Virginia Council on Environmental Justice

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Environmental justice is defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, faith, national origin, or income, in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

No population, especially minority, low-income, or historically-underserved communities, should face higher levels or greater impacts of pollution than other populations. Some of these communities face more severe environmental degradation, which disproportionally affects public health and quality of life.

Addressing environmental injustice has been and continues to be a focal point of Governor Northam’s administration. Establishing a state advisory council on environmental justice was part of his campaign platform in 2017. Because this issue is so important, Governor Northam continued Governor McAuliffe’s Council through his first term. Governor Northam issued EO-29 establishing the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice (VCEJ) on January 22, 2019.

Recommendations to ensure that environmental justice concerns are understood, and that a framework is in place to address these concerns, are extremely valuable to the Commonwealth. While some state agencies incorporate environmental justice into their review process, there is currently no consistency in how these issues are evaluated. The VCEJ will help generate proposals for consistent approaches to evaluate environmental justice.

The full text of Executive Order 29 may be found here.

VCEJ 2020 Annual Report


Governor Northam announced members of the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice on May 3, 2019.

  • Nikki Bass of Washington, D.C., Tribal Councilwoman, Nansemond Indian Nation
  • Tom Benevento of Harrisonburg, Co-Director, New Community Project
  • Jevonte Blount of Hampton, Master of Public Administration Candidate, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Herbert Brown of Warfield, Marketing Manager, Browntown Farms
  • Nathan James Burrell of Richmond, Facility Maintenance and Operations Manager, Department of Parks, Recreation, and Community Facilities, City of Richmond
  • Hope F. Cupit of Bedford, President and CEO, Southeast Rural Community Assistance Program
  • Taysha DeVaughan of Wise, President, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards
  • Reverend Dr. Mike Ellerbrock of Blacksburg, Professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech and Minister, Catholic Diocese of Richmond
  • Jay Ford of Belle Haven, Virginia Voices Coordinator, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Owner, Shine and Rise Farm
  • Reverend Dr. Faith B. Harris of Varina, Vice Chair, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy and Chair, Virginia Interfaith Power and Light
  • Reverend Dr. Lisa Johnson of Accomack, Diversity and Inclusion Program Specialist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Raul Garcia Lopez of Arlington, Senior Legislative Counsel, Earthjustice
  • Nathaniel X. Marshall of Lynchburg, Equal Employment Opportunities Manager, BWX Technologies, Inc.
  • Janet A. Phoenix, MD, MPH of Herndon, Assistant Research Professor, George Washington University
  • Beth Roach of Richmond, Tribal Councilwoman, Nottoway Indian Tribe
  • EJ Scott of Manassas, Environmental Program Manager, Sev1Tech, Inc.


  • Meryem Karad
  • Trieste Lockwood