Statement on Gov McAuliffe's Announcement to Create an Environmental Justice Advisory Council



For Immediate Release

TUE., OCT 31, 2017

The Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative Applauds Gov McAuliffe for EO 73

Today, Governor McAuliffe announced through Executive Order 73 the creation of an Environmental Justice Advisory Council. By taking this important action today, the governor is recognizing that many Virginians are harmed disproportionately by environmental impacts in their communities. This council will have the opportunity to identify solutions to these challenges, and we urge the current and future administrations to lead the progress towards a more safe, just environment for all Virginians. From the daily impacts of climate change felt in Hampton Roads, to the pollution endured in communities next to power plants, to communities in southwest Virginia living closest to mountaintop removal coal mining, environmental justice issues are present in all corners of the Commonwealth and elected officials have a responsibility to consider them in their governance.

In 1994, Federal Executive Order 12898 directed federal agencies to identify and address the disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their actions on minority and low-income populations, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law. The order also directs each agency to develop a strategy for implementing environmental justice. Since that time, many states have followed suit and today Virginia joins their ranks.

“We applaud Governor McAuliffe’s action today and look forward to working with the EJAC to ensure meaningful participation and representation from communities across the commonwealth that will hold our decision makers accountable to eliminating issues of environmental injustice. This is an important step towards all Virginians having access to clean air, water, and energy.” said Kendyl Crawford, Conservation Program Manager with the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter.

"It is encouraging that Governor McAuliffe recognizes climate change’s disproportionate impacts on communities of color and low-income Virginians. We are excited to find real solutions to help our communities live long, healthy lives, free of the challenges climate change can cause -- and to give voices to those most affected”, said Lafeetah Byrum, Climate Justice Organizer of New Virginia Majority.

“It is an outrage that children are still getting poisoned by lead today. Even more so that lead poisoning only gets widespread publicity when thousands of children are poisoned, as occurred in Flint, Michigan, when in actuality, every day, children are getting poisoned by lead exposures. Across government, state leaders need to be working together to address these issues and it is my hope that the Advisory Council will be instrumental in making progress towards the eradication of childhood lead poisoning.” Queen Zakia Rafiqa Shabazz

The Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative was created in 2015 when four organizations (The Southeast CARE Coalition, Appalachian Voices, Federal Policy Office of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and New Virginia Majority) saw the need for statewide coordination supporting and addressing environmental justice concerns in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Since then, the VEJC has grown to sixteen organizations representing communities from the Appalachian region of Southwest VA, Richmond, Southeast Community of Newport News, Portsmouth, Norfolk, VA Beach, Shenandoah Valley, Lynchburg, Roanoke, New River Valley, Fredericksburg, Southside Virginia, Central Virginia, Northern Virginia and the Eastern Shore.

Environmental Justice Collaborative member organizations and contact information:

Appalachian Voices (Kate Boyle, Deputy Executive Director (434) 293-6373)

Natural Resources Defense Council (Dawone Robinson, Urban Solutions Program (804) 767-0372)

New Virginia Majority (Josie Mace, Policy Associate (804) 269-7848)

United Parents Against Lead (Queen Zakia Shabazz, Founder\Mother of a Lead Poisoned Son, 804.308.1518)

Sierra Club Virginia Chapter (Kendyl Crawford, Conservation Program Manager (757) 268-8810)



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