Official Statements

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.”

Read the full statement

(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.”

Read the full statement

(January 7, 2020)


Statement: Virginia Clean Economy Act​

“Setting standards for clean energy and energy efficiency while addressing the weight of energy burden on low-income families lays a powerful foundation for moving toward climate justice.”

Read the full statement

(December 19, 2019)


Release: Climate in the Pulpits, on the Bimah & in the Minbar

“Over 70 Virginia congregations across the state preached about climate justice this past weekend or will soon do so this fall, reaching over 4,000 people in their houses of worship through the Climate in the Pulpits program.


Read the full release.

(November 18, 2019)


Release: VAIPL’s Response to Governor Northam’s Executive Order 43

“Governor Northam’s leadership through Executive Order 43 to reduce carbon pollution is a vital step forward to achieving 100% clean energy in Virginia. His efforts to cut dangerous carbon pollution will decrease suffering and save lives.

Read the full release.

(September 17, 2019)


Release: Governor Northam Receives Report on Revitalizing Environmental Protection

“If ‘the environment belongs to all of us,’ we all must work together to be good stewards. This means holding each other accountable, ensuring that funds are appropriated to these initiatives and concrete milestones are laid out to achieve them.

Read the full release.

(Aug 20, 2019)


Release: Faith Leaders & Organizers Take Bus Tour to Explore Environmental Racism in Hampton Roads

“On a bus tour Wednesday afternoon, clergy and faith leaders took to the streets to learn about the connections between environmental justice and theology. The tour served to educate and empower people of faith with knowledge about the impact of pollution on their communities.”

Read the full release.

(June 26, 2019)


Statement: Governor Northam Rejects Proposal to Limit Pollution

“Today, Governor Northam failed to veto budget language preventing Virginia from moving forward to limit carbon pollution from power plants. The budget signed today will prevent Virginia from linking with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI is a cap and trade program for carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector currently with nine participating states.”

Read the full release.

(May 2, 2019)


Statement: Governor Northam Rejects Proposal to Limit Pollution

“Today, Governor Northam failed to veto budget language preventing Virginia from moving forward to limit carbon pollution from power plants. The budget signed today will prevent Virginia from linking with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI is a cap and trade program for carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector currently with nine participating states.”

Read the full release.

(May 2, 2019)

Statement: Good News: Air Board Caps Carbon Pollution

“Today, Virginia became a climate leader in the south by finalizing a long-awaited standard to protect Virginia families and communities from carbon pollution.

A vote by the Air Pollution Control Board approved Executive Directive 11, which caps greenhouse gas emissions by allowing Virginia power plants to trade allowances for carbon pollution with the nine states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).”

Read the full release.

(April 19, 2019)


Statement: Governor Northam Vetoes Bill Limiting VA’s Ability to Reduce Power Plant Pollution

“People of faith and conscience from across Virginia have spoken up on the importance of addressing climate change because of its far-reaching moral implications. Vetoing a bill that would have undercut Virginia’s efforts to clean up pollution and safeguard its citizens is a good decision.

As young people and students around the world and right here in Richmond are gearing up to bring attention to the climate crisis tomorrow for the Youth Climate Strike, it reminds us of the urgency of moving forward to cut carbon pollution and to adapt to the consequences of climate disruption.

Read the full release.

(March 14, 2019)


Statement on Governor Northam’s Yearbook Photo

“We have concerns about how well the governor understands how deeply racism is embedded and institutionalized in Richmond and throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The environmental justice community, especially residents of Union Hill in Buckingham County, have been trying to educate him on environmental racism for years now particularly as relates to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline proposed compressor station.

We are waiting to see if and how Northam will prioritize racial healing. We continue to monitor the unfolding situation.”

(February 11, 2019)


Statement: Governor Northam Announces Environmental Justice Council

“In order for the health of all families and communities to be protected no matter where they live, work, play, and pray, we must make sure the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice is fully funded, codified, and has the authority to ensure the incorporation of environmental justice throughout our policies.

Re-establishing the Council is one step towards making the Commonwealth a more environmentally just place. The recent treatment of environmental justice communities has made it clear that we have a long way to go. Environmental justice has been ignored in Virginia for too long, and the leadership of many elected officials on this issue has been woefully inadequate.

I have faith that this moment will inspire an even greater movement towards justice.”

Read the full release.

(January 22, 2019)

Statement: Air Pollution Control Board Approves Air Permit for the Buckingham Compressor Station

“People of faith across the commonwealth have consistently called out the injustice of this compressor station, and we will continue to answer the higher, moral call to love and care for our neighbors.

The choice of the Air Pollution Control Board and the Department of Environmental Quality to permit the sacrifice of our neighbors’ health and safety for a private company to profit is disheartening.

The approval of this permit and the interference of Governor Northam in the permitting process makes it clear that we need comprehensive policy on environmental justice and to codify the Governor’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice.”

Read the full release.

(January 8, 2019)


Statement: Air Pollution Control Board Defers Air Permit Vote on the Buckingham Compressor Station

“Virginians of faith have taken action out of a moral responsibility to protect the most vulnerable from the negative impacts of fossil fuel infrastructure. Today, over 40 people of faith, who are also Dominion Energy customers, have turned off their lights as part of a 24-hour Power-Fast and an act of solidarity with Union Hill.

We are thankful that the Air Pollution Control Board has decided to take additional time to consider environmental injustice, site suitability, and cumulative impacts of the entire pipeline by deferring their vote on the air permit.

We believe that decisions about energy production are moral issues at their core, and that sacrificing our neighbors’ health and safety for a private company to profit is wrong.”

Read the full release.

(November 9, 2018)


Statement: Interfaith Organization Encourages Governor Northam to Reaffirm Commitment to Environmental Justice

“In the past, Governor Ralph Northam and Secretary of Natural Resources Matt Strickler have both spoken on their commitment to environmental justice. We urge Governor Northam to reflect on the importance of justice enabling all Virginians to live in a clean, safe environment.

We encourage him to issue an executive order re-affirming his commitment to environmental justice that firmly places the Advisory Council on Environmental Justice on solid legal ground. In these turbulent times, our society must not forget our higher call to love and care for our neighbors.”

Read the full release.

(October 25, 2018)


Press Release – Faith Delegation Recommends Urgent Action on Pipelines
VAIPL report details moral implications of Atlantic Coast Pipeline Buckingham compressor station

“In light of recent setbacks for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Virginia Interfaith Power & Light released a report today entitled Our Air, Our Lives: Religious Fact-Finding Delegation to Buckingham County. The report recommends urgent action, such as participating in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Buckingham compressor station air permit public comment period open through September 11 and interfaith prayer and meditation for the strength and renewal of the residents of Buckingham and those across Virginia being impacted by the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. …

Read the full press release.

(August 16, 2018)


VAIPL Steering Committee Statement in response to the current Administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy for people seeking asylum at our southern border

“… Some may be wondering why and how this might relate to the mission of Virginia Interfaith Power & Light. Our mission is to work with people of all faiths to ensure healthy communities and climate justice through education and advocacy. This work and mission is increasingly related to immigration as we see the consequences and impacts of the climate crisis grow around the globe. In our hemisphere, more peoples will be driven from their homelands due to drought, wildfires, floods, severe storms, insect infestations, and extreme heat waves. A global community that strives for human rights will be called upon to respond with support and welcome to the many who will be displaced. The negative trend in this nation, coming from the leadership in government and supported by some citizens, to respond with negative immigration and hard hearted zero tolerance policies exacerbates the suffering of those seeking refuge and may lead to even more diabolical remedies. …”

Read the full statement.

(July 3, 2018)


Press Release – Faith Leaders Deliver Letter to Northam Calling for Environmental Justice in Memory of MLK
Praying for Communities in Destructive Path of Pipelines

“On the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., faith leaders gathered on the Virginia Capitol Grounds for a vigil and to deliver a sign-on letter (pasted below) to Governor Ralph Northam from 70 lay leaders and clergy raising urgent environmental justice concerns felt by communities along the proposed routes of the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines. The letter calls for Northam to reject the pipelines.

“’Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said ‘Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness’ and in my view, those who choose and side with pipelines, compressor stations, who deny the devastating effects that man has and inflicts upon nature have chosen the latter,’ said Rev. Paul Wilson, Senior Pastor of Union Hill/Grove Baptist Church. …”

Read the full press release.

(April 4, 2018)


VAIPL Board of Director’s Statement in response to the Virginia State Water Control Board’s decisions to approve the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines

“On Thursday, December 7, the State Water Control Board voted 5-2 to approve the permit for the fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline. On Tuesday, December 12, the board voted 4-3 to approve the Atlantic Coast Pipeline pending approval of a series of plans and mitigation measures. Both decisions were made after extensive testimony from landowners and experts on the property rights violations and threats to public health that the pipelines pose. Testimony included hundreds of face-to-face personal statements and thousands of publicly submitted comments.

As people driven by faith to uphold a vision of the intrinsic worth of Creation, shared abundance, neighborly love, and the sanctity of life, we at Virginia Interfaith Power and Light condemn the Water Control Board’s decision as absolutely counter to these values. …

Read the full statement.

(December 20, 2017)


Press Release – Interfaith Leaders Confront Environmental Racism in Virginia

“On the heels of the efforts to begin repealing the Clean Power Plan last week, interfaith leaders, academics and community members came together to discuss solutions to environmental racism at Coburn Hall on the Virginia Union University campus on Saturday, October 21. The event was moderated by Dr. Corey Walker, Dean of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology of Virginia Union University and featured speakers from the medical community and Christian, Muslim, Baha’i and Hindu backgrounds. …

Read the full press release.

(October 21, 2017)


Press Release – Virginia Interfaith Power & Light: Clean Power Plan repeal unacceptable

“The Trump administration’s proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan abdicates our country’s moral responsibility to act to protect the most vulnerable among us. This action will cause additional needless suffering not only for those living in the United States, but across the globe as extreme weather grows increasingly deadly. …”

Read the full press release.

(October 10, 2017)


VAIPL Board of Directors’ Statement: “In the wake of Hurricane Harvey…”

“Less than two weeks ago, we witnessed a horrible tragedy unfold in Texas and on the Gulf Coast. Now thousands are beginning to make their way back to their homes. This past Sunday, on the National Day of Prayer for Harvey victims, folks of all faiths across the nation prayed for healing and peace after the storm that took the lives of at least 60 people. VAIPL’s Board and staff work everyday to increase the capacity for Virginians to live sustainable lives. Our commitment to Virginia does not preclude keeping faith with other communities around the country and world who need our help. …”

Read the full statement. 

(September 8, 2017)


VAIPL Board of Directors’ Statement on the Events in Charlottesville

“… We work every day to advocate for justice focusing specifically on environmental policies and laws that will protect clean air and water for Virginians. We also work to protect the wonderful gift of the creation and we do so as an act of worship and gratefulness. These efforts are tightly linked to intersecting justice issues, which impact all of our lives. …”

Read the full statement, and our Open Letter to Charlottesville that our IPL affiliates, congregations, clergy, and individuals signed onto.

(August 16, 2017 & September 15, 2017)


In Response to Executive Directive 11, Virginia Interfaith Power & Light co-chair Rev. Dr. Faith Harris Released the Following Statement:

Our Virginia faith communities applaud Gov. McAuliffe for speaking out for climate action and for taking a step – through Executive Directive 11 — to limit carbon pollution throughout the state. Our nation’s current climate progress rests with state governors and legislators, and we’re particularly grateful that Gov. McAuliffe understands the need to act now.

That said, it is critical that we recognize the effects of carbon pollution, especially on Virginia’s most vulnerable populations, and take strong action to address these negative impacts. Therefore, as people of faith who are called to stand with “the least of these,” we commend to your attention the recommendations of the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative, prepared for the EO 57 Working Group in February 2017 — specifically, creating an Environmental Justice Advisory Council and convening a Coastal Community Resiliency Task Force.

It is our moral obligation to speak out for climate justice, and we implore Gov. McAuliffe to consider further possible action.

(May 31, 2017)


Letter of Support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline

As the leaders of Virginia Interfaith Power and Light (VAIPL), we stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies who are using their bodies as shields against the destructive potential of a pipeline which will transport somewhere between 470,000 and 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day across four states. The leaders of VA IPL agree that transporting oil through pipelines threatens the environment, as well as Indigenous burial and prayer sites. And expanding fossil fuel infrastructure perpetuates our use of dirty energy that damages our life-giving climate, when we should all be working instead to expand clean energy “from heaven,” powered by the wind and sun.

The sacred land is entrusted to all of our care and the water protectors, who are facing arrest and excessive force, are reminding us that it is all of our responsibility to be keepers of Creation. Please encourage your faith community to pray for our brothers and sisters fighting to protect the water and land. Take further action by calling Defense Secretary Mattis (703-571-3343 Ext. #5) or calling the White House (1-888-201-9377) to demand that a full Environment Impact Statement be completed before further action is taken. Learn more at #WaterIsLife

(February 9, 2017)