Urgent State Action

State-level policies play a major role in protecting the livability of communities, in addressing climate change, and in protecting the environment.

State policy is a powerful lever of change

State action can significantly reduce carbon emissions and create sustainable protections for rivers and lands in the face of climate change.

For more than three decades, WRA has used public policy to drive reductions in carbon emissions from the utility sector and to make clean energy investments. WRA works with state lawmakers and state agencies to develop and implement policies that regulate utilities to reduce carbon emissions across our region, and ultimately, to do our part to help limit global temperature rise to 2° Celsius. States can create bold environmental protections, even inspiring further federal action. For example, the federal Wildlife Corridor Conservation Act was modeled and enacted after nine states passed legislation promoting wildlife corridors and connectivity.

States also fill in gaps in federal legislation and step up when the federal government steps back from environmental protection. Changing administrations and congressional majorities are challenges to federal action to protecting the environment, making states the ideal venue for lasting environmental, conservation, and climate policy. The models we test and learn from at the state and local level can then be applied to other states and regions. Recognizing that environmental issues don’t stop at state boundaries, WRA’s approach allows for significant regional impact as well.

state capitol
new mexico state capitol

Where We Work

WRA works across seven states in the Interior West and achieves substantial results by focusing on the venues where decisions are made — at state legislatures, within state agencies and commissions, and working directly with utilities, local governments, and municipalities.

  • We advocate in front of state utility commissions, shape policy with state legislators, and educate local decision makers on how to advance conservation.
  • We use science and research to help state and local governments shape and assess laws and rules that drive change and create accountability.
  • We collaborate and build relationships with a broad and diverse group of allies to ensure laws are passed and implemented in good faith to yield real results for all communities.
  • We support communities most affected by climate change by advocating for inclusion and ensuring all voices are heard where decisions are made.
Denver city hall building aerial shot

Stages of state action

Develop

We work with key decision makers, including state lawmakers, regulatory commissioners, local elected leaders, and government agencies and their staff, to craft the most effective policies based on research and science to fight climate change and its impacts in our region.

Enact

Working closing with key stakeholders and conservation champions, we ensure the passage of critical laws and policies that support our goals of tackling climate change, safeguarding healthy rivers, protecting and connecting lands and habitats, while also working to stop legislative bills and rules that would impede progress. We play an instrumental role in galvanizing coalitions and other partners around the best possible solutions and unify the conservation community in support of the most effective, impactful, and equitable strategies.

Implement

Once a law or policy is passed, there are many more steps to ensure it is effectively implemented. WRA works closely with lawmakers, utilities, and other stakeholders to make sure that the letter and spirit of these laws and policies are effectively enforced.

Ensure Accountability

We hold key decision makers accountable and ensure that the adopted policies are implemented effectively, in a timely manner and reach their committed milestones and targets.

congress

Leveraging Federal/State Funding

The passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act in 2022, American Rescue Plan Act in 2021, and the Great American Outdoors Act in 2020, add historic federal investments for confronting climate change — building America’s clean energy economy; addressing much-needed habitat, river and watershed protection and restoration; and infusing critical funding for maintenance improvements on national forests and grasslands.

Looking forward, WRA will leverage the considerable federal funding and incentives included in these bills to advance the very best state policy solutions within the Interior West that:

  • Meet and expand state land protection goals, accelerate habitat reclamation, and safeguard wildlife.
  • Defend and restore communities and ecosystems from catastrophic wildfires.
  • Sustain and expand decarbonization goals among the power, transportation, and building sectors.
  • Advance sustainable river and watershed management and restoration in a drier, hotter West.

Important updates from WRA’s experts – straight to your inbox.

Western Resource Advocates