Gov. Northam releases Environmental Justice Report

Virginia

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam listens as he prepares to speak to a group of volunteers to distribute supplies at health equity community event Tuesday May 12, 2020, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND (WAVY) – On Wednesday Governor Ralph Northam released a report from the Interagency Environmental Justice Working Group.

The body was established in 2020 through a budget amendment to advance environmental justice within executive branch state agencies.

In addition, Governor Northam directed working group members to continue meeting despite a legislative setback that would have made the group permanent, and to discuss and provide recommendations on environmental justice issues raised during the recently concluded General Assembly session.

The working group is made of 14 environmental justice coordinators representing each secretariat in the Governor’s cabinet.

The report catalogs activities related to environmental justice within state agencies and identifies gaps in capacity and resources necessary to fully incorporate environmental justice into agency operations, Governor Northam said.

The Interagency Environmental Justice Working Group presented its findings by focusing on four areas within each impacted agency, including policy and regulations, community engagement and meaningful involvement, economic development and infrastructure, and fiscal impact and resources.

Governor Northam said he is tasking the working group with studying new processes and authorities needed to address the environmental justice implications of state agency actions.

The interagency working group will consult the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to address environmental justice determinations and direct concerns of traditionally underrepresented communities.

Governor Northam is also directing the working group to increase community engagement and involvement through outreach efforts that include public comment and forums regarding various agency-specific activities outlined in the report.

To view the full press release, click here.

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