Take Action in Northern Virginia!

General Assembly 2019 Advocacy Priorities

All of our faith traditions call us to care for our neighbors and honor our interdependence with the natural world. Our burning fossil fuels for electricity is pouring heat-trapping climate pollution into our atmosphere, damaging our climate and hurting our most vulnerable neighbors.

Virginia needs to strengthen its laws to protect health and the environment to:

• Prioritize environmental justice and ensure all communities can access clean energy.
• Limit climate pollution from power plants and water pollution from toxic coal ash ponds.

Together with Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA), Virginia Interfaith Power & Light, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, and Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, Virginia faith communities are supporting the following proposals, which include several bills introduced to grow healthy communities and advance climate justice.

In addition, VICPP is hosting its annual Day for All People in Richmond on Tuesday January 22nd. Meet with your legislators and advocate for these Creation care bills! To sign up for the lobby day click here. To sign up for a seat on the chartered bus from Northern Virginia (leaving from Annandale and Woodbridge), email Stephanie Niedringhaus: sniedringhaus@gmail.com.

1) Codify the Advisory Council on Environmental Justice (ACEJ).

Sponsors is Del. Keam (D-Vienna). HB 2330. Sponsor is Del. Herring (D-Alexandria).

Our faith communities uphold the sacred value of life in all its forms and demand that a healthy environment, safe water, clean air, and properly enforced regulations are equally ensured for all people, regardless of race or income.

We are therefore calling on our legislators to codify Virginia’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice, which was created by the previous governor through executive order to provide advice and recommendations to the Governor on integrating environmental justice considerations throughout the Commonwealth’s programs, regulations, policies and procedures.

We will support bills that would give the council formal decision-making authority, would fund the council through the state budget, and would otherwise strengthen the council’s ability to insist that Virginia prioritize environmental justice statewide.

2) Adapt our coasts to rising seas and limit carbon pollution from power plants.

Sponsor is Sen. Lynwood Lewis (D-Accomac). Likely assigned to Senate Commerce & Labor Committee or Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee.

The climate crisis is already raising sea levels for our neighbors, especially in Hampton Roads. We want the Commonwealth to do its part to reduce climate pollution and support the Air Pollution Control Board in approving draft standards to cap carbon pollution from Virginia power plants. Virginians deserve to benefit from pollution auction revenues, not polluters.

The Virginia Coastal Protection Act joining Virginia to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) would benefit consumers by conserving energy. The bill would also become the first source of constant revenue for The Shoreline Resiliency Fund to help our neighbors facing frequent flooding in our warming climate. Governor Ralph Northam is supporting this bill.

3) Safe and responsible closure of toxic coal ash ponds.

Sponsors are Sen. Surovell (D-Mt. Vernon), Sen. Chase (maybe) (R-Midlothian), Del. Carroll-Foy (D-Woodbridge), and Del. Dance (maybe) (D-Petersburg). Expected to be assigned to Commerce & Labor Committee. HB 2105.

Too often, when coal plants have closed, utilities have put only thin covers over the toxic coal ash ponds they leave behind. The ponds can leak toxins into drinking water for decades. This year, a two-year moratorium on “cap-in-place” closure of coal ash ponds expires. This session, the Virginia General Assembly must enact legislation to solve our coal ash problem permanently—by requiring excavation of coal ash to modern, lined landfills or for use in safe recycling projects. Governor Ralph Northam is supporting this bill.

4) Increase access to clean solar energy for homes, congregations and communities.

Sponsors are Sen. McClellan (D-Richmond) and Del. Keam (D-Vienna). Expected to be assigned to Commerce & Labor Committee.

Working with Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, we’re advocating for the Solar Energy Freedom Bill that would reduce the barriers to solar power. Distributed solar means saving money for taxpayers, creating jobs, reducing our carbon footprint, and making our communities more resilient in the face of climate change and threats to the grid. Distributed solar ensures the benefits of our clean energy future will be shared with all of our neighbors.

Sponsor is Del. Rasoul (D-Roanoke). Expected to be assigned to Commerce & Labor Committee. HB 1902.

The People’s Clean Energy Bill sets aside $1 billion in grant funding from Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power to provide free solar institutions to lower energy costs for communities. Preference would be given to low-income urban and rural areas. Grants would be available to religious institutions, schools and government-owned buildings.


Speak Out Against Fracked-Gas Pipelines and #pray4treeprotectors!

#pray4treeprotectors #NoMVP #NoACP

Our energy choices are harming the health and wellbeing of pregnant women, newborns, children, the elderly, the poor, and people with asthma and allergies. As people of faith, striving towards creation justice means that we protect all of Creation, including our neighbors.

Right now here in Virginia we have an opportunity to stand with multiple communities being impacted by the construction of two fracked-gas infrastructure projects, the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). Already trees are being cut down to clear the land.

These pipelines are threatening drinking water, endangering families’ land, and impacting our national forests. This type of fracked-gas pipelines often leak and can explode, threatening life in the vicinity. In the United States, around 512 fatalities and 2,359 injuries have occurred since 1986, due to pipelines exploding, including recent explosions in Appomattox and Fauquier Counties, Virginia. And expanding fossil fuel infrastructure perpetuates our dependence on the dirty energy that is damaging our climate.

#Pray4TreeProtectors Social Media Action:

Please join us, together with our neighbors at Virginia Interfaith Power & Light and faith communities across the state, as we encourage Governor Northam to take a closer look at the impacts on Creation of the proposed MVP and ACP pipelines through the #pray4treeprotectors social media action.

We are lifting up the advocates who are tirelessly working and sacrificing to protect their communities’ life, land, and drinking water. We are also asking the governor to direct the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to conduct a water crossing review of particularly impacted waterways stream by stream, starting immediately, and to give the public time to review the erosion control plans before DEQ completes final plan review. Public plan review comments were submitted last October when the plans had not yet been completed.

Step One: Print

Print out a sample sign (click on the image you would like, at left) or create your own that speaks to you/your faith community about why you/your faith community feels called to stand with the tree protectors. We suggest that you laminate the sign if you want to leave it up for longer periods of time.

Step Two: Tie

Find a wide band of fabric that you can use to tie around a tree on your property or on the property of your faith community. Also gather materials to clip, pin or otherwise attach your sign (or signs) to the fabric.

Step Three: Take A Photo

Gather your community. Invite friends, family, and fellow members of your faith community to help you to attach the sign to the tree. After it is attached, prayers or hopes should be offered. Each person should then say a few words about why protection Creation is important to them as a person of faith. Finally, take a photo of the folks who have gathered with the tree and the sign. Feel free to bring a few extra signs if folks want to hold them for the photo.

Step Four: Post and Share

Post your photo on your personal and/or organizational social media accounts. Double check that you have tagged Governor Northam and used the hashtag for the action #pray4treeprotectors. Some ideas and sample messages for Facebook and Twitter are below.

Handles to Tag:

Main Hashtag to Use:

Other Hashtags to Use:

Sample Tweets:

._(Your Faith Community or Regional Name/Handle)__ prays for those who are protecting our trees from pipelines. #pray4treeprotectors #NoMVP #NoACP @governorva

We pray for those who are protecting our trees from pipelines. #pray4treeprotectors #NoMVP #NoACP @governorva

.@governorva please call for @DEQ to to conduct water crossing reviews #streambystream for the pipelines. We must protect Creation, including our neighbors. #pray4treeprotectors #NoMVP #NoACP

Quick note: If your tweet starts with a handle (like two of the sample tweets above), make sure to include a period in front of the handle. Otherwise, Twitter will only show your tweet to people following you and the handle you included.

Sample Facebook Posts:

We pray for those who are protecting our trees from pipelines. Our energy choices are harming the health and wellbeing of pregnant women, newborns, children, the elderly, the poor, and people with asthma and allergies. #pray4treeprotectors #NoMVP #NoACP @governorva

Since 1986, around 512 fatalities and 2,359 injuries have occurred due to fracked-gas pipelines exploding, including recent explosions in Appomattox and Fauquier Counties, Virginia. Too many lives have already been lost. It’s time to protect Creation. #pray4treeprotectors #NoMVP #NoACP @governorva

Share what your faith community’s prayer or hope is for our tree protectors here in VA.