Richmond, Virginia—Members of the Senate General Laws Committee voted today to report Senator Ghazala Hashmi’s SB1318. This bill expands upon the Environmental Justice Act passed in the 2020 session and codifies the interagency working group on environmental justice.
“All of us want to breathe clean air, drink safe water, and lessen the impacts of climate change. While we’re working towards these goals, we must implement environmental justice policies at all levels of state and local government,” Anna Scholl, executive director of Progress Virginia, said. “Communities of color and low-income communities have routinely borne the brunt of pollution and environmental injustice. SB1318 is an important step to ensuring impacted communities have a strong voice in the decisions that impact them.”
“CCAN Action fund believes that Virginia must be deliberate in its implementation of environmental justice as the policy of the Commonwealth,” Kim Jemaine, Virginia Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network and CCAN Action Fund said. “This legislation is an important step toward operationalizing environmental justice and considering underrepresented communities throughout our decision making processes.”
“Strengthening the Virginia Environmental Justice Act (VEJA) is essential to ensure that Black, Brown, and low-income Virginians are informed, thoroughly considered, and meaningfully involved in state agencies environmental decisions and actions,” Tyneshia Griffin, Environmental Policy Research Analyst at New Virginia Majority said. “Virginia’s current commitment to environmental justice is binding and foundational, but this legislation ensures the state matches this commitment with willful action that can advance environmental justice in directly impacted communities.”
“My dad was a textile worker, and he developed health problems related to the toxins he was exposed to. We don’t always connect the pieces of the puzzle, but disregard for workers’ health and safety, pipelines, climate change, they’re all part of the same problem,” said Brandy Faulkner, a leader in the New River Valley Chapter of Virginia Organizing. “Every one of us is affected, but some people more than others. We want to make sure we are sustainable and just, and moving towards a healthy planet.”
“Virginia legislators must be intentional and act with a sense of urgency. People are dying. Support of just and equitable environmental justice bills moves us one step closer to environmental justice being a reality for all Virginians,” Queen Shabazz, Coordinator Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative, said.
- Imposes requirements on state agencies to advance environmental justice
- Authorizes the interagency working group on environmental justice to solicit public comment
- Requires state agencies to adopt and implement environmental justice plans by October 1, 2021