Created by and for state legislators, the Caucus serves as a resource on environmental issues through legislative research, organized events, and by facilitating collaboration between lawmakers working on similar issues.
The mission of NCEL 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. NCEL does not lobby for the enactment or defeat of any state or federal legislation.
We believe that the key to advancing sound policy in the states is well-informed legislatures with strong champions who can advocate on behalf of the environment, develop shared strategies, and educate their colleagues about coalition building and opposition tactics.
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 founded in 1996 by then-Maryland Delegate Leon Billings, who had previously been the chief U.S. Senate staffer responsible for writing the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. The Caucus began as a bipartisan informal network of environmentally focused state legislators, was formalized in September 1999 as a project of the Edmund S. Muskie Foundation, and became an independent 501(c)(3) organization in 2007. NCEL has been instrumental in enacting the Great Lakes Compact, over 30 states adopting California’s Clean Car standard, pushing for state and federal toxics regulation reform, and a wave of state bills banning microbeads that pushed Congress to act on the issue in late 2015.
Today, NCEL coordinates regional and issue-specific projects, is governed by a board of sitting legislators, and employs three employees and four part-time coordinators.
A Trusted Resource
Unlike other organizations that advocate to lawmakers on the issues, NCEL does not lobby. Its members are legislators who are able to coach each other on pressing environmental concerns.
Members trust NCEL staff and their colleagues to provide them with unbiased, accurate information.
NCEL members often go on to become members of Congress, mayors, and statewide officeholders, or otherwise continue to work on environmental and conservation issues in other venues.
The Caucus is one of the few organizations that continues to offer forums for Republicans and Democrats to convene and collaborate together. NCEL holds this nonpartisan cooperation as a core value.
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, of which a majority will always consist of sitting state legislators.