This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) met in Washington, DC to discuss local perspectives on climate, water, resiliency and environmental justice with Administration officials from EPA headquarters, regional administrators and the White House.
At a time when so many environmental issues are at the forefront for communities and the nation, the LGAC serves as a sounding board for EPA on rules and regulations, as well as policies and programs, such as the Agency’s sustainability and climate adaptation efforts.
“I was pleased to join leaders from across the nation to help the EPA shape sensible and workable rules and regulations for communities,” said LGAC member Cindy Circo, Mayor Pro Tem, Kansas City, Missouri. “The LGAC meeting was also an opportunity to share Kansas City’s passion and success in the area of sustainability while learning about areas where we can be doing even more.”
Over the course of the two and a half day meeting, committee members had conversations with Administrator Gina McCarthy, Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, Regional Administrators, and other officials about the importance of intergovernmental collaboration and cooperation on environmental issues.
A key theme that was repeated throughout the meeting was how the Agency supports local innovations and works to identify and highlight local sustainability practices that can serve as a model for other communities. Nowhere was this more evident than in the conversation regarding President Obama’s State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.
Three LGAC members serve on that Task Force, which is charged with making recommendations to the President on how the federal government can better support local governments and states in preparing for and addressing the impacts of climate change.
David Agnew, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, who co-chairs the Task Force, called on members of the LGAC and all local officials to submit specific recommendations (by early April) to the Task Force on actions the federal government can take to support local efforts.
Agnew said there is a “strong desire on the part of the President to move the ball forward in as many ways possible [on climate preparedness and resilience] before the end of his term.” This is welcome news to local governments who are already leading the charge but seeking additional tools and resources from the federal government.
The LGAC also dived into specifics, hearing an update on the recently-released proposed rule to change the Clean Water Act definition of “Waters of the US.” LGAC members were able to directly share with EPA how the proposed rule might impact their communities – from an arid environment like Arizona to wetter east coast communities.
“The LGAC is a great opportunity to review EPA rules and shape them so they work for local communities, the business community and our constituents,” said LGAC member Dave Richins, Council Member, Mesa, Arizona. “It is fascinating to be at the confluence of environmental protection and economic development and find solutions that work for both.”
Other NLC members on the committee include NLC 1st Vice President Ralph Becker, Mayor, Salt Lake City, Utah; Mayor Johhny Dupree, Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Gary, Indiana.
About the author: Carolyn Berndt is the Principal Associate for Infrastructure and Sustainability on the NLC Federal Advocacy team. She leads NLC’s advocacy, regulatory, and policy efforts on energy and environmental issues, including water infrastructure and financing, air and water quality, climate change, and energy efficiency. Follow Carolyn on Twitter at @BerndtCarolyn.