NCEL Member Spotlight: Ann Williams
Environmental policies often go hand-in-hand with consumer savings, health benefits, and job creation.
Name: Ann M. Williams
Title: State Representative
Year first elected to the legislature: 2011
Hometown/district location: Chicago
Legislative Leadership Position/Committee Chair/Lead: Chair of the Green Caucus; Chair of the Renewable Energy and Sustainability Committee
1. Why are environmental issues important to you?
I have been an advocate for environmental issues because I believe we can no longer ignore these problems with the stakes so high, and the solutions more achievable than ever. Communities are beginning to understand how environmental issues impact everyday life for consumers and businesses, and tackling these problems can not only create jobs, but can save lives.
2. What would you consider to be one of your most significant environmental or energy-related achievements in the state legislature to date? What does it do? (Please list the bill number, title, and year passed.)
In 2013 I was the primary sponsor of HB 2902, to create the “Electric Car Advisory Council”
3. Why is this achievement important for your constituents and state?
This legislation creates a private and public sector collaboration to ensure that Illinois has the policies and infrastructure in place to help this rapidly growing industry flourish in Illinois, bringing us numerous environmental and economic benefits.
4. How do you enlist unlikely allies and build broad coalitions for your priorities?
In building coalitions, it is important to acknowledge the benefits of environmental initiatives beyond just the ecological impacts. In Illinois, we have successfully garnered support from a variety of labor organization in regards to energy efficiency improvements. We have also demonstrated to tourism industries how clean water is in their interest, and demonstrated to farmers how sustainable practices can improve soil and cut costs.
5. What advice do you have for your peers also working on environmental issues?
When working to advance green policies, it is important to build coalitions, and to collaborate in bi-partisan fashion. Environmental initiatives are sometimes labeled as progressive or anti-business, and thus bipartisan support is not always easy. However, the reality is that environmental policies often go hand-in-hand with consumer savings, health benefits, and job creation. To be effective, the narrative must be appropriate for the audience.