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Legislators from across the South and Political Spectrum Unite on Environmental Issues

First-annual Southern Regional Environmental Legislators Conference fosters bi-partisan dialogue on energy, transportation, and equity
NC Senator Natalie Murdock introduces GA State Sen. Nan Orrock and NC State Rep. Pricey Harrison as they prepare to speak to past successes passing bipartisan environmental legislation.

Atlanta, GA – On May 20th and 21st, 80 state and local leaders from across the South gathered in Atlanta for the first-annual Southern Regional Environmental Legislators Conference, hosted by Dream Corps Green For All, the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, and EVHybridNoire. Over the course of two days, Republicans and Democrats came together around shared common-sense solutions that will build a green economy that uplifts everyone in the South.

The power of common purpose was a theme reiterated throughout the conference, proving that difference does not have to create division. “​​We can fight pollution and poverty at the same time by creating clean energy jobs, green jobs, environmental jobs, and getting them to people who need the opportunity for work,” said Van Jones, Founder of Dream Corps, in his opening remarks encouraging legislators to engage in common sense grassroots organizing to achieve shared goals. “Top-down bipartisanship often does not work. But bottom-up bipartisanship…I think can solve almost any problem and it can certainly solve this problem.”

Keynote presentations by Quill Robinson and Jeremy Tarr highlighted the essential role that both progressives and conservatives play in advancing the future of climate policy. Tarr, Senior Advisor of Climate Change Policy for North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, offered real-world examples of climate bipartisanship in his state, like the recently-passed Energy Solutions for North Carolina law which will reduce carbon emissions by 70% before 2030 and achieve net neutrality by 2050. Robinson, Vice President of Government Affairs for the American Conservation Coalition, emphasized the integration of young conservatives in the climate movement, pointing to a common desire for environmental stewardship among Republicans. 

“At a time when division and difference dominate policy conversations, we brought leaders together to find common ground on climate,” stated CeCe Grant, Common Ground Campaign Director at Dream Corps Green For All. “Without real collaboration across the aisle, we will continually fail to move the needle forward on equitable solutions that benefit system-impacted communities that are hurt first and worst by the climate crisis.”

Presentations and panel discussions on energy, transportation, coastal resilience, and equity sparked conversations on how legislators from both sides of the aisle can work together to accomplish big wins for the environment. Georgia Democratic State Senator Nan Orrock and North Carolina Democratic State Representative Pricey Harrison shared lessons learned from years of experience in advancing bipartisan environmental legislation – emphasizing the importance of building diverse coalitions for collaboration. Georgia Republican State Representative Don Parsons attested to the bipartisan support for clean transportation technology that he has witnessed in the Georgia legislature over his 27 years of service, and explored opportunities to bring free market principles to charging infrastructure expansion.

“The value of convenings like the Southern Regional Environmental Legislators Conference cannot be understated,” said Jeff Mauk, Executive Director of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. “Bringing decision makers together – and providing opportunities for learning and collaboration – is one the most important tools we have to address the environmental problems we face.”

As the transition to renewable energy and electric transportation accelerates, legislators and advocates agree that the community should be at the forefront of those decisions to ensure no one is left behind. West Virginia Democratic Delegate Kayla Young spoke to the challenges of shifting to a green economy for coal communities, emphasizing the importance of listening to coal workers and families in the transition to newer technologies. Dexter Turner, CEO of OpConnect, shed light on the need to include charging opportunities for multi-family housing to increase equitable access to electric vehicles. 

“E-mobility best practice, inclusivity and equity drive our efforts to expand electric vehicle adoption across the nation,” said Dr. Shelley Francis, Co-Founder and Executive Director of EVHybridNoire. “We cannot accelerate multimodal transportation electrification if all communities, especially communities that have been disproportionately impacted by exposure to transportation emissions are not fully engaged – we must ensure that no one is left behind.” 

From building relationships with diverse leaders to experiencing electric vehicles firsthand at the EVHybridNoire Electric Vehicle Showcase, the 2022 Southern Regional Environmental Legislators Conference created space for state and local leaders to connect and explore ideas together on environmental issues. Legislators were empowered to take the lessons learned back to their home states and be agents of change by creating equitable, bipartisan climate policy that places communities at the center of the transition to a green economy. 

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ABOUT DREAM CORPS

Dream Corps closes prison doors and opens doors of opportunity through our nationally renowned programs Dream Corps JUSTICE, TECH, and GREEN For All. We bring people together across racial, social, and partisan lines to create a future with freedom and dignity for all. We are working to build a future where “we the people” means all of us. Learn more at thedreamcorps.org.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL CAUCUS OF ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATORS

Created by and for state legislators, the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that organizes over 1,000 environmentally-committed state legislators from all 50 states and both parties. NCEL provides venues and opportunities for lawmakers to share ideas and collaborate on environmental issues. To learn more, visit ncelenviro.org.

ABOUT EVHYBRIDNOIRE

EVHybridNoire is the nation’s largest network of diverse EV drivers and enthusiasts, the voice of multicultural EV drivers, and the first national diverse organization focused on e-mobility, environmental sustainability, clean energy, and transportation equity — providing access for all to next-generation vehicles and transportation options. For more information, visit evhybridnoire.com.


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