State Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) this week joined 128 state legislators from 36 states at the 2017 National Issues Forum organized by the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. The event offered opportunities for attendees to collaborate on policy solutions to combat climate change, remove toxins from drinking water and consumer products, and conserve water, public lands, and endangered species.

“I am very proud to be part of a nationwide coalition advocating for modern day solutions to modern day problems,” Galonski said.  “I believe we have an opportunity in Ohio to be at the forefront of the growth and economic opportunity that rethinking environmental challenges can bring. From good-paying advanced manufacturing jobs to research and development jobs, commonsense energy and environmental policies can catapult us as a leader in an emerging sector of our rapidly changing global economy.”

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. He highlighted the fact that states had already been passing legislation that proves it is possible to simultaneously protect the environment and support economic growth, and noted that such efforts are now more important than ever.

Schwarzenegger underscored the need for bipartisanship cooperation and state and local action on climate and the environment. “I don’t see the environment as a political issue. There is no Republican air or Democratic air, we all breathe the same air. There is no Republican water or Democratic water, we all drink the same water, so let’s work together on this,” he said. “States, provinces, cities, and neighborhoods have tremendous power, and we should wield that power… This is why it’s so important that we fill the vacuum - where the federal government has fallen short, we are going to step in and we are going to do the work.”

The National Caucus of Environmental Legislators is a nationwide network of more than 1,100 state legislators from both parties and all 50 states. The organization serves as a resource on environmental issues by empowering state legislators committed to environmental issues and connecting them across state and party lines.

“Despite our differences, everyone had the common thread of wanting to help constituents and seeing which policies were and were not effective.  It is this kind of communication that allows for meaningful, long term change,” Galonski stated.

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