Infrastructure Renewal Will Drive Governors' Efforts This Year

PHILADELPHIA, Pennesylvania, July 15, 2008 (ENS) – Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell Monday took the reins of the National Governors Association and announced that the organization’s annual Chair’s Initiative, chosen each year by the incoming leader, will focus on strengthening infrastructure investment.

“It is an honor to serve as NGA’s chair,” Governor Rendell said during the association’s Centennial meeting. “Out-going chair, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, deserves a tremendous amount of credit for moving America closer to clean energy. Just last week I signed legislation to invest more than $650 million in Pennsylvania’s alternative energy sector. Tim’s leadership has inspired every governor in the nation and once again states are taking the lead on this critical issue.”

Governor Ed Rendell receives the NGA
gavel from Governor Tim Pawlenty.
(Photo courtesy NGA)

“Over the past year, the nation’s attention has becoming increasingly focused on the growing energy challenges that face us,” said Governor Pawlenty. “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished as part of the Securing a Clean Energy Future Initiative, but our work is just beginning. It will take continued effort and renewed dedication to ensure that our country has an energy future that is safe, secure and clean.”

At the opening plenary session, the NGA announced a new state-industry partnership between the Securing a Clean Energy Future Initiative and General Motors Corporation to help states increase availability of E-85 fueling stations. E-85 is an alternative fuel consisting of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

Under the partnership, states will develop a strategy for installing E-85 pumps in key locations. GM will provide technical assistance to states in developing these strategies and will leverage their relationships with the automobile and ethanol industries to help states implement their strategies.

“There is no silver bullet available to solve this nation’s energy challenges,” said Rendell. “This will be an all-hands-on-deck, all-technologies-available effort.”

“Another significant challenge facing our nation is the rebuilding of its infrastructure,” said Rendell, who made a pledge in January with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to form a non-partisan national coalition that will lobby for federal investment in America’s decaying infrastructure.

“America’s infrastructure urgently needs attention,” said Rendell. “From outmoded ports to crumbling bridges to underinvestment in public transit, we must begin a new era of investment in the systems that support our prosperity and our quality of life.”

“If America is to continue competing in the global economic marketplace, we need an efficient and sound infrastructure. For the past two decades, state and local governments have been picking up more of the tab for infrastructure repair, but we can’t keep it up,” said Rendell.

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates national infrastructure needs of more than $1.6 trillion dollars over the next five years.

“Infrastructure funding – making sure our roads, bridges, schools, airports, trains, ports, and water systems are safe – is an issue about which I am very passionate,” said Governor Rendell. “It started when I was mayor of Philadelphia and continues today because I see that our nation’s aging infrastructure is hurting our economic stability and hampering future growth.”

“Businesses and communities can’t survive if they can’t get their products to market, educate their students and access safe water supplies,” he said.

“State and local governments now fund 75 percent of all infrastructure work. We will need the federal government to step up significantly if we are to fully meet this challenge. I will continue to work with my fellow governors to give these issues the attention they deserve,” said Rendell.

As NGA chairman, Governor Rendell will work with other states to design and implement strategies for smarter, more cost-effective infrastructure investment at the state level.

In addition, states will be challenged in the coming years to align their infrastructure investments with the new realities of climate change, and Governor Rendell will work with states to design strategies to accomplish this.

The National Governors Association is celebrating its 100th anniversary during 2008.

U.S. Route 6 through Iowa was broken up
by the June floods. (Photo by Dave
Darby, Iowa US Route 6 Tourist Assn.)

In May of 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt hosted the first meeting of the nation’s governors at the White House to discuss conserving America’s natural resources. The meeting was attended by the president, vice president, cabinet members, Supreme Court justices and 39 governors. Following this inaugural meeting, governors decided to form a bipartisan association through which they could come together to discuss mutual concerns and act collectively.

As part of the centennial celebration, NGA partnered with the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and the University of Pennsylvania Press to publish two books: “A Legacy of Leadership: Governors and American History” and “A Legacy of Innovation: Governors and Public Policy.” These books – authored by journalists, academics and historians – highlight gubernatorial achievements and specific public policy initiatives through the decades.

In addition, Governor Pawlenty released four publications to help ensure the work of the Securing a Clean Energy Future Initiative continues.

The first, “Opportunities for States in Clean Energy Research, Development & Demonstration,” outlines state roles in this area and is intended to guide states in the crucial decisions they must make about clean energy in the years ahead.

The second, “A Governor’s Guide to Clean Power Generation and Energy Efficiency ,” offers guidance for states to engage in enhanced electricity planning efforts and policies that can drive greater investment in and adoption of efficiency and cleaner power sources.

A third, “Clean and Secure State Energy Actions — 2008,” catalogs what all 55 states and territories are doing to advance a cleaner, more secure energy future, highlighting existing policy models other states can replicate.

Finally, a new Issue Brief, “Greening State Government: �Lead by Example’ Initiatives,” examines current efforts across a range of state government operations to increase energy efficiency and support the use of clean and renewable energy.

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