A major success of collaborative government and working with stakeholders was the Western Regional Air Partnership (WRAP). This initiative involved reducing regional haze in the West by reducing emissions of sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and fine particle pollution, all air pollutants that diminish visibility. Since regional haze is, by its very nature, a regional problem, the solution depends on a regional state and tribal collaborative effort. Ursula Kramer recounted, “The WRAP spent significant amounts of time developing the regional collaboration approach. Developing a mission statement, bylaws and organizational structure that were acceptable to the many stakeholders was challenging, but the finished product showed the time and effort was well spent. The organization is so effective that WRAP has expanded and is still working today.”
The WRAP partnership board included the governors of states and the governors of tribes. Governor Leavitt was adamant that tribes should have a place at the table. Ursula Kramer explained the situation: “Reduced visibility and regional haze problems were directly impacting the tribal lands, so it was appropriate to involve them.” The tribes did not have air quality data, but the National Park Service had a lot of data for tribal land. In addition to recognizing the importance of the state-tribal partnership, WRAP established technical and policy committees with a designated balance of tribal, state, industry, environmental and other stakeholders. All of the decisions were based on consensus. At first, it was a challenge, but in the end, partners worked hard to accomplish meaningful, workable consensus decisions.
WRAP left a legacy. It became the West’s model for collaboration. Brad Barber developed an Enlibra tool kit that was distributed by the Oquirrh Institute. The kit had extensive information about estimating environmental impacts by running different scenarios and models before implementation. The kit provided a way for local governments, which do not have vast resources, to better consider environmental impacts of decisions and identify the most effective and cost efficient solutions. The process gave them an opportunity to identify where the problem areas were and build agreement on the solutions for air quality and other environmental considerations.
Ursula Kramer spoke further about the importance of trust and collaborations, “I think to this day a lot of agencies still struggle with collaborative approaches. I am still often amazed when an agency is doing a rulemaking or permit that, in my judgment, ought to go out for public review or community discussions. Lots of areas around the country are still pushing those out without any stakeholder involvement. I think it is hurting the whole process. It goes back to the trust issue. When you don’t work together, the community won’t have a sense of comfort with what you are doing. Especially when you do something that is really controversial.”
Utah Department of Environmental Quality: