Assemblymember Barrett Represents New York at National Caucus of Environmental Legislators
State Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D – Columbia, Dutchess) represented New York as the state’s sole legislator to convene at the 2017 National Issues Forum of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators in Cambridge, MA earlier this month. Some 128 legislators across 36 states collaborated on policy solutions to combat climate change, create resiliency, remove toxins from drinking water and consumer products, and conserve water, public lands, and endangered species.
“It was an honor to join with environmentally-minded legislators of both parties from across the country and discuss our shared commitment to protecting our planet for our children, grandchildren and beyond,” said Assemblymember Barrett, who sits on the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee. “From green jobs to carbon pricing to the health benefits of outdoor recreation, great ideas were shared to put states at the forefront of fighting against climate change and for the environment.”
During the conference, Assemblymember Barrett spoke about her innovative “carbon farming” legislation A.3281, which would create a new financial incentive for farmers practicing climate-smart agriculture -- including no-till farming and use of cover crops -- resulting in both more nutrient-rich, resilient soil and a reduction of greenhouse gases.
“Our new tax incentive for farmers that takes carbon-based greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and puts it into our soil is a win-win-win for our planet, our food system, and our families,” said Barrett. “Other states were very interested in my bill. New York State must seize this moment to lead with this carrot rather than stick approach to getting carbon out of the atmosphere.”
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 spoke at 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.
NCEL Executive Director Jeff Mauk believes that there is an appetite for state action on environmental issues unlike anything he has seen before, especially in the wake of the President’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.
“Regardless of what’s happening in Washington, America will continue its leadership on combatting climate change because of the great work of states and cities,” said Mauk. “State legislators from both parties know that reducing carbon pollution and eliminating toxins are good for the economy and for the health of their constituents. We are excited to partner with the Schwarzenegger Institute to provide more tools for state legislators working on environmental policies in their states.”
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.
Coincidentally, just after the forum concluded the climate change findings of the National Climate Assessment (NCA) were released, detailing the dire effects of a warming climate that are already being felt in the United States.