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, Governor 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.
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 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.
Governor McAuliffe was recently named the new chair of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s executive council, and his leadership will be critical as we work to meet the requirements of the recently signed Chesapeake Bay Agreement.
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.
PROTECTING VIRGINIA'S AIR AND WATER
Governor McAuliffe is committed to ensuring that Virginians have access to healthy air and clean water. In keeping with that commitment, he works to ensure that Virginia maintains reasonable and business friendly regulations that maintain environmental quality while supporting the growth of industry in the Commonwealth.
PRESERVING VIRGINIA'S HISTORY
The Natural Resources Secretariat oversees the Department of Historic Resources and the Virginia Museum of Natural History. The Governor has made it clear that Virginia’s historic contributions to our nation – the greatest and most significant history in the United States – must be preserved and maintained. Moreover, that history must be communicated to future generations so that all Virginians can gain a greater understanding of our unique and continuing leadership role in our nation and the world.
In response to his veto of legislation filed during the 2016 General Assembly session, Governor McAuliffe directed Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward to form a work group with the Department of Historic Resources. This work group facilitated a dialogue and studied best practices regarding how to balance the preservation of history with the legitimate concerns many Virginians have about certain types of monuments and memorials.
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.
The Governor’s Executive order directs the Secretary of Natural Resources, the Secretary of Commerce and Trade and the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry to convene a committee of interested stakeholders to evaluate long term strategies to ensure the availability of nutrient credits and allocations to accommodate population and economic growth within the framework of nutrient caps established for the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Through Executive Order 57, Governor McAuliffe has called on the Secretary of Natural Resources to develop and recommend concrete steps that the Governor may take under existing state authority to reduce carbon pollution from the power sector. The workgroup consists of members of the Governor’s administration and will receive input from a diverse range of stakeholders, including scientists, energy experts, business leaders, and environmental advocates. The charge is to develop a plan that will both reduce carbon pollution and create more clean energy jobs that will help diversify and grow Virginia’s economy.