Dec 9, 2021 • 27M

McGuire responds to redistricting; discussion on the new legislative map proposals; and more.

Filler-Corn's office responds to RGGI news, McGuire responds to redistricting, Herring and Hasmi release a joint statement, and more.

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Brandon Jarvis
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At the top of this newsletter, listen to my discussion with Marques Jones, Nathan Kiker, and Andrew Hull about the redistricting proposals submitted by special masters last night. We discussed Rep. Spanberger being drawn into Rep. Wittman’s district, the wild new district in Prince William County that is seeing a huge amount of interest from Democrats in the area, and Rep. Elaine Luria is facing tougher prospects with her district’s redraw in the second district.

Update: John McGuire released a statement on redistricting

Another Spanberger challenger, Del. John McGuire (R) released a statement on Thursday in response to the redistricting proposal moving him into Rep. Rob Wittman’s (R) district. Here is the statement from McGuire:

“Tracy and I are waiting for a final congressional map to be approved by the Virginia Supreme Court before we make any decisions. In the meantime, I am continuing to focus on my responsibilities as chair of Governor-Elect Youngkin's Veterans and Defense Affairs landing team. As a Delegate for the 56th District, I am also working diligently on our legislative priorities for the upcoming General Assembly session that will get Virginia back on track and make our Commonwealth the best place to live, work, and raise a family in peace."

House Democratic Leader’s office responds to Youngkin saying he plans to pull Virginia out of RGGI

Sigalle Reshef, a spokesperson for outgoing House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn released the following statement following the news that Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin wants to remove Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

“It is disappointing that in one of his first policy announcements, Glenn Youngkin is choosing to remove the Commonwealth from a program focused on combating climate change. By joining RGGI last year, we made Virginia a leader in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to clean energy, and the result has benefited our environment as well as our economy. This move would be a significant setback and will hurt our Commonwealth in the long term, and we are looking into whether such executive action can be taken on a bill that has been passed and signed into law.”

Hashmi and Herring say new opinion establishes Virginia’s environmental justice policy

In an environmental-related official opinion issued at the request of Senator Ghazala Hashmi, Attorney General Mark Herring provided an opinion that Hashmi says establishes Virginia’s environmental justice policy and concludes that state agencies, specifically the Department of Environmental Quality, must consider the Environmental Justice Act (EJA) during the permitting process for any kind of construction, program, or policy. The opinion will help ensure that environmental justice, as outlined in the Act, “is carried out” across the Commonwealth for any new project. 

“The environmental justice impacts and consequences should be considered with any kind of project or construction that happens within the Commonwealth, and it’s on the respective state agencies to ensure that happens,” Herring said. “Too often, projects that had a negative environmental impact have disproportionately affected communities of Black and Brown Virginians, many times to the detriment of the individuals’ health who lived there. Ensuring environmental justice in every corner of Virginia is just another way we will be able to pursue our goal of making the Commonwealth more open and welcoming to all.”

Herring has just over a month left in his second term as Virginia’s attorney general.

“I thank the Attorney General for rendering his opinion that the Environmental Justice Act not only establishes environmental justice as a policy of the Commonwealth, but that it also imposes a responsibility on our agencies to include these concerns within all permitting decisions,” said Senator Hashmi. “Most particularly, the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality must evaluate permitting decisions through the lens of environmental justice and evaluate the impacts on our fenceline communities. The AG's opinion validates the years of effort by so many individuals and organizations that have shone a consistent spotlight on the environmental injustices of the past.”

Through legislation carried by Delegate Mark Keam and Senator Hashmi, the Environmental Justice Act was passed during the 2020 General Assembly Session and “provides that ‘[i]t is the policy of the Commonwealth to promote environmental justice and to ensure that it is carried out throughout the Commonwealth, with a focus on environmental justice communities and fenceline communities.’” The EJA was recently cited by the State Air Pollution Control Board in its decision to deny the permit for the Lambert Compressor Station. 

In his opinion, Herring notes that “[u]nder the EJA, ‘environmental justice’ means ‘the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of every person, regardless of race, color, national origin, income, faith, or disability, regarding the development, implementation, or enforcement or any environmental law, regulation or policy.’” He further explains that “the EJA defines ‘fair treatment’ as ‘the equitable consideration of all people whereby no group of people bears a disproportionate share of any negative environmental consequence resulting from an industrial, governmental, or commercial operation, program, or policy.’”

Attorney General Herring concludes the opinion by saying, “the Environmental Justice Act not only sets forth a policy of the Commonwealth but also imposes specific, enforceable duties on the Commonwealth to ensure that the policy is carried out. Therefore, the Director [of the Department of Environmental Equality] must ensure that environmental justice, as defined in the Act, ‘is carried out’ when making his determinations . . .”

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