Legislative Session Recap

2022 Session Recap

June 29, 2022



NCEL Point of Contact

Taylor Anderson
Communications Director



States continue to show that they are leading the country on environmental policy. Throughout the 2022 session, states passed and enacted precedent-setting policies to fight climate change, ensure a just transition, protect land, water, and biodiversity, increase outdoor engagement, reduce plastic pollution, and restrict toxic chemicals.

This recap highlights some of the most noteworthy bills to pass during the year. Each section also contains a link to a list of all bills that were passed in states across the country. 

Topics included in this recap: Climate JusticeEmission ReductionsTransportationUtility/Grid ModernizationOceansWildlife ConservationOutdoor Engagement30×30 and BiodiversityPlastic PollutionToxic Chemicals (PFAS)Mississippi River

Not all states completed legislative sessions or enacted all legislation at the time of publishing (June 2022). You are encouraged to view the full bill lists at the bottom of each section for up-to-date bill counts.

Climate Justice and Just Transition

120 bills considered from 24 states; 72 were passed and enacted

Addressing climate change must be done equitably and with accessibility in mind. Climate justice prioritizes the communities that are being affected by climate change and recognizes that historically disenfranchised communities, such as low-income and BIPOC communities, disproportionately suffer the negative impact of climate change. A just transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy requires self-determination, support, and equitable policy design for those transitioning out of the fossil fuel industry.

Climate Justice Legislation

  • Maine L.D. 2018 (H.P. 1500) — Implements recommendations for the incorporation of equity considerations in regulatory decision making
  • Maryland H.B.0031/ S.B.0256 — Establishes the Resiliency Hub Grant Program in the Maryland Energy Administration to develop resiliency hubs — solar plus energy storage systems that provide no-cost backup power during grid outages — that serve low- and moderate-income households
  • Oregon H.B.4077 — Renames Environmental Justice Task Force as the Environmental Justice Council and directs certain agencies to develop environmental justice mapping tools which natural resource agencies will consider when developing administrative rules or agency policies or programs.
  • Vermont S.148 — Establishes an environmental justice policy for the State and requires state agencies to incorporate environmental justice into their work, rules, and procedures. Also establishes the Environmental Justice Advisory Council and the Interagency Environmental Justice Committee to advise the State on environmental justice issues.
  • Washington H.B. 1753 — Requires consultation with tribes regarding the use of some Climate Commitment Act funding

Just Transition Legislation

  • Colorado HB22-1193 — Appropriates funding for the just transition fund, which assists coal transition workers and their family/household members
  • Connecticut S.B.176 — Encourages solar energy for small businesses and low- to moderate-income communities
  • Illinois S.B.3866 — Sets guidelines for the Climate Works Hub, which provides training information related to opportunities and certifications relevant to clean energy jobs in the construction and building trades and provides pre-apprenticeship training to equity focused populations.
  • Maine L.D.1974 (S.P.706) — Establishes a Maine Climate Corps program
  • West Virginia H.B.4479 — Establishes the Coalfield Communities Grant Facilitation Commission, which provides support to small towns for grant writing and matching grant funds, particularly focusing on retraining coal miners

Emission Reductions

21 bills were considered from 15 states; 4 were passed and enacted

Reducing the output of greenhouse gas emissions remains the most critical strategy to mitigate climate change. States play an important role in reducing emissions and transitioning to 100% clean energy economies. In 2022, Connecticut, Maryland, and Maine enacted legislation to facilitate a bold pathway to clean energy in the next two decades.

Emissions Reductions Legislation

  • Connecticut S.B.10 — Commits the state to achieving 100% clean energy by 2040.
  • Maine L.D. 1429 — Establishes a mandate for the state to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.
  • Maryland S.B.0528 — Requires the state to set greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets and electric companies to increase their annual incremental gross energy savings. Develops energy efficiency and emissions reduction requirements for certain buildings to reduce emissions from large buildings by 20% by 2030 and achieve a net zero target by 2040. Establishes zero-emission vehicle requirements for the state fleet and creates an electric school bus pilot program.
  • Rhode Island S.B.2274  — Sets a path to source 100% of the state’s retail electricity sales from renewable sources by the end of 2033.


344 bills considered in 34 states; 61 passed, 42 of which were enacted

States play a critical role in decarbonizing transportation in the U.S. through policies to increase use of electric vehicles at a commercial scale and fund public transit options in cities and towns. This year, 34 states introduced legislation focusing on public transportation, electric vehicles, and charging infrastructure.

Transportation Legislation

  • Colorado SB22-193 — Creates the Clean Air Grant Program to reduce air pollution from industrial and manufacturing operations and appropriates funding for electric school buses and e-bikes.
  • Connecticut S.B.4 — Gives Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection the authority to move forward with medium- and heavy-duty vehicle regulations that would increase the number of zero-emission trucks. Also invests in and transitions the state fleet, transit buses, and school buses to electric, introduces consumer e-bike rebates, and expands access to electric vehicle charging.
  • Maine L.D. 1579 (S.P. 456) — Sets goals for all vehicles purchased and leased by the state and municipalities to be hybrid electric and zero-emission by 2035
  • New York S.7824 — Authorizes the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to improve bicycle and pedestrian access at its bridges and passenger station
  • Utah S.B.140 — Allows cities to create housing and transit reinvestment zones around light rail and bus rapid transit facilities that promote use of public transit
  • Virginia S.B. 575 — Requires many state agencies to buy or lease electric cars unless a lifetime cost calculator “clearly indicates” that the gas version is cheaper.
  • Washington S.B. 5974 and S.B. 5975 — Invests nearly $17 billion in transportation, including public transit, green transit grants, active transportation infrastructure, and addressing past harms in disinvested communities.

Utility and Grid Modernization

62 bills considered from 21 states; 45 passed, 43 of which were enacted

States are working to improve energy efficiency and transmission through modernized grid and utility systems, ensuring that energy grids are sustainable and resilient for the future. In 2022, 21 states introduced legislation on grid and utility modernization, including efforts to strengthen standards for utility companies and establish resiliency hubs for communities during grid outages.

Utility/Grid Modernization Legislation

  • Maryland H.B. 0031/Maryland S.B.0256 — Establishes the Resiliency Hub Grant Program in the Maryland Energy Administration to develop resiliency hubs — solar plus energy storage systems that provide no-cost backup power during grid outages — that serve low- and moderate-income households
  • Maine L.D. 1959 (S.P. 697) — Gives the Maine Public Utilities Commission the ability to set standards for utility companies and outlines penalties if the utilities fail to meet the standards.


Coastal states are experiencing some of the worst effects of climate change, from sea level rise to extreme weather events. Through NCEL’s Coastal Working Group, legislators work towards coastal protection and restoration. This year, states focused on promoting renewable offshore wind energy, restricting offshore drilling, conserving marine plant and animal species, and developing coastal resilience plans. 

Offshore Wind

28 bills considered from 10 states; 11 passed, 8 of which were enacted

Offshore Wind Legislation

  • Maryland S.B. 0526 — Altering the application of the offshore wind energy component of the renewable energy portfolio standard to apply only to distribution sales of electric companies; altering the manner in which an electric company may reflect and recover offshore wind renewable energy credit costs; altering certain compliance fees for shortfalls from the offshore wind energy component of the renewable energy portfolio standard
  • Louisiana H.R. 25 — Urges and requests the Louisiana Public Service Commission to investigate the benefits, feasibility, costs, and pathways to achieving a demonstrable offshore wind energy pilot project by 2026, with the goal of transitioning the state’s oil and gas industry to the offshore wind industry.

Offshore Drilling

8 bills considered from 5 states; 1 was passed and enacted

Offshore Drilling Legislation

  • Washington H.B. 1691 — Places financial responsibility of oil spills on oil companies’ on-shore facilities that service oil vessels

Coastal Resilience

32 bills considered from 9 states; 6 passed, 4 of which were enacted

Coastal Resilience Legislation

  • Hawaii H.B. 1653  — Establishes an administrative and criminal fine system for aquatic life taken, killed, or injured.  
  • Oregon H.B. 5202 — Appropriates funding for Oregon Ocean Science Fund, State Department of Fish and Wildlife, disaster recovery
  • Maine L.D. 1970 — Supports municipalities as they develop climate action plans and amends environmental regulations to account for the anticipated sea level rise over the next half century.
  • Washington S.B. 5619 — Conserves and restores kelp forests and eelgrass meadows


This session, states took steps to protect pollinator species that are declining, monitor zoonotic and wildlife diseases, increase restrictions on wildlife trafficking, improve wildlife connectivity with safe crossings and corridors, and protect carnivore species. Across 46 states and the District of Columbia, legislators considered 60 bills to protect pollinators, 15 bills to curb wildlife disease and trafficking, and 14 bills to promote wildlife connectivity and crossings.


60 bills considered from 22 states; 8 bills passed and were enacted

Pollinators Legislation

  • New Jersey S.1016 — Directs Department of Environmental Protection to classify neonicotinoid pesticides designed for outdoor use as restricted use pesticides
  • Colorado SB 22-199 — Calling for a study regarding the protection of native pollinating insects in the state.
  • Vermont H 626 — Prohibits the use of neonicotinoid pesticides until the adoption of new rules of use. Prohibition becomes permanent if new rules are not created by 7/1/2024

Wildlife Diseases

5 bills considered from 3 states; 1 passed and enacted

Wildlife Disease Legislation

  • Oregon H.B.4128 — Directs the Legislative Policy and Research Office to prepare a report concerning Oregon’s current framework for preventing, monitoring and responding to zoonotic disease; directs the State Fish and Wildlife Commission to review and update list of prohibited species that may not be imported, possessed, sold, purchased, exchanged or transported due to certain risks to public health; Prohibits person from selling, offering for sale or otherwise participating in sale or offer for sale of wildlife that is sold alive for purpose of human consumption.

Wildlife Trafficking

10 bills considered from 6 states and the District of Columbia; 3 passed and enacted

Wildlife Trafficking Legislation

  • Maryland H.B.0052 — Strengthens prohibition against purchasing, selling, offering for sale, or possessing with the intent to sell parts or products of certain animal species and requires that fines and restitution imposed under the bill be credited to the State Wildlife Management and Protection Fund to be used for preservation of threatened or endangered species.

Wildlife Crossings & Corridors

14 bills considered from 9 states and the District of Columbia; 3 passed and enacted

Wildlife Crossings & Corridors Legislation

  • Colorado SB22-151 — Creates the Colorado wildlife safe passages cash fund to provide funding for projects by the department of transportation that provide safe road crossings for connectivity of wildlife and that reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions
  • Colorado HB22-1072 — Expands the Habitat Partnership Program to assist the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Division with private land conservation and wildlife migration corridor efforts
  • Wyoming S.F.0048 — Funds projects to support wildlife crossings, the treatment of invasive grasses and encroaching conifers, and stream-channel retrofit and modification


13 bills considered from 10 states; 3 bills passed, 3 enacted

Carnivore Legislation

  • Colorado HB22-1177 –  Dedicates over $1,000,000 of funding from the General Fund for the mandated reintroduction of wolves to Colorado.
  • Vermont S 281 – Prohibits the pursuit of coyotes with the aid of dogs, either for the training of dogs or for the taking of coyotes.
  • Vermont S 201 – Prohibits the use of leghold traps to take or attempt to take wildlife.

Outdoor Engagement

77 bills considered from 28 states; 12 bills passed, 9 of which were enacted

Spending time outdoors has proven mental and physical health benefits, and states are recognizing this by promoting outdoor engagement and recreation for the public. While outdoor space may be available, not everyone has equal access to it due to a long history of environmental racism. Legislators are working to make places like parks more accessible to all groups. 

Outdoor Engagement Legislation

  • Colorado HB22-1090 — Under current law, a child is neglected or dependent if the child’s environment is injurious to the child’s health or welfare. The bill clarifies that a child is not neglected when allowed to participate in certain independent activities that a reasonable and prudent parent, guardian, or legal custodian would consider safe given the child’s maturity, condition, and abilities (including outdoor play)
  • Maryland S.B.0124 — Establishes the Grant Program to Reduce and Compost School Waste to award grants to county boards of education and public schools to develop and implement programs for reducing food waste and to establish composting of pre- and post-consumer waste
  • Washington H.B. 2078 — establish the Outdoor School for All Program to support the development of outdoor programs and provide opportunities for high school counselors and creates the Outdoor Learning Grant Program to allocate grants to school districts and outdoor school providers

30×30 and Biodiversity

20 bills considered from 12 states; 5 bills passed, 3 of which were enacted

To prevent future biodiversity loss and to help increase outdoor access for historically underrepresented communities, many scientists and lawmakers have called to conserve 30% of the world’s land, water, and oceans by 2030. Last year, the Biden administration signed an executive order to achieve this target with U.S. land and water, and state legislators are adopting their own 30×30 goals. 

30×30 and Biodiversity Legislation

  • Utah S.C.R.2 — Encourages cooperation and coordination between the state of Utah and relevant federal agencies to manage more efficiently the state’s resources and lands
  • Virginia S.B. 31 — Allows the Virginia Land Conservation Fund to make grants to state and federally recognized Virginia Indian Tribes and requires that at least one non-legislative citizen member of the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation Board of Trustees be a member of a state or federally recognized Virginia Indian Tribe
  • Vermont H.606 (vetoed) — Creates a statewide conservation plan with the goal of protecting 30% of Vermont’s land by 2030 and 50% by 2050

Plastic Pollution

273 bills considered from 36 states; 43 bills passed, 31 of which were enacted

Reducing plastic pollution and waste is a vital part of creating a healthy environment. This year, states continued to push for zero-waste policies that eliminate single-use plastics, improve waste management, and advance effective recycling strategies. In total, 270 bills were introduced across 36 states, with 20 states enacting zero-waste legislation.

Plastic Pollution Legislation

  • Rhode Island S.B. 2446/H.B. 7065— The Plastic Waste Reduction Act is meant to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags in retail establishments by offering reusable and recyclable alternatives.
  • Colorado HB22-1355– Colorado became the third state to pass an extended producer responsibility bill. This bill establishes a statewide program that provides recycling services, which will be funded by producers.
  • Illinois S.B. 1915– Amends the state’s procurement code to read that a state contract be awarded to a bidder who uses compostable or recyclable foodware. Prohibits procurement of single-use plastic foodware in State parks.
  • Hawaii S.B. 2290 – This bill bans the manufacture of a personal care product, such as rinse-off cosmetics, except a nonprescription drug that contains plastic microbeads.

Toxic Chemicals (PFAS)

218 bills considered from 31 states; 18 bills enacted from 13 states

PFAS, or “forever chemicals” that are found in many consumer products and cause adverse health effects, are being increasingly banned by states. This year, 218 bills were considered across 31 states. Thirteen states enacted legislation reducing the use and exposure to PFAS and other toxic chemicals.

PFAS Legislation

  • Maryland S.B.0273/H.B. 0275–  Prohibits any person or entity from using, manufacturing, or distributing Class B fire fighting foam that contains intentionally added PFAS chemicals in the state. 
  • Florida C.S./H.B. 1475– Requires the Department of Environmental Protection to adopt statewide rules for cleanup targets for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances in drinking water, ground water, and soil. 
  • Illinois H.B. 4818– Bill amends the state’s Environmental Protection Act to include that the disposal by incineration of any  perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances is prohibited. 
  • Maine L.D. 1875– An act that addresses  perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances pollution from state-owned solid waste disposal facilities.
  • Virginia H.B. 919– Requires the state’s Board of Health to review the recommendations of any work group convened by the Commissioner of Health to study the occurrence of certain contaminants in public drinking water prior to adopting regulations establishing maximum contaminant levels in all water supplies and waterworks.

Mississippi River Legislative Caucus

The Mississippi River Legislative Caucus (MRLC) organizes legislators in river districts to address issues of river health, water quality, agriculture, and flooding. This year, seven states in the Mississippi River watershed considered legislation to improve soil health, reduce nutrient pollution, promote sustainable agriculture, and increase flood resilience. NCEL staff also tracked legislation relevant to these categories in states outside of the Mississippi River Corridor to ensure MRLC members have broad perspectives on different policy approaches they can take. 

Soil Health

12 bills considered from 6 states; 1 bill passed and enacted

Mississippi River Soil Health Legislation

  • Louisiana S.B.205 — Strengthens the abilities of the state soil and water conservation commission

Nutrient Pollution

12 bills considered from 5 states; 1 bill passed and enacted

Mississippi River Nutrient Pollution Legislation

  • Wisconsin A.B.727 — Creates a commercial nitrogen optimization pilot program, provides crop insurance premium rebates for planting cover crops, and creates a new hydrogeologist position at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension

Sustainable Agriculture

24 bills considered from 8 states; 3 bills passed, 2 of which were enacted

Mississippi River Sustainable Agriculture Legislation

  • Wisconsin A.B.727 — Creates a commercial nitrogen optimization pilot program, provides crop insurance premium rebates for planting cover crops, and creates a new hydrogeologist position at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension

Flood Resilience

40 bills considered from 13 states and the District of Columbia; 12 bills passed, 9 of which were enacted

Mississippi River Flood Resilience Legislation

  • Louisiana H.B. 2 — Appropriates funding for local flood protection and resilience projects
  • Louisiana H.R.C. 82 — Directs the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to study water drainage issues in Livingston Parish as a result of Interstate 12 median walls