State Legislatures, City Councils, and County Commissioners should consider establishing a standing committee on the environment, if they do not have one already.
One of the obstacles to effective policymaking is that legislators lack the detailed, complex information they need to make policy decisions to adequately preserve and protect the environment.
Such an understanding can be developed through the creation of an appropriate legislative committee that can hold work sessions and legislative committees to conduct oversight and consider legislation impacting the environment.
While the various legislative committees of local governments around the country–zoning, land use, transportation, city utilities–all indirectly consider environmental issues or issues that impact the environment. However, they do so indirectly.
The urgent policy change that we require that all levels of government in order to avoid environmental catastrophe, further requires that we put Mother Earth first and foremost in policy decisions.
Having a Committee on the Environment is a simple, elegant, and yet critical solution for state and local governments to put the environment first.
SMART ALEC has drafted model legislation for consideration by state and local governments, which would amend an existing state and local ordinance establishing legislative committees to include a committee on the environment:
COMMITTEE ON THE ENVIRONMENT, CREATION THEREOF
AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND _______________ CODE OF ORDINANCES, PART ___, CHAPTER ___, ARTICLE ___ … SECTIONS ____ (STANDING COMMITTEES ESTABLISHED) AND ____ (JURISDICTION OF COMMITTEES) TO CREATE A COMMITTEE ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND ESTABLISH ITS JURISDICTION; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
WHEREAS, Mother Earth is facing an urgent crisis that requires immediate bold action from government at all levels and from civil society; and
WHEREAS, Mother Earth–the life and health of all beings; the capacity for regeneration; biodiversity; balance and restoration; and clean air, clean water, and clean soil–must be at the forefront of all policy considerations; and
WHEREAS, the environment cannot continue to be just one of many policy considerations, but must take first priority in the policy decisions of ________________________; and
WHEREAS, Code of Ordinances Section ______ establishes number of standing committees; and
WHEREAS, existing committees of the _____________ deal with environmental issues in partial or indirect ways; and
WHEREAS, no current standing committee of ____________________ has jurisdiction to put the environment first; to consider environmental impacts; to coordinate the efforts of all committees and departments; to monitor progress toward meeting environmental goals; or to consider and advance progressive and proactive policies around environmental stewardship and protection; and
WHEREAS, Mother Earth is deserving and worthy of a standing committee,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED BY __________________, as follows:
SECTION 1: That the Code of Ordinances, Part _______, Chapter ________, … Sec. ______ (Standing Committees), which currently reads as follows:
“There are established the following standing committees…:
is hereby amended to add an eighth enumerated standing committee as follows:
(8) Committee on the environment.
SECTION 2: That the Code of Ordinances, Part _______, Chapter _______ ,,, Sec. _____, is amended to add a new subsection ____ as follows:
(h) Committee on the environment.
Environmental stewardship and protection generally.
The consideration and advancement of progressive and proactive policies around environmental stewardship and protection.
Monitoring and promoting progress towards the meeting of any and all environmental goals adopted by ___________________.
Increasing recycling in ____________________________.
Increasing the use of renewable energy in __________________________.
Promoting water and air quality in __________________________________.
Preserving and growing ________________’s tree canopy.
Proactively preventing and mitigating flooding that can be exacerbated by development.
Considering environmental impacts of policy decisions.
(Oversight or concurrent oversight of relevant administrative agencies)
- (Other environmental jurisdictions as appropriate)
SECTION 3: Except as otherwise provided, the provisions of Section 1 and 2 are effective as of the date of passage.
SECTION 4: That all ordinances and parts of ordinances in conflict herewith are hereby waived to the extent of the conflict.