The NCSL Blog


By Kristen Hildreth

Issues ranging from Real ID to food waste, pipelines, energy markets, water resource planning and more were topics of NCSL’s Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee's annual Spring Webinar Series.

The Haw River flows past the Chapel Hill Road bridge in the distance near the town of Bynum, North Carolina. A tributary of the Cape Fear River, the Haw River runs for approximately 110 miles and flows into Jordan Lake. Eamon Queeney | The North State JournalFull descriptions of the series:

  • April 21: State Compliance with REAL ID: An Update from DHS: As we approach the 12-year anniversary of the REAL ID Act, only nine months remain before residents from noncompliant states are unable to use their state issued driver’s license to board a commercial aircraft. With more than half of all states and territories not currently labeled as compliant, participants learned how the Department of Homeland Security is preparing for full implementation of REAL ID and what they are doing to work with states on the many issues impacting compliance.
  • May 4: Spoiler Alert: States Fight Against Food Waste: Getting food from the farm to our fork takes a significant amount of energy, land and water resources, yet up to 40 percent of food in the U.S. today goes uneaten. Food waste is the single largest component of municipal landfills, where it breaks down to produce methane. Attendees explored state efforts to reduce food waste which highlighted landfill bans, waste-to-energy systems, and tax incentives to encourage food donations.
  • May 18: Protecting Pipelines: Efforts to Reduce Excavation Damage: The more than 2.6 million miles of pipelines in the U.S.—enough to wrap around Earth 100 times—deliver natural gas, oil and petroleum products around the country. Most of these pipelines are buried underground, which means that, without proper planning, any construction project that breaks ground runs the risk of damaging pipelines in the extensive infrastructure network. In fact, excavation is one of the primary causes of pipeline damage. The webinar examined the risks to the nation’s pipeline network, federal efforts by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to reduce excavation damage and provided examples of state action to update damage prevention laws.
  • June 1: Baseload Electricity vs. Energy Markets: Policy Considerations: Lower prices for natural gas and renewable energy are altering some U.S. energy markets, prompting concern over energy reliability and job loss as traditional baseload power resources such as coal and nuclear struggle to compete. Several states are considering policies to protect struggling coal and nuclear plants to support jobs, reliability and energy diversity. However, opponents of these policies have said that a market intervention is not needed and that new approaches, such as demand management and energy storage, will address reliability concerns. Attendees discussed this energy sector challenge, state approaches to solving this dilemma, and reviewed likely outcomes.
  • June 15: Going with the Flow: Sustainable Water Resource Planning and Policy Making: Policymakers are increasingly faced with addressing the needs of their constituents while simultaneously balancing demand from neighboring states and industry to meet current and future user demands. Recently, several states, including Colorado and Connecticut, have developed statewide water plans to guide decision making and define goals and objectives for water management, while other states, such as Hawaii, have passed comprehensive water policy legislation. Promoting conservation and efficient practices can contribute to a more integrated and sustainable water resource plan for states—alternative water supplies, improved data usage and availability, updated infrastructure and user behavior all play a vital role in sustainable water management. Attendees discussed how state and federal programs can integrate sustainable water use into a statewide resource.
  • June 29: Active Assets: State Parks and Outdoor Recreation: States are utilizing their unique natural assets to increase outdoor recreation, tourism and consequently, revenue. Outdoor recreation generates $646 billion in consumer spending annually, leading to nearly $40 billion in state and local tax revenue. Whether surfing in California, fishing in Missouri, camping in Colorado or hiking in West Virginia, visitors and residents are exposed to nature while contributing to state economies. Attendees explored the impact of outdoor recreation on state economies, examined various funding approaches for state parks and heard state case studies highlighted.

NCSL webinars allow attendees to participate in meetings taking place around the world from the comfort of their desk. They are collaborative, interactive, easy to use, and free of charge. Most webinars will be recorded for those who are unable to attend the live meeting. For those who missed out on the NRI Committee’s 2017 Spring Webinar Series, find all the information, including speakers and recordings.

Questions? Email Kristen Hildreth, or call 202-624-3597

Kristen Hildreth is a policy associate with NCSL's National Resources and Infrastructure Committee.


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This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.