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.

2020 Environmental Justice Interagency Report

VCEJ 2020 Annual Report


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

  • Lillian “Ebonie” Alexander of Mecklenburg, Executive Director, Black Family Land Trust, Inc.
  • Andres Alvarez of Williamsburg, Deputy State Coordinator for Mission Support, Virginia Department of Emergency Management
  • Nikki Bass of Washington, D.C., Tribal Councilwoman, Nansemond Indian Nation
  • Tom Benevento of Harrisonburg, Social Ecologist and Community Organizer, New Community Project
  • Theresa L. Burriss, PhD of Bristol, Associate Professor, School of Teacher Education and Leadership and Director of Appalachian Studies, Radford University
  • Karen T. Campblin, AICP of Fairfax, Founder, ktcPLAN, LLC
  • Duron Chavis of Richmond, Founder, Happily Natural Day
  • Kendyl Crawford of Richmond, Director, Virginia Interfaith Power & Light
  • Taysha DeVaughan of Big Stone Gap, 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
  • Aliya Farooq of Chester, Environmental Advocate, Vice Chair, Virginia Interfaith Power & Light, and Board Member, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
  • Jamie R. Hurd of Hampton, Licensed Professional Counselor
  • Reverend Dr. Faith B. Harris of Henrico, Assistant Professor, Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, Virginia Union University and Chair, Virginia Interfaith Power & Light
  • Phil Hernandez of Norfolk, Senior Policy Fellow and Counsel, The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis
  • Ronald Howell, Jr. of Spring Grove, Faculty Administrator, Virginia State University
  • Reverend Dr. Lisa Cropper Johnson of Accomack County, Pastor
  • Otis Jones of Chesterfield, Vice Chair, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Kathryn MacCormick of the Pamunkey Indian Reservation, Environmental Justice Consultant, Dominion Energy
  • Dr. Janet Phoenix of Herndon, Assistant Research Professor, Milken School of Public Health, George Washington University
  • Clarence Tong of Alexandria, Director, Environmental Defense Fund
  • Harrison Wallace of Richmond, Program Officer, Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund


Upcoming Meetings

VCEJ Southwest Virginia Meeting
Mon Oct 25, 2021 10am – 2pm

Join here:

Dial-in phone number: 866-692-4530
Dial-in access code: 2439 268 0151

VCEJ Southwest Virginia Townhall
Mon Oct 25, 2021 5pm  7pm

Big Stone Gap Visitor Center
306 Wood Ave E, Big Stone Gap, VA 24219

VCEJ Planning and Community Health Subcommittee
Fri Oct 29, 2021 1pm – 3pm

Join here:

Dial-in phone number: 866-692-4530
EvDial-in event code: 2427 790 5089

December 2

Time TBD

Virginia Council on Environmental Justice Documents