RICHMOND — Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced the convening of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s first Environmental Justice Advisory Council (EJAC). The EJAC, established by Executive Order 73, will provide advice and recommendations to the Executive Branch on ways in which environmental justice should be incorporated in decision-making. Environmental Justice is the principle that no community or individual should bear disproportionate impacts from pollution.
“This Environmental Justice Advisory Council will work to ensure that every Virginian has a voice in protecting the quality of our air and water,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This Council will provide critical advice on how to protect our natural resources and address environmental pollution in a way that is both inclusive and action-oriented.”
“The Environmental Justice Advisory Council is a significant step in Virginia’s efforts to addressing environmental harms throughout the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward. “This is especially necessary as the impacts of climate change exacerbate the environmental and economic impacts that communities may face.”
The EJAC was one of the five recommendations from Governor McAuliffe’s Executive Order 57 work group, which was tasked with developing recommendations to reduce carbon pollution from Virginia’s power plants. The University of Virginia’s Institute for Environmental Negotiation will help to facilitate the work of the EJAC.
“The establishment of this Council provides an excellent opportunity for Virginians to broaden and deepen their understanding of the disproportionate impact of climate change and the environment on various populations and groups,” said Cheryl Gomez, Director of Operations and co-chair of the University of Virginia committee on sustainability. “The University of Virginia is excited to work with Governor McAuliffe to identify solutions and give individuals and opportunity to be heard.”
Governor McAuliffe will appoint members to the EJAC who represent a variety of backgrounds and geographic regions of the Commonwealth. The EJAC will annually draft a report containing specific recommendations in furtherance of environmental justice issues, including recommendations on proposed legislation, regulations, policies, and commencement of research initiatives.
Find the full text of Executive Order 73 may be found here.