2021 State Legislator Policy Strategy Sessions in Washington D.C.
December 9-10, 2021
NCEL Convenes State Legislators in Washington DC for Policy Strategy Sessions
On December 9 and 10, NCEL convened state legislators in Washington D.C. for our first-ever Policy Strategy Sessions. The sessions consisted of three exclusive workshop meetings for state legislators to take a deep dive into specific policy issues. Legislators were able to hear from experts and one another on policy options, lessons learned, and successes related to a specific policy area. The three half-day workshops focused on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for plastic packaging, offshore wind energy, and constitutional Green Amendments.
NCEL was also joined by White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and New Mexico U.S. Representative Melanie Stansbury to learn more about how states and the federal government can work together more closely on environmental issues.
Day 1: EPR Strategy Session
On the first day, legislators from ten states gathered to learn about Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for plastic packaging policy.
Discussion among legislators was lively and enthusiastic, as they conversed about the common issues each of their states face in addressing plastic pollution, low recycling rates, and the associated health costs. Legislators who attended all voiced a common sentiment: we know that we cannot just recycle and compost our way to a sustainable future. The panel of NCEL staff and EPR experts provided policy options, in-depth analysis, and various presentations to help show legislators how EPR is a comprehensive policy approach states can take to address the growing plastic pollution crisis.
Day 1: State Legislators Hear the Federal Perspective
Following the EPR session, we were joined by White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy who spoke about how states and the federal government can work together on climate policy and projects. With federal funds from the infrastructure package heading to states, Advisor McCarthy reiterated that maintaining a strong state-federal partnership makes climate action stronger.
In the evening, we were joined by NCEL Member U.S. Representative Melanie Stansbury. Rep. Stansbury, who recently served as a state legislator in New Mexico, shared how environmental action, such as addressing climate change and drought in the West, continues to be a guiding force for her legislative work on the national level.
Day 2: Offshore Wind Strategy Session
The second day brought together legislators from seven coastal states convening to learn more about offshore wind policy.
Throughout the session, the panel of NCEL staff and offshore wind experts highlighted how we’re at an inflection point for offshore wind and that by promoting cross-state collaboration, states can ensure that we develop offshore wind in a safe and responsible manner while promoting the transition to renewable energy. Specifically, the panelists provided strategies and policy options for developing offshore wind in ways that benefit local marine life, local fishing operations, and coastal economies.
Day 2: Green Amendment Strategy Session
The Policy Strategy Session concluded with a session on Green Amendments attended by legislators from nine states interested in establishing constitutional amendments to enshrine the right to a clean and healthy environment.
We heard from Maya van Rossum, the founder of the Green Amendment movement and also learned firsthand from Assemblymember Steve Englebright who sponsored New York’s successful Green Amendment (enacted in 2021). The legislator attendees were vocal about the ways a Green Amendment could increase environmental accountability and protect their constituents against environmental health hazards. Of the nine states present, at least five are now pursuing Green Amendment legislation in the 2022 session.