Environmental Organizations Hosted the Annual Virginia Environmental Justice Retreat for Legislators

Virginia Interfaith Power & Light and partner organizations hosted Virginia legislators at the Boar’s Head Resort to reflect on environmental justice issues in the state.

Charlottesville, VA – Virginia Interfaith Power & Light hosted their annual Virginia Environmental Justice Retreat for legislators from July 24, 2023, to July 25, 2023, at Boar’s Head Resort in Charlottesville. Legislators and environmental advocates gathered to learn about environmental injustices and solutions in Virginia. They were joined by several coalition partners and experts working to develop climate priorities for Virginia. Guest speakers, workshops, and wellness activities strengthened bonds to empower attendees to take action on climate.

Delegate Irene Shin representing Virginia’s 86th District, said, “One of my favorite things about attending the Virginia Interfaith Power & Light’s Environmental Justice Retreat with other legislators is the opportunity to talk to them about the pressing policy issues. The urgency of climate change is so pressing that it requires “all hands on deck” to figure this out together. When we talk about environmental justice, we understand that we are looking at it through the framework of race and equity. We must ensure marginalized communities are not the ones that continue to be left behind and the most harmed when creating policies.”

Some topics covered during the retreat included imagining a fossil-fuel-free future, the true cost of Virginia’s energy, climate resilience and mitigation, the climate investments, grants, and opportunities available through the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure and Investment Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act. The retreat provided tools and information for legislators to navigate this unique opportunity to make historic investments in the people of the Commonwealth.

“This has been a wonderful experience, and I have learned so much with my fellow legislators. One of my takeaways is the importance of talking to city leaders in Newport News about the amazing grant fundings coming down not only from the federal government but from the state government as well to address climate change and energy efficiency,” said Delegate Shelly Simonds, representing Virginia’s 94th District.

“We have unprecedented investments available from the federal government to mitigate climate impacts and to address the historic harm to Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. While this summer has had some of the hottest days recorded, we continue to face resistance to a just transition of our energy sector and economy,” said Rev. Dr. Faith Harris, Executive Director of Virginia Interfaith Power & Light.

Delegate Delores McQuinn representing Virginia’s 70th District, said, “We have an obligation. We have to ensure we are creating a better environment and world, whether in our various communities, Commonwealth, or this county. We have an obligation to make a difference, not just for the benefits of those of us living here today, but also for generations yet to come.”

The 2023 Virginia Environmental Justice Retreat evaluated ongoing environmental injustices in Virginia and prioritized a just transition of our energy economy. This event defined opportunities for climate and environmental justice and why addressing these issues for communities across Virginia is urgent. Legislators and experts have engaged in healthy dialogue over the past two days about how we will maintain a livable planet.

This event was sponsored by Virginia Interfaith Power & Light and Climate Equity Working Group. For photos and more information, contact Kidest Gebre at kgebre@vaipl.org or 804-659-9404.


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 https://www.vaipl.org.