The USC Schwarzenegger Institute in partnership with the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) launched the Digital Environmental Legislative Handbook, a first of its kind environmental policy resource, for state legislative leaders. Governor Schwarzenegger and the Schwarzenegger Institute, recognizing the power of environmental laws passed at the state, city and local levels, spent over a year developing this project which will help legislators from across America share best practices and legislation with proven track records of success. The Institute hopes that the Digital Environmental Legislative Handbook will empower state legislators and their staff in passing environmental laws in their state that both protect the environment and support jobs and economic growth.
This digital resource was launched last week in Boston at the Annual Meeting of the NCEL with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger speaking to an audience of over 250 people that included over 125 state legislators all committed to protecting the environment. The NCEL is a bipartisan organization pulling together state legislators from all 50 states and the perfect partner for this new, first of its kind, digital resource.
Meeting speakers included former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, former California State Senator Fran Pavley and Washington State Senator Kevin Ranker. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger provided the closing keynote address and both thanked the leaders present and pumped them up to do even more to make up for recent reverses under the Trump administration.
“America did not drop out of the Paris Agreement,” said Schwarzenegger. “One man dropped out of the Paris Agreement. We all stayed in the Paris Agreement. The private sector stayed in the Paris Agreement. The public sector stayed in the Paris Agreement. Our engineers, our scientists, our academics, everyone stayed in the Paris Agreement. States, providences, cities and neighborhoods have tremendous power, and we should use that power. That is why it is so import that we fill the vacuum where the Federal Government has fallen short. We are now going to step in and do the work.”
The USC Schwarzenegger Institute and the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators specifically created the Digital Environmental Legislative Handbook to help with those efforts. The online resource is a searchable database of impactful environmental legislation related to air quality, energy efficiency and renewable energy, human health and climate change. The website was built specifically for legislators and their staff and anyone familiar with the legislative process should find its contents familiar and easy to access to legislation that is working in one state and duplicable in another.
“We felt it should be easy for legislators to research and share the impactful environmental legislation that is already working in states and which shows that you can protect your environment while supporting jobs and economic growth,” said Bonnie Reiss, Global Director of the Schwarzenegger Institute. “That is why Arnold and his Institute teamed up with the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators to create this one-stop-shop for environmental legislation. I am confident that it will help state governments continue to lead the way in protecting our air, water and the health of our fellow citizens. We anticipate this resource growing in usefulness to state legislators as there is an interactive feature where they can “submit” legislation they see working in their states and believe is duplicable in other states. The Institute’s research staff will review all submissions and add the ones that are value added.”
The bills listed on the site range in scope from very ambitious legislation like Oregon’s Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan to bills with more limited reach like the California’s 2007 ban on Phtalates in children’s toys and baby bottles.
Fran Pavley, former California State Senator, and author of numerous bills included in the Handbook, helped Schwarzenegger unveil the website and encouraged her legislative colleagues from around the country to submit legislation for inclusion on the website. “Everyone realizes it’s really going to be up to the sub-nationals to do even more — cities, states and provinces working collaboratively together,’’ said Pavley in an interview with Politico. “The move to provide legislators with tools they need is a natural progression given that the federal government level is not moving forward and states need to share information.”
Jeff Mauk, Executive Director of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, echoed those sentiments. “Regardless of what is happening in Washington, America will continue its leadership on combatting climate change because of the great work of states and cities,” said Mauk. “State legislators from both parties know that reducing carbon pollution and eliminating toxins are good for the economy and for the health of their constituents. We are excited to partner with the Schwarzenegger Institute to provide more tools for state legislators working on environmental policies in their states.”
The Digital Environmental Legislative Handbook can be found at www.envirolaws.org or via the Schwarzenegger Institute website. Additional bills will be added to the site on a rolling basis and phase two of the project will involve adding additional categories of environmental protection like costal protection and habitat conservation. The Institute also appreciates the excellent work being done at the city level and by subnational governments outside the United States and hopes to add components to this resource, in time, that will be able to support that important work as well.
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