Statement: Virginia Interfaith Power & Light: Andrew Wheeler is the Wrong Choice for Virginia
Senate Privileges & Elections Committee Makes the Right Decision for Virginia’s Future
On February 1, 2022, in the General Assembly, the 15-member Senate Privileges & Elections Committee tasked with advancing Governor Youngkin’s nominees declined to submit the nomination of Andrew Wheeler for Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources by a 9 to 6 vote. Wheeler is well-known for significantly rolling back or slowing down environmental protections relating to climate change, water, air, and industrial toxins in his recent time at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Wheeler sought to weaken federal vehicle fuel standards and to undo the Clean Power Plan, which would have limited carbon pollution from our energy generation sector. He also sought to restrict the use of science in the rule-making process and in protecting public health and to hinder the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay by weakening Clean Water Act protections and proposing funding cuts to EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program by 90%.
Declining to nominate Andrew Wheeler was the right and moral decision for Virginia. Over the past few years, Virginia has made progress toward a just climate future by advancing sound energy, flood mitigation, and environmental justice policies that both protect residents and our resources.
Wheeler’s record with the EPA demonstrates that he is the wrong choice to continue that trajectory and the wrong choice to avoid future catastrophe for Virginia’s residents already facing climate impacts. People of faith are depending on legislators to remain steadfast on this decision. Saying no to Wheeler’s nomination if it should come to the floor means protecting Virginia’s historic and natural resources, our coasts, our wildlife, the Chesapeake Bay, and our neighbors.
Statement: VAIPL on Hurricane Ida and a Future of Extreme Weather
Virginia Interfaith Power & Light joins with the nation in observing with sorrow the effects of Hurricane Ida in Louisiana and other parts of the country. Like Hurricane Katrina 16 years before, Ida hit the coast of Louisiana on Sunday, with howling 150 mph winds causing devastating destruction, and leaving over a million households without power and access to clean water and basic services, all amid a stifling summer heat that could reach close to 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the region for the next few days. Even here in Virginia, a state of emergency was declared as a result of Ida’s remnants. As is always the case, the population most likely to suffer are the poor and disenfranchised.
A future of rising temperatures and extreme weather — stronger and more frequent storms and heatwaves, combined with intense drought and the resulting wildfires — is unavoidable in the coming decades, according to an August 9 report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an international panel of scientists. But the direst outlooks can still be averted, the experts said, if the world’s countries stop burning fossil fuels and take other immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. No region of the Earth has escaped the effects of climate change, and even if emissions were immediately reduced to no more than the amount that the Earth’s soil, plants, and oceans could absorb naturally, some of the impacts already set in motion would be irreversible within centuries or millennia, the report says.
Statement: VAIPL Black Environments Matter Statement Earth Day 2021.
“As we celebrate Earth Day 2021, we do so remembering George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN. Breonna Taylor in Louisville, KY., Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County, GA., Marcus-David Peters in Richmond, VA, and countless other victims of police violence who sparked last summer’s protests. Recently, a police officer right here in Virginia has been fired after pointing a gun at, and pepper spraying, a black US Army lieutenant during a traffic stop. In Mi… We do so saying emphatically that Black Lives Matter! We do so asserting that because Black lives matter, Black environments matter as well. We need to address the ways systematic racism determines the air we breathe, the water we drink, the communities in which we live, and the toxins which surround us, and the burdens we suffer from climate change.
In 1982 African American civil rights leader Benjamin Chavis spoke of “environmental racism.” He described it as “racial discrimination in environmental policy-making, the enforcement of regulations and laws, the deliberate targeting of communities of color for toxic waste facilities, the official sanctioning of the life-threatening presence of poisons and pollutants in our communities, and the history of excluding people of color from leadership of the ecology movements.”
End of Year Wrap-Up 2020 Newsletter
“We thought it would be a fitting way to end the 2020 year by providing visuals and a narrative report of a few of our accomplishments during 2020. Accomplishments we were able to achieve because of your generous support, trust, and faith in our Virginia Interfaith Power & Light staff, Steering Committee, our mission, and our good results. Thank you. We look forward to another exciting year and the continued opportunity to do good work in Virginia. Please enjoy this end of the year newsletter.
We have had an amazing year serving our neighbors here in Virginia supporting work to mitigate the impact of climate change, to advocate for a just transition to a renewable energy economy, and to protect frontline urban and rural communities unjustly targeted to carry the burden of polluting industries.””
Statement: Virginia Makes Legislative Commitments to Environmental Justice
“This is a historic moment for environmental justice in the Commonwealth. Finally, in response to generations of oppression and heavy environmental burden placed on the backs of low-income families and communities of color, Virginia has decided to make a commitment to the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of every person, regardless of race, color, national origin, income, faith, or disability. By no means is the struggle towards environmental justice over, but now a foundation has been laid with the support of Governor Northam.
We raise up the success of the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative, of which Virginia Interfaith Power & Light is a member, along with the efforts of environmental justice champions, Sen. Hashmi, Sen. Locke, Del. Herring, and Del. Keam. Moving forward we must not forget that caring for the sacred gift of Creation also means caring for our neighbors.”
(March 3, 2020)
Statement: Interfaith Organization Celebrates Union Hill Win While Pushing for Environmental Justice throughout Virginia
“Virginia Interfaith Power & Light celebrates this important acknowledgement of the community’s identity and the direct citation of environmental justice concerns by the Fourth Circuit.”
(January 7, 2020)