from coal-fired generation. Another theme across the models is a precipitous decline in the use of coal for electricity. Under modelled scenarios, coal generation declines by 90% to 100% by 2030 to meet the national greenhouse gas emissions target.

Learn more: westernresourceadvocates.org/the-80-by-2030-goal-why-the-decarbonization-standard-matters

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