About Us


Publication: 2014-01-07



Name:Owen Ambur


Name:National Caucus of Environmental Legislators


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... NCEL is [a] 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 nearly 900 state legislators representing all 50 states, representing nearly 15% of all state legislators.


  • Environmentally Progressive Legislators

  • NCEL MembersWho 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.

  • Edmund S. Muskie FoundationNCEL 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.

  • Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action NowThe Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now (CLEAN) was originally formed in 2009 as a partnership between NCEL, Clean Energy Works and the White House, connecting legislators from across the country with the U.S. Senate and key Agencies as they considered federal energy and climate legislation. In January 2010, a total of 1,210 state legislators signed CLEAN's bipartisan letter to Congress and President Obama, calling for action to address climate change and advance clean energy. Today, CLEAN works as a formal project of NCEL, engaging state legislators on both sides of the aisle to defeat polluter-funded attacks on clean energy rules at the state level, by engaging national security experts and retired generals and admirals calling for climate action, reduced reliance on oil, and rapid development of the clean energy economy.

  • NCEL Board of DirectorsManagement -- 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.

  • The Hon. James HubbardChairman -- James W. Hubbard is Assistant Majority Leader in the Maryland House of Delegates and has served as a member representing the citizens of District 23 for twenty years. Delegate Hubbard also serves as President of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, and is on the Board of Visitors for the School of Public Health at University of Maryland College Park. He is the Maryland Delegate Chair for the Chesapeake Bay Commission, and chaired the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Environment Committee three times. In 2000, Delegate Hubbard not only sponsored legislation to create The Children's Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council, but he has served and continues to serve as the House Representative for the council for the past twelve years. Delegate Hubbard proudly defends the environmental quality of one of Maryland's greatest treasures, the Chesapeake Bay, by sponsoring and co-sponsoring various pieces of legislation that have had a positive impact on the protection of the Bay. As a supporter of clean, renewable energy he is co-sponsoring the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2012 that includes a specified amount of energy derived from offshore wind energy. In 2006, he was the lead sponsor of HB189, the Healthy Air Act which is the strongest air emissions act in the United States. His Bisphenol-A prohibitions were passed in 2010 and 2011 which removed the toxic chemical from infant and child products. In 2012, Delegate Hubbard introduced legislation to improve children's environmental health by prohibiting child care products containing flame retardant chemicals. Throughout his time of service to the citizens of Maryland, Delegate Hubbard has been locally and nationally recognized for his many environmental and public health legislative achievements.

  • The Hon. Leon BillingsSecretary/Treasurer -- As one of the founders of NCEL, Leon volunteers as a consultant on NCEL's day-to-day activities. Leon served as a Delegate in the Maryland House of Delegates from January 1991 to January 2003 serving the Chevy Chase-Kensington-Wheaton area. Leon is a founding member of the Montgomery County Green Democrats, and a member of the Montgomery County Democratic Forum. From 1966 - 1978, Leon served as staff director of the U.S. Senate's Environmental Pollution Subcommittee, with primary responsibility for the major federal environmental laws now on the books, including the clean Air Act, the clean Water Act, the Noise Control Act, and the Energy Supply and Environmental Coordination Act of 1974. He served with Senator Edmund S. Muskie, from 1978 - 1981, first as his administrative assistant and chief policy advisor, then, when Senator Muskie was appointed Secretary of State under President Jimmy Carter, as Executive Assistant to the Secretary of State. From April 1982 - March 1983, Leon served as executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the political arm of the Democratic members of the United States congress. Leon also served as an adjunct Professor of the University of Southern California from 1981 - 1994, directing the Politics in Washington Program of USC's Unruh Institute of Politics. Currently, Leon is President of Leon G. Billings, LLC., a government relations consulting firm which designs public policy strategies on issues pending before the congress, and advises clients on political matters and a broad range of environmental, energy, health, and safety legislation. He is President of the Edmund S. Muskie Foundation. He also serves on the board of Visitors of the Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service in Portland, Maine. Leon serves as President of the Clean Air Trust, a grass roots advocacy organization that Senator Muskie co-chaired.

  • The Hon. Diana UrbanBoard Member -- Diana Urban was first elected to the Connecticut General Assembly on November 7, 2000. She is a member of the Legislature's Environment Committee and the Program Reciew and Investigations Committee. Representative Urban has significant concerns about both the economy and environment, and has committed her career to finding and maintaining a balance that encourages sustainable growth within Connecticut. She is a two time recipient of the American Lung Association of Connecticut's Breath of Life Award for her work in helping to clean up the state's "Sooty Six" power plants. She was also named one of the four most influential legislators on the environment by the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, as well as an "Environmental Hero." For twenty-six years Representative Urban was employed as an Economics and Political Science professor. Most recently she taught Micro and Macro Economics, Environmental Studies and Regulation as an Adjunct professor at Three Rivers College and Environmental Conservation at the University of Connecticut Avery Point. She is currently a Senior Consultant with the Results Leadership Group in Washington DC. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Long Island University where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Representative Urban earned a Masters in Urban and Policy Sciences from SUNY at Stony Brook and has studied for her PhD in Economics at the University of Rhode Island. Representative Urban also pursued a Professional Diploma in Music from Longy Institute of Music in Cambridge and received a fellowship to the Kennedy School at Harvard University to study public policy.

  • The Hon. Robert CowlesBoard Member -- Senator Robert L. Cowles has served in the Wisconsin Legislature since 1983 when he was first elected to the State Assembly, and has been a member of the State Senate since April 1987. Prior to serving in the legislature, Robert Cowles graduated from the University of Green Bay where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree. He then worked in the private sector as a director of an alternative energy division for a communications construction company. Senator Cowles serves as the Chair of the Committee on Energy, Biotechnology and Consumer Protection in the Wisconsin Senate. In this role, Senator Cowles is known for his ability to balance environmental protection with business needs and has guided sound environmental/business policy for the State of Wisconsin.

  • J.R. TolbertExecutive Director -- J.R. Tolbert comes to NCEL having spent 10 years in the non-profit sector. Most recently, J.R. spent the past four years advocating on behalf of clean air, clean water and clean energy before the Virginia General Assembly. In this role, J.R. identify the need for environmental organizations to try and identify what legislators are most interested in and work on those shared goals to achieve change. Prior to his time lobbying in Virginia, J.R. worked for several non-profit organizations to help achieve annual fundraising goals. He has significant experience in grantseeking, major donor development and implementing donor stewardship programs. J.R. is a graduate of Auburn University where he studied Political Science.

  • Dennis OzmentProgram Coordinator, Great Lakes Project -- Dennis Ozment served in the Minnesota House of Representatives for 24 years from 1984 - 2008. Rep. Ozment was respected by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle for his bi-partisanship. Dennis emphasizes the need to prioritize and focus on environmental outcomes - using common sense approaches to solve environmental problems without lowering standards. Dennis was the only Minority Member (Republican) to "Chair" a Minnesota House of Representatives' Committee from 2007-2008. During his career in the legislature, Dennis held many chairmanships including: * Chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Policy * Chair of the Agricultural, Environment and Natural Resources Finance * Chair of the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources * Chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Environment Committee Mr. Ozment always prioritized the environment and was instrumental in the passage of the Clean Water Legacy Act, Electronic Waste Management Act, streamlining the environmental review process while maintaining environmental standards, and led efforts to craft budgets that protected the environment, natural resources and rural communities. Raised in Rosemount, Minnesota where Dennis and Gayle also raised their family; Veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps; A Retired Fire Captain who served 27 years with the Minneapolis Fire Department; 3 Years on the Minneapolis Firefighters' Relief Assn. Board of Trustees. Dennis now resides with his wife Gayle on Lake Marie in South Haven, Minnesota.

  • Ruth MusgraveProgram Coordinator, Conservation Law Clearinghouse -- Ruth Musgrave has worked in wildlife and conservation law and policy for over two decades. She founded in 1990 and was director of the Center for Wildlife Law at the Institute of Public Law, University of New Mexico School of Law until it closed in August 2011. She managed numerous projects concerning wildlife and biodiversity law, including training, youth education, facilitation, legal and policy research, drafting legislation, analysis and publication. Musgrave is co-author of the Federal Wildlife and Related Laws Handbook and the State Wildlife Laws Handbook, and was editor of the Wildlife Law News Quarterly and the online "Wildlife Law News Weekly Alerts" from 1993 to 2011. She has been a Visiting Associate Professor and an Adjunct Professor and at the University of New Mexico School of Law, teaching wildlife law, biodiversity and the law, advocacy, and intellectual property law. She is trustee of the Frances V.R. Seebe Charitable Trust, and sits on the board of directors of several wildlife organizations. Ruth holds an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from The Colorado College, Colorado Springs. She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of New Mexico School of Law, where she was lead articles editor for the Natural Resources Journal. She clerked for Chief Judge Oliver Seth of the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals; was an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico; served as general counsel to the New Mexico Medical Society; and was in private practice for almost ten years before founding the Center for Wildlife Law. Musgrave is currently the president of Wildlife Policy Consulting Associates based in Olympia, Washington, advising agencies and nonprofits on wildlife and environment policy issues.

  • Jane KrentzProgram Coordinator Great Lakes and Mississippi River Projects -- Jane Krentz served in the Minnesota Senate for 10 years, (1993-2002). She was Chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee for two years, and Chair of the Environment and Agriculture Budget Division for the two previous years. Krentz was a member of the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources for four years. She currently serves on the Board of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership (MEP). During her time in the MN Senate, Krentz was recognized by numerous environmental and conservation groups for her work on preserving and enhancing our natural resources. She worked across party lines to successfully increase funding for natural resources and was particularly effective at developing coalitions between environmental groups and those devoted to hunting and fishing. Among the numerous recognitions she received include: The 2001 John A. Rose Award presented by the Fish and Wildlife Legislative Alliance in recognition of her "outstanding work in public policy regarding Minnesota's natural resource community." The 2001 Conservation Leadership Award from the St. Croix Valley Chapter of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association The 2002 Minnesota Ducks Unlimited Conservation Award for Elected Officials In 2003, Jane became the first woman ever to receive the Outdoor News Person of the Year Award, a prestigious award from the major newspaper in Minnesota devoted to sportsmen and women. During the 2000 session, Senator Krentz was instrumental in passing legislation that rededicated $25 million a year in lottery proceeds for natural resource purposes. The additional funds are distributed to the Game & Fish Fund, state parks and trails, regional and metropolitan parks and trails, local trail grants, and the state's three zoos. Jane graduated from Hamline University in 1974 with a degree in Psychology and Elementary Education, and completed her MEd in Special Education at the University of Minnesota. Jane currently serves as the Director of the McVay Youth Partnership at Hamline University, in St. Paul, MN. She remains a Research Fellow (part-time) at the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) housed at the University of MN. She has also worked part-time at the Guthrie Theater for over 40 years. Jane has served as the Regional Coordinator for the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) for over 10 years and is passionate about the opportunity to build relationships across state lines and party lines to promote stewardship of our natural resources.

  • Jeremy KalinProgram Coordinator, Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now -- Jeremy Kalin served in the Minnesota House of Representative from 2007 to 2010, where he applied his real-world knowledge of energy efficiency and green building to chief author the nation's strongest energy conservation law, the Demand Efficiency Act of 2007. As State Representative, Jeremy served as founding Chair of CLEAN (Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now) and co-chair of Minnesota's Green Jobs Task Force. Jeremy and his wife Hope moved out of the district in 2010 to Minneapolis, where they live today with their twin babies born in July 2011, and where Jeremy serves as President of Eutectics Consulting LLC, a clean energy economic development consulting firm that manages the CLEAN Network for NCEL.

  • Senator Mary Margaret WhippleProgram Coordinator, Chesapeake Bay Program -- Mary Margaret Whipple recently retired from the Virginia State Senate where she represented the 31st District (most of Arlington, City of Falls Church and part of eastern Fairfax County). Senator Whipple served four terms in the state Senate from 1996 to January 2012. Before her election to the Senate, Mary Margaret Whipple was a member of the Arlington School Board and a member of the Arlington County Board from 1983-1995. From her days on the County Board, Senator Whipple has supported affordable housing initiatives and she is now a member of the Virginia Housing Commission. Senator Whipple, a former chair of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) Board of Directors, is an advocate for transit and served for 25 years on the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission. The preservation of Virginia's environment is her passion and she has patroned significant environmental legislation, including the establishment of the Virginia Natural Resources Commitment Fund and bills relating to water quality monitoring, wetlands mitigation banks, and mediation in environmental disputes, among others. Her proudest legislative achievement was the passage of the Virginia Non-tidal Wetlands Protection Act. For her work on environmental issues, she has been honored by the Audubon Society, the League of Conservation Voters, and has been named three times as Legislator of the Year by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. She chaired the Virginia Commission on Energy and the Environment and is a past chair of the Environment Committee of the National Conference of State Legislators. A former teacher at Northern Virginia Community College, Senator Whipple graduated from American University and holds a Master's Degree from George Washington University. She is married to Thomas S. Whipple; they have two daughters and five grandchildren.

  • NCEL FundersThe National Caucus of Environmental Legislators is a non-profit, a 501(c)(3) organization. The NCEL is currently funded by grants from:

  • The Joyce Foundation

  • The McKnight Foundation

  • Scherman Foundation

  • Education Foundation of America

  • John Merck Fund

  • The Brainerd Foundation

  • The Bullitt Foundation