Wasden plans energy conference

Energy experts to meet state attorneys general

Betsy Z. Russell
June 29, 2007

Boise – From global warming to alternative energy sources to increasing gas prices, states are facing serious energy issues, and state attorneys general need to be prepared, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says.

Newly elected as president of the National Association of Attorneys General, Wasden has selected energy as the initiative he’ll focus on during his one-year term. He’ll organize a two-day conference next spring for all state attorneys general, inviting experts from government, private industry and the scientific community to discuss energy issues and their implications, legal and otherwise.

“This is an issue that’s really ripe for discussion and will impact hugely what’s going to occur in our future,” Wasden said in an interview. “What we need to do as attorneys general is get on the same page, we need to understand what the facts are in order for us to properly advise our clients who are going to have to solve those policy questions.”

The Idaho Legislature this year adopted its first energy policy in 25 years, but critics complained that it lacked teeth and didn’t fully commit the state to shifting to renewable energy sources.

Wasden said state attorneys general don’t make policy – but they provide the legal background and consultation to those who do. “It’s not in any way believing that attorneys general can be the sole solution to the country’s and the state’s energy needs – that isn’t the role we play. But as an adviser to those people who will make those policy choices, we need to be informed to help them make their choice,” he said.

Wasden, a Republican, is a second-term Idaho attorney general who worked as a top deputy in the office for years before he was elected to the post. He succeeds Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker as president of the national association.

Baker focused on public-private partnerships as his initiative during his presidency. Past association presidents have targeted public corruption, pharmaceutical industry pricing and practices, and end-of-life issues.

“There’s been quite a variety of projects,” Wasden said.

He noted that Idaho has been seeing proposals for increased nuclear energy production, wind farms, biodiesel production and more. “This project is more than just global warming,” he said. Asked his personal view on global warming, Wasden said, “I can’t say that I am a particular expert on this.” He said he and other attorneys general need “a full grasp of what it means, and what its implications are.”