Solving  Environmental Problems Through  Collaboration
                                                                                         A Case  Study
                              For EPA personnel and partners who wish to implement collaborative problem solving projects effectively.
Western  Regional

Partnership of Governors, Tribes, and Federal Agencies
form "WRAP" to develop innovative measures to improve air
quality in the West
Haze, often generated from hundreds of
miles away, regularly invades western
parks and wilderness areas, obstructing
the spectacular vistas visitors come to
enjoy. Recognizing both the aesthetic
and economic value of unimpaired
views, western governors embarked on
an ambitious program to address the
problem in 1997.
The governors first took up the issue of
regional haze through their participation
in the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport
Commission. The Commission
developed a comprehensive set of
recommendations for addressing
regional haze in parks and wilderness
areas on the Colorado Plateau.  To
advance the implementation of these
recommendations, the governors joined
with tribes and federal agencies to form
the Western Regional Air Partnership

The WRAP,  like its Commission
predecessor, is committed to building
political consensus for its actions.  To
this end, the partnership has estab-
lished a series of committees and
forums  with  stakeholder membership to
address technical  issues and develop
approaches  for improving air quality in
the West.

One of the most important tasks of the
WRAP is to provide a framework for
addressing regional  haze throughout
the West. In April 1999, EPA promul-
gated a national rule for addressing
visibility in parks and wilderness areas,
on which the Western Governors'
Association  submitted extensive
comments.  WGA's comments were
instrumental in developing rule provi-
sions both to implement the recommen-
dations of the Commission and to
protect and  enhance visibility in more
than 100 national  parks and wilderness
areas in the  West.

Why the WRAP Worked

The WRAP  is largely a coordinating
organization, carrying no legal authority
unless the states or EPA adopts its
recommendations. Nonetheless, given
the consensus nature of its recommen-
dations, its decisions are usually
adopted by the states without the need
for intervention by the federal govern-

The WRAP'S committees and forums
seek consensus among the govern-
mental partners and stakeholders,
including large and small businesses,
academia, environmental groups and
other public  interest representatives.
Scientific findings and policy options
are presented to policy makers and the
public for appropriate discussion and
response. Typically, the findings and
options go before  the WRAP Board,
which consists of  state, tribal and
federal representatives.  As a coordinat-
ing organization, the WRAP is commit-
ted to bringing together all those who
may contribute to or be affected by poor
air quality.

The Western Governors Association in
Denver and the National Tribal Environ-
mental Council  in  Albuquerque receive
funding from the U.S. EPA to administer
and support the WRAP.  The majority of
the work is done by individuals serving
on the WRAP committees and forums,
with assistance from WGA and NTEC
staff as well as outside contractors. The
WRAP policy and  technical forums
prepare annual work plans under the
direction of a planning committee,
focusing on the work products to meet
the strategic goals of the regional haze
program.  The  WRAP depends on the
great contribution  from organizations
and individuals who give their often non-
reimbursable time and effort to commit-
tee and forum work.
  The WRAP has demonstrated there is
  tremendous value in states and tribes
  working together as environmental
  stewards.  We have a better grasp of the
  problem, and we've reached consensus
  on innovative regional strategies to
  improve air quality.

         - Patrick Cummins, Co-Director
                       of the WRAP

 What  Made the WRAP

 The WRAP is a collaborative effort of 13
 tribal governments, 13 state govern-
 ments and several federal agencies.
 The WRAP represents an unprec-
 edented,  consensus-based approach to
 regional air quality planning, with the
 goal of protecting visibility in some of
 our most cherished national  parks in the
 western U.S.  This investment in
 regional planning  has resulted in
 improved scientific understanding,
 regional emissions inventories,  regional
 modeling, regional policy development,
 regional technical  tools, and  invaluable
 experience in inter-state communica-
 tion and coordination. The WRAP has
 an exemplary record of state  and tribal
 coordination, which has resulted in the
 first-ever  emission inventories for 30
 tribes.  Due to the  WRAP'S success as
 an organization, EPA established four
 other Regional Planning Organizations
 in other parts of the country.

 Lessons  Learned

 The efforts and products from the
 WRAP have shown that there is an
 innovative, alternative way of doing the
 important business of environmental
 protection.  Rather than following the
 old paradigm of prescriptive federal
 laws and regulations, which,  tradition-
 ally, are followed by state action, often
 contentious federal review, and  all too
 often by third party litigation,  the partici-
 pants in the Commission's process
 focused jointly on  innovative ap-
 proaches to  problems and solutions.
 Regional  planning is critical  to  making
 progress  on air quality issues that will
 only get more complicated, and are
 typically less suited to traditional
 regulatory approaches and controls.


 Visibility in the West has improved
because of the pioneering work of the
Grand Canyon Visibility Transport
Commission, and Western Regional Air
Partnership. These collaborations have
changed the way the West solves its
environmental problems, providing  a
model for environmental progress that
federal regulators have adopted.

In 1999, the first major issue before the
WRAP was developing a regional sulfur
dioxide trading market for stationary
sources in lieu of Best Available Retrofit
Technology (BART). On Sept. 25,
2000, the WRAP approved a set of
recommendations  for reducing sulfur
dioxide emissions  from  large industrial
sources, including a backstop "cap-
and-trade" program. Under this
program,  a stationary source of emis-
sions receives a certain number of
"allowances,"  and a source that
exceeds its allowances can purchase
allowances from another source that is
under its limit. A diverse group of
stakeholders,  including representatives
from government, industry, environmen-
tal and nonprofit organizations and
academia, developed the  adopted
recommendations  that were developed
over three years. EPA approved the
WRAPs recommendations on sulfur
dioxide emissions in April 2002 as an
annex to the 1996  report of the Grand
Canyon Visibility Transport Commis-

Mike Leavitt, former Governor of Utah
and co-chair of the  WRAP, expressed
that  "reaching a consensus on this
difficult issue took an extraordinary
amount of commitment and hard work by
stakeholders and governmental
representatives. This type of collabora-
tive process focuses on voluntary,
market-based and results-oriented
approaches to environmental and
natural resource management using
what we call the Enlibra principles.  This
successful agreement will serve as an
example for future efforts within the
WRAP and for other environmental and
natural resource problem-solving,"

Keys to Collaboration

The Western Regional Air Partnership
demonstrates six keys for collaborative
problem solving.

The haze that regularly invades western
parks and wilderness areas was a
shared problem for western governors.
Many were concerned that obstructing
the spectacular vistas enjoyed by visitors
would lead to shortfalls in tourism

The Grand  Canyon Visibility Transport
Commission was the convener of
stature, and it provided western
governors with a means to initially
address the issue of regional haze. The
governors in western states were the
committed leaders, for  an  ambitious
program,  that set out to implement the
Commission's recommendations.

The representatives of  substance  for
the WRAP included western governors,
tribes, as well as federal  agencies, and
providing a framework for addressing
regional haze throughout  the West was
the clearly-defined purpose.

The formal charter for the WRAP
establishes a  commitment to the  use  of
stakeholder processes to build political
consensus for its actions. The charter
also sets up a series of committees and
forums with stakeholder  membership.

For more information

Region 9 Air Program
United States
Environmental Protection
      Office of Policy,
      Economics and Innovation
                          June 2006