NCEL’s Year In Review – 2020

December 17, 2020



NCEL Point of Contact

Taylor Anderson
Communications Director


During a year like none other, filled with many challenges and adjustments, states still passed groundbreaking legislation to protect our environment and local communities for years to come. Below is a recap that showcases some of the important environmental victories accomplished by state legislators throughout the country this year.

2020 At A Glance:

Prior to the rapid spread of Covid-19 cases, NCEL staff traveled to eight states to meet with state legislators and host in-state briefings.

Adapting to the challenging circumstances, NCEL restructured our work to continue providing legislators with information on environmental issues by holding 27 virtual events. These events covered topics such as pollinators, wildlife disease, outdoor recreation, clean energy, coastal protection, plastic pollution, and green amendments.

To continue bringing legislators together, NCEL created nine working groups centered around specific environmental issues where members convene, discuss, and provide updates on policy ideas and bills. These working groups brought legislators together around topics including plastic pollution, outdoor recreation, bold decarbonization, environmental justice, and 30×30 land and water conservation.

The work of the NCEL network received 50 media hits including from national outlets such as The Washington PostThe HillE&E News, and Vox.

Legislative Successes:

Amid the pandemic, states throughout the country still managed to pass robust environmental legislation, with major success for bills focused on addressing single-use plastic pollution, heightened regulation of toxic “forever chemicals”, and the implementation of wildlife corridors along major roadways, to name a few. 

NCEL National Forum – Ensuring a Healthy and Equitable Environment for All:

In light of the pandemic, NCEL held our first-ever virtual National Forum which brought together 147 legislators from 36 different states. This year’s forum featured topics on environmental justice and equitable environmental policy solutions, with a special keynote address from former Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

During the event, NCEL presented the annual Rising Environmental Leader and Environmental Achievement Awards to five state legislators.

This year’s Rising Environmental Leaders are Georgia State Representative Park Cannon and New Mexico State Representative Angelica Rubio. The award recognizes exceptional environmental leadership in first- and second-term legislators. 

The recipients of the Leon G. Billings Environmental Achievement Award were Minnesota State Representative Rick Hansen, North Carolina State Representative Chuck McGrady, and Washington State Senator Christine Rolfes. Named after NCEL’s founder, the award celebrates legislators that have shown a continued commitment to environmental success and impact throughout their careers.

Continuing the Momentum in 2021!

With all of the challenges presented to states and legislators this year, there was remarkable progress made for environmental protection. Thank you for all your hard work and support this year! 

We are excited to see what environmental victories state legislators can accomplish in 2021! And as always, please do not hesitate to contact us if we can assist with your legislative efforts.

Stay tuned in early 2021 for a preview of what we see as the trending policies for the new year.

Please consider becoming one of our Sustaining Members with a monthly contribution of $15. You can also make a one-time donation. Your tax-deductible donations help provide crucial support to legislators across the country working to pass strong environmental policies.