|Richmond, Virginia – To kick off Black History Month, Virginia Legislative Black Caucus members held a press conference on Wednesday, February 1st, at 7:30 AM to highlight the quality of life impacts of the many clean energy and environmental justice policies introduced in this year’s General Assembly. Members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus shared their work on clean energy and climate justice policies that positively impact Black communities.
“A lot of times, Black folks get left out of the conversation when it comes to environmental justice. Environmental justice encompasses so much way beyond what folks usually think. It encompasses housing, transportation, education, commerce, making sure that Black folks and people of color get the opportunity to join the renewable economy like wind and solar,” said Delegate Lamont Bagby (D-74th), Chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.
Many Black communities still face the impacts of systematic and environmental racism. Black and brown communities are disproportionately impacted by environmental issues, such as flooding and poor quality of air and water due to pollution emissions from industry. We must advocate for just environments and prioritize the needs of those historically targeted, disenfranchised, and redlined into polluting neighborhoods.
Delegate Delores McQuinn (D-70) said, “this year, as I have done in the past, I have looked at transportation as it relates to environmental justice and helping us to better understand what is needed in those communities. As a result of a study that was done, we were able to improve not only the health and the safety of Virginians, but we were also able to do infrastructure work in communities across the Commonwealth… House bill 2338 is important in terms of improving transit infrastructure. The goal is to make sure that transit access is safer and healthier again by providing sidewalks, benches, and other infrastructure needs.”
“I have joined my colleagues in the VA Legislative Black Caucus wanting to make sure we’re protecting our water, our drinking water, making sure we’re protecting our environment because we only have this one home that we call Earth,” said Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-11). “ So, we stand up together, and we can do that and at the same time and say that we’re protecting ratepayers and protecting those who are most vulnerable. That should be number one for all of us.”
In recent months, we have seen the devastating and deadly impacts of hurricanes and flooding in Virginia communities like Norfolk and Petersburg. As the harmful effects of climate change worsen, these vulnerable communities will continue to bear the brunt with limited support unless decision-makers step up and develop impactful solutions to address environmental inequities in the Commonwealth.
“One of the things we want to do this Black History Month is to help people understand that environmental justice is not just about lowering carbon emissions. It’s not just about changing our fossil fuel economy, but it’s also about fair housing, education, and access, improving our health outcomes not just for Black people, not just brown people but for all people in Virginia,” said Rev. Dr. Faith Harris, Co-Director of Virginia Interfaith Power & Light.
This press conference was sponsored by Virginia Interfaith Power & Light (VAIPL) and the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC). You can access pictures and videos from the conference here.
About Virginia Interfaith Power & Light: Virginia Interfaith Power & Light collaborates with people of faith to grow healthy communities and advance climate justice through education, advocacy, and worship. For more information, visit http://www.vaipl.org.