Butler, Markey Introduce Bill to Codify & Establish Youth Councils at the EPA and Other Key Environmental Agencies

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the Youth Climate Leadership Act, legislation that would establish Youth Advisory Councils at key environmental agencies to elevate youth voices in federal climate policy. The bill would also codify the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Environmental Youth Advisory Council (NEYAC).

“If we are serious about changing young peoples’ lives, it starts with drawing from their input and doing the work to address their concerns. To legislate for the future, we must include the voices of our future leaders,” said Senator Butler. “The federal government needs to be better about including youth perspectives as we fight to achieve our climate goals.”

“Young Americans will inherit and live with the consequences of our climate actions or inaction tomorrow, so their voices must be heard at federal agencies today,” said Senator Markey. “I’m proud to cosponsor the Youth Climate Leadership Act, which would ensure that the generations most affected by the climate crisis have a formal avenue to share their critical insights.”

The bill directs the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, and Interior, as well as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to establish Youth Advisory Councils for the purpose of providing recommendations regarding environmental issues as they relate to youth, including:

  • Recommendations regarding programs to help local governments address environmental issues in disadvantaged communities;
  • Recommendations regarding performance measures to quantify the impact of climate change and other environmental harms that affect youth communities; and
  • Researching, writing reports on, and making recommendations with a focus on environmental justice, climate change mitigation and resiliency, and pollution reduction.

The bill provides $250,000 annually to each agency for the purposes of operating the Youth Advisory Councils, for total annual funding of $1.25 million.

EPA Administrator Regan established the National Environmental Youth Advisory Council (NEYAC) in 2023. The purpose of the NEYAC is to provide independent advice and recommendations to the Administrator on how to increase EPA’s efforts to address a range of environmental issues as they relate to youth. Council members provide a key perspective on how the impacts of climate change and other environmental harms affects youth communities.

The Youth Climate Leadership Act was also inspired by the youth climate leadership happening at the local level in California, such as Los Angeles County’s Youth Climate Commission, comprised of 25 young people representing the youth of LA County on the issues of climate change. This council works to strengthen LA County leadership on climate mitigation and adaptation by amplifying the perspectives and priorities of County youth.

In addition, the Youth Climate Leadership Act will further Senator Butler’s promise to keep empowering the next generation to participate in their democracy and fight for solutions to the problems that impact them the most. This bill comes on the heels of Senator Butler’s Youth Advisory Council which is comprised of more than 30 young people (ages 16-28) from California who will meet regularly with the Senator and have the opportunity to lend their voice on key issues – from climate change, to mental health, to economic mobility and more. The Youth Climate Leadership Act is currently endorsed by: League of Conservation Voters, California Environmental Voters, Environmental Defense Fund, Earthjustice, Latino Outdoors, Hispanic Access Foundation, Moms Clean Air Force, and Sierra Club.

“The climate crisis is poised to disproportionately affect younger generations, which motivated my proposition for establishing the Youth Climate Commission in LA County,” said LA County Supervisor and former United States Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. “I am thrilled to observe that this innovative approach is gaining traction at the federal level. Integrating the perspectives of young individuals is critical as we address the urgent challenges of our times. My gratitude goes to Senator Butler for championing the involvement of youth voices.”

“Young people have the most at stake in the climate fight and far too often don’t have a seat at the table where key policies impacting communities and future generations are shaped,” said League of Conservation Voters Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo. “We are proud to endorse Senator Butler’s common sense legislation that builds on the success of the EPA’s Youth Advisory Council and intentionally ensures participation from youth across the country representing disadvantaged communities.”

“Including youth in federal climate policy is crucial to addressing the climate crisis – not only does it acknowledge the weight of the inherited challenges that threaten their future, it provides a platform for their experiences, concerns, and solutions,” said Mike Young, Sr. Political Director, California Environmental Voters. “Empowering young people, especially those living in frontline communities, ensures that policies and decisions are inclusive, forward-thinking, and relevant to the challenges we face. We have no choice but to build a greener, more equitable future for generations to come, so we’re grateful for Senator Butler’s leadership on elevating youth voices.”

“Uplifting often unheard voices is an important part of what we aim to do at Latino Outdoors. The Youth Climate Leadership Act would do precisely that for youth, particularly for those in disadvantaged communities,” said Luis Villa, Executive Director of Latino Outdoors. “It would help demonstrate to young people that their voices matter and that they belong in the conversation about our collective future. We are grateful to Senator Butler and her team for proposing this legislation and for the opportunity to voice our support.”

“As a member of Gen Z, I believe youth advisory councils will serve a crucial role in providing young people a long-overdue voice in government decision-making and cultivating the intergenerational collaboration necessary to create equitable climate solutions,” said Sam Schmitz from Moms Clean Air Force. “Young people have already witnessed the dire impacts and injustices of climate change which has catalyzed us to be a generation full of passionate climate leaders eager to inform the decisions that will dictate our future. Moms Clean Air Force applauds this important step toward creating a healthy, prosperous, and equitable environment for my generation and all those to come.”

“Youth voices must be uplifted when it comes to climate policy,” said Jackie Ostfeld, Campaign Director of Sierra Club’s Outdoors for All. “Not only will this provide valuable experience to put our young people in a good position as the next generation of decision makers, these policy decisions have a direct impact on their futures. They deserve to play a part in deciding what that future is. We have already seen the ambition and drive young climate activists have. This is a wonderful move by Senators Butler and Markey to invest in the nation’s future and acknowledge the role that youth voices can have in shaping climate policy.”

The full text of the bill can be found here.


Stay Up To Date With Laphonza

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.