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Green New Deal Virginia Calls on the Virginia General Assembly to Take Decisive Action to Address Economic Hardship, Health Disparities, the COVID-19 Pandemic Response and the Climate Crisis

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From the VA Green New Deal:

Green New Deal Virginia Calls on the Virginia General Assembly to Take Decisive Action to Address Economic Hardship, Health Disparities, the COVID-19 Pandemic Response and the Climate Crisis

Green New Deal Virginia is calling for meaningful legislation during this Special Session of the General Assembly that will protect low-income communities and those most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, including moratoriums on evictions and utility shut offs, rent/bill relief legislation, and worker protections; legislation on police reform like that recommended by the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus and Virginia Coalition for Transforming Police; labor protections for workers; bills to protect our voting system; and bills that would address the climate crisis, starting with the ill-conceived plan to allow 4,000 out of state workers to come to Southwest Virginia, a region with limited health resources, to build the Mountain Valley Pipeline in the middle of a pandemic.

Green New Deal Virginia also urges Elected Officials to pass legislation guaranteeing paid sick leave for full and part time workers, increased assistance to those who are unemployed, changes to the workers compensation system to relieve the burden or proof from employees, and hazard pay for front line workers.

We are in the middle of a pandemic that has especially hit communities of color and people living in or near poverty the worst, exposing the gross disparities that have always existed in our healthcare system.

We are in an economic crisis that has left tens of millions of people unemployed and struggling to pay their rent and buy essential supplies.

We are in a social justice crisis, where police brutality, the failings of our justice system and systemic racism are all on full display, leading to a mass movement to declare that Black Lives Matter, with a goal of finally addressing these realities head on.

We continue to experience a climate emergency, a fact that has not gone away because of the pandemic.

And we are facing a crisis in democracy, where those who are trying to cling to power are trying to sabotage an election and prevent people from exercising their right to vote.

Karen Campblin, co-director of Green New Deal Virginia and chair of the Environmental and Climate Justice Committee of the Virginia State Conference NAACP, urged legislators to act:

“We are at an inflection point in our nation’s history and in the Commonwealth of Virginia and now is the time for us to band together to pass long overdue legislation that will deliberately and intentionally transform, and help our communities heal and prosper.  The COVID-19 pandemic, economic devastation, police brutality and the climate crisis have created unprecedented pain for tens of millions of people.  We need solutions now that are at the scale of these crises.

Lee Williams, co-director of Green New Deal Virginia and a member of the Sierra Club, Virginia Chapter, said:

“The world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic shows that we can achieve solutions that once seemed impossible if we recognize the need for decisive action.  It has always been the case that, when it comes to the intersecting crises of economic inequality , systemic racism, health disparities and the climate emergency, the cost of inaction is higher than the cost of actually solving these problems.”

As important an opportunity as special session is, Green New Deal Virginia believes that what legislators do now is just the beginning of our work.  As the General Assembly looks forward to the 2021 session, we must ensure that lasting solutions to these problems become enshrined in meaningful legislation.  These solutions must include enacting the Green New Deal Act, a moratorium on all new or expanding fossil fuel or similar fuel infrastructure; a Renewable Portfolio Standard that transitions Virginia’s electricity to 100% clean, safe renewable energy by 2036, and an energy efficiency mandate that requires a reduction of energy consumption by at least 2.4% annually.  All of these solutions must ensure social and economic justice throughout with protections for workers, environmental justice communities, and ratepayers.