It is important that no segment of the population, especially individuals most impacted and vulnerable, should bear disproportionately high or adverse effects from pollution. To ensure that all people and perspectives have a voice, the Commonwealth requires a consistent, action-oriented approach to incorporating environmental justice into decision-making. As a result, former Governor Terry McAuliffe established the Advisory Council on Environmental Justice via Executive Order 73 to provide independent advice and recommendations to the Executive Branch on environmental justice issues. Governor Northam looks forward to continuing this work under his leadership, ensuring the protection of all Virginians and our natural resources.
The Chesapeake Bay is the world’s greatest estuary and one of our nation’s most significant natural resources. As a Commonwealth we must ensure that we are responsible stewards of the Bay so that future generations can enjoy this natural treasure as much or more than we can. The Bay provides recreation for Virginians and visitors, billions of dollars in economic activity, and tremendous numbers of jobs and products. We are working with all of the other states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, along with the federal government and the District of Columbia, to improve the Bay’s water quality and wildlife.
In August 2018, Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler convened the Aquaculture Work Group to develop consensus-based recommendations to promote the sustainable growth of Virginia’s clam and oyster aquaculture industries.
Virginia’s environment and economy are benefiting from improved water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, its tidal tributaries, Virginia’s Potomac River tributaries, and the Seaside of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Underwater grasses are more abundant; recreational enjoyment is on the rise; waterfront properties boost local government coffers; and the oyster industry is experiencing substantial regrowth.
Virginia is well positioned to promote further, sustainable growth of its clam and oyster economy by virtue of the extensive work being done to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution across the Commonwealth and by local governments and federal partners, private businesses, and many farmers.
The Work Group will focus their efforts on finding solutions to conflicts between shellfish growers and other uses, namely waterfront property owners, boaters and local governments. The Work Group will also explore how best to balance the shellfish economy with continued growth of underwater grasses.
This Commission will evaluate the recommendations made by then-Governor Kaine’s Climate Commission, determine what actions were taken on those recommendations, and issue an updated final report. The Executive Order gives the Commission one year to complete its work.
DuPont released mercury, a toxin that causes adverse effects in fish and wildlife, from its former facility in Waynesboro, Virginia between 1929 and 1950. The mercury continues to affect fish and wildlife along the South River and South Fork Shenandoah River watershed.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Secretary of Natural Resources (the Trustees) worked cooperatively with DuPont to assess potential impacts, and the Trustees proposed a settlement that includes over $42 million for restoration projects. The United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia approved the settlement on July 28, 2017. The Trustees are now working to implement the best projects to benefit the injured natural resources across the impacted watershed.
The Governor is committed to ensuring that open space and publicly accessible lands are preserved for future generations. Virginia is a state with wonderful open spaces: rolling hills, mountains, wetlands, coastal plains, farmland, forestland, and many other diverse landscapes. As our population and our development expands, it’s important that we manage that expansion in a responsible way that protects and preserves the diversity of the Commonwealth’s landscapes. The Governor is committed to preserving a mixture of culturally significant lands, historic properties, ecologically significant lands, forested and working lands, publicly accessible and private wildlife refuges, in tracts large or small.