Executive Director Brian Johns recently published an op-ed in the Roanoke Times about the difficulty of getting environmental justice legislation passed in the General Assembly. Brian explained each of the bills they failed to pass and the consequences for Virginians.
From the article:
“Working-class families, neighborhoods of color, and certain regions of the state are disproportionately impacted by pollution, affecting Virginians’ public health and quality of life. The disparity isn’t an accident, and it won’t magically fix itself. Justice was not done for the environment or the people of Virginia when politicians voted against these common sense utility reform and environmental justice bills.
“All of us, regardless of our zip code, income, or race, deserve to breathe healthy air, drink clean water, have affordable essential utilities, and access to opportunities in the clean energy economy.
“We won’t solve environmental injustice and correct years of harm overnight. But our legislators must do better and start putting people over profits so we can make some progress toward rectifying the harms of environmental injustice.
“We, the people of the Commonwealth and environmental justice advocates, have come together. Now we need our legislators to step up and join us.”
Patrice powerfully expressed how it feels to be targeted by polluters:
“When corporations are permitted to pollute our neighborhoods by placing hazardous facilities and materials in the places where families gather outdoors for barbecues and children play basketball in the street, it is a clear indication of a lack of respect and concern for the people who live, work and worship in those communities.
“Environmental justice is nonetheless justice — for clean air, clean drinking water and clean energy are basic human rights. Whether a community recognizes environmental issues when a new development is proposed or learns of the issues long after it has moved through various stages of planning, community leaders must remember that it is never too late to take action and demand change.
“If your community is faced with environmental injustices like mine was, spread the message to everyone in the community, call and email those behind the injustice and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to voice your opposition and concerns. Contact info for its regional offices can be found at deq.virginia.gov.”