THE NATIONAL CAUCUS OF ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATORS (NCEL) was organized in 1996 for the purpose of providing environmentally progressive legislators with an opportunity to coordinate their activities with respect to national legislative organizations, and to share ideas both on affirmative and negative environmental issues.
The mission of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators is to empower environmentally progressive state lawmakers by
- Sharing ideas and information on environmental issues, legislative initiatives, and regulatory actions
- Assisting each other on proactive initiatives
- Sharing information on efforts to weaken existing laws or enact anti-environment proposals and
- Providing information on Federal actions which might affect state environmental programs or initiatives or otherwise affect environmental protection.
The goal of the NCEL is to organize pro-environment state legislators nationwide, and to educate and inform these leaders on state and federal environmental issues and policies, the result of which will be enactment of sound environmental policy at the state level. The NCEL does not lobby for the enactment or defeat of any state or federal legislation.
Who Belongs to NCEL?
Participation in the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators is by invitation to elected Members of state legislatures, regardless of political affiliation, who have demonstrated an interest in and commitment to environmentally progressive legislation. To find out more about joining the Caucus, please read our registration requirements.
NCEL was conceived by state legislators for state legislators in 1996 as an informal, non-partisan response to a well-funded and highly organized effort of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is an organization of conservative state legislators and corporate lobbyists who, together, craft legislation that in many instances seeks to weaken existing environmental regulations or enact polices that benefit polluting companies at the expense of the environment and public health.
From the beginning, participation in the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators has been open to elected members of state legislatures, regardless of political affiliation, who have demonstrated an interest in and commitment to environmentally progressive legislation. The initial coordinated effort by the NCEL participants improved the ability of the legislators to communicate regularly on how to deal with both pro- and anti-environmental policies. However, it became clear that a more formal organization was needed to replace the ad hoc communication and information relationship that existed among state legislators who were committed to environmental protection.
NCEL was formalized in September 1999 as a project of the Edmund S. Muskie Foundation. The support of the Muskie Foundation allowed NCEL to hire its first full-time staff member and begin formalizing regional programs to facilitate communication between state legislators.
Today, NCEL is its own 501c3 organization and has a variety of regional projects assisting legislators in the Great Lakes, Mississippi River, Pacific Northwest and California regions advance their environmental priorities. In addition to the regional forums held for each of these projects, NCEL meets at least once annually coincident with the national and Washington, DC meetings of the National Conference of State Legislatures. NCEL is not affiliated with NCSL. Since 1996, NCEL has grown to more than 1,000 state legislators representing all 50 states, nearly 15% of all state legislators.
The National Caucus of Environmental Legislators has a variety of regional, issue-based and national meetings to assist legislators across the country. NCEL meets at least once annually coincident with the national and Washington, DC meetings of the National Conference of State Legislatures. NCEL is not affiliated with NCSL.
The National Caucus of Environmental Legislators is governed by a Board of Directors and the participants in the Caucus who attend NCSL events coincident with NCEL meetings. Each has an equal say in any matters pending before the Caucus.
Staff & Coordinators
Board of Directors
The Honorable Pricey Harrison
State Representative, North Carolina
The Honorable Kevin Ranker
State Senator, Washington
The Honorable Brenda Gilmore
State Representative, Tennessee
The Honorable Rob Cowles
State Senator, Wisconsin
The Honorable Melissa Hortman
State Representative, Minnesota
The Honorable Chris Lee
State Representative, Hawaii
The Honorable Leon Billings
Former Delegate, Maryland
The Honorable Diana Urban
State Representative, Connecticut
The Honorable Chuck McGrady
State Representative, North Carolina
The Honorable Nan Orrock
State Senator, Georgia
The Honorable Brian Kavanagh
Assemblyman, New York
Executive Director, COMPASS