Press Release

NCEL Recognizes Nine State Legislators for their Dedication to Environmental Issues

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Taylor Anderson
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NCEL Presents the 2021 Rising Environmental Leader, Environmental Achievement, and Environmental Activism Awards

This week, the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) recognized nine state lawmakers for their outstanding work to advance environmental legislation and programs. Each awardee was selected by the NCEL Board of Directors, most of whom are state legislators. 

NCEL presented Nevada State Assemblymember Howard Watts, Minnesota State Representative Kaohly Her, Georgia State Senator Sheikh Rahman, and Maryland State Delegate Sara Love with the Rising Environmental Leader award. This award is presented to state legislators who demonstrate strong leadership on environmental issues early in their legislative careers.

NCEL also awarded the Leon G. Billings Environmental Achievement Award to Colorado State Representative Dominique Jackson, Washington State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, Washington Senator Reuven Carlyle, and Minnesota Senator David Senjem. The Environmental Achievement Award is presented to state legislators in recognition of  their outstanding accomplishments on environmental issues. The NCEL Board of Directors named the Environmental Achievement Award as a memorial to the organization’s founder, former Maryland Delegate Leon G. Billings, who first organized NCEL in 1996. Billings is also widely known as the U.S. Senate staffer responsible for writing the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act in the 1970s.

Additionally, the first-ever Renny Cushing Environmental Activism Award was awarded to New Hampshire State Representative Renny Cushing for his lifetime of environmental advocacy. The new award recognizes a leader who perseveres against the odds in the fight for the environment, equity, and justice.

The awards were presented at NCEL’s eighth annual National Forum, which took place online July 29-30. The forum had more than 190 attendees from 39 states.

Rising Environmental Leaders

Throughout his first two terms in the Nevada State Assembly, where he serves as Chair of the Natural Resource Committee, and his current role with NCEL as Nevada State Lead, Assemblymember Howard Watts has established himself as a leader in progressing legislative solutions to our largest environmental challenges. He is recognized for his leadership in advancing clean energy legislation, land and water conservation, and his continued work to ensure a just energy transition. 

Elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2019, Representative Kaohly Her has been a leader on bold and equitable environmental legislation in her state. In addition to leading NCEL meetings regarding her groundbreaking work on cumulative impacts and other environmental justice priorities, Representative Her is recognized for her leadership on cumulative impacts policy, her continued work to improve the health of the Mississippi River, and her focus on environmental justice and racial equity in the bills she champions. 

As an active member and leader of NCEL’s Outdoor Working Group, Senator Rahman continues to inspire his colleagues from other states with his passion to make Georgia’s outdoor spaces more accessible and equitable. He is recognized for his leadership in working to increase outdoor recreation opportunities for Georgia’s youth and his successful passage of an Outdoor Learning Committee resolution this year that creates an interim committee to issue recommendations related to outdoor learning.

While embracing a leadership role within the NCEL network, Delegate Sara Love has proved to be a vital voice for the health of Maryland’s environment and the public in the state House of Delegates, where she serves on the Environment and Transportation Committee. She is recognized for her leadership in advancing zero-waste solutions, increasing outdoor access and clean water for Maryland’s public, and her active participation in multiple NCEL programs.

Environmental Achievement Awards

Throughout her time with NCEL and in the Colorado legislature, Representative Dominique Jackson has led with a passion for progressing bills that work to undo the systemic and environmental injustices present in her state’s communities. She is recognized for ensuring environmental justice considerations and communities disproportionately impacted by pollution are centered in various pieces of Colorado climate legislation. 

As Chair of Washington’s House Environment and Energy Committee, Representative Joe Fitzgibbon never shies away from pursuing the bold legislative solutions to the environmental issues facing current and future generations. He is recognized for his emissions reduction work including his primary sponsorship of enacted bills to limit the use of hydrofluorocarbons and create a low carbon fuel standard, alongside his work championing Washington’s nation-leading climate bill.

Working on a range of environmental and energy-related issues each session, Senator Reuven Carlyle continues to prove himself to be an environmental champion who provides lessons learned to his colleagues across the country. He is recognized for helping to make major strides in emission reductions this year including his primary sponsorship of Washington’s groundbreaking climate bill, which made it the second state to enact comprehensive carbon pricing legislation

Senator David Senjem has time and again shown his collaborative spirit in his work to find creative solutions to ensure a transition to clean, reliable energy that will benefit a diverse range of stakeholders. His ability to take lessons learned from other states and work with like-minded environmental legislators, regardless of political affiliation, is a true embodiment of NCEL’s mission. He is recognized for his consensus-building efforts to advance a clean energy transition and incorporate lessons learned from other states and countries. 

Environmental Activism Award

Throughout his career and life, Representative Renny Cushing has dedicated himself to environmental sustainability and to ensuring a safer and healthier New Hampshire. While he has worked on a wide array of environmental issues throughout his career, he recently sponsored a successful bill to stop the release of toxic chemicals from landfills into New Hampshire’s waterways – setting an example of what it looks like to hold polluters accountable for deteriorating the health of local communities. Representative Cushing is recognized for his lifetime of advocacy for environmental values, and his many invaluable legislative contributions to the field of environmentalism. 

Created by and for state legislators, the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that organizes over 1,000 environmentally committed state legislators from all 50 states and both parties. NCEL provides venues and opportunities for lawmakers to share ideas and collaborate on environmental issues.