State Reps. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) and Kent Smith (D-Euclid) joined more than 100 state legislators from 36 states and both major political parties to build consensus on leading environmental issues at the 2017 National Issues Forum in Boston this week organized by the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL). The event offered opportunities for lawmakers and sustainability advocates to collaborate on policy solutions to remove toxins from consumer products, and to conserve water, public lands and endangered species.

“The dangers of ignoring environmental issues and the benefits of using clean energy are crystal clear,” said Howse. “By laying a foundation for environmental sustainability, we can help grow our economy, attract clean energy businesses and bring better jobs to our state.”

The forum agenda featured a keynote address from former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who spoke about the ability of states to innovate and create environmental models for the federal government to adopt. Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger also keynoted the event, and underscored the need for bipartisanship cooperation and state and local action on climate and the environment.

“I was proud to join several other Ohio House Democratic Members at this year's National Caucus of Environmental Legislators National Issues Forum,” said Smith. “It was again demonstrated to us that other states, with much less manufacturing capabilities, are outpacing Ohio in the development of a clean energy economy. Because of government roadblocks, put in place by members of the Ohio GOP, good jobs are not being created here in Ohio. Their insistence on holding back progress is keeping Ohioans from not just breathing clean air, but also from having more money in their pocketbooks. Hard-working Ohioans need a government that is looking out for their best interests, and Statehouse Republicans continue be obstacles to the emerging clean energy economic sector.”

Resources such as Digital Environmental Legislative Handbook, a search database of impactful environmental legislation developed by the NCEL and the Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy at the University of Southern California, were introduced to educate legislators on issues including climate change, air quality, human health, energy efficiency and renewable energy. The NCEL stated that many legislations not only protect the environment, but also support economic growth, and that such efforts are now more important than ever.

“There is no Republican air or Democratic air, we all breathe the same air,” said Schwarzenegger. “There is no Republican water or Democratic water, we all drink the same water, so let’s work together on this. States, provinces, cities, and neighborhoods have tremendous power, and we should wield that power.”

The National Caucus of Environmental Legislators is a nationwide network of more than 1,100 state legislators from both parties and all 50 states. Created by and for state legislators in 1996, the organization serves as a resource on environmental issues through legislative research, organized events, and by facilitating collaboration between lawmakers working on similar issues. 

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