During the rally, activists demanded all Virginians have clean water, clean air, and accessible clean energy. Del. Mark Keam (D-Fairfax) and Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) spoke at the event.
Several representatives spoke in support of the environment at the event. Residents from across the state appealed to Virginia state legislators to prevent loopholes for the oil and gas industry that could threaten air and water quality, to transition the Commonwealth to a sustainable renewable energy based economy, and to expand access to renewable energy.
“Virginians are counting on their legislators to protect their health and our Commonwealth’s natural resources by requiring the disclosure of fracking chemicals and expanding Virginia’s solar industry,” Delegate Rip Sullivan (D-Arlington) said.
“As a pediatrician, I represent the two million children who live in our state,” Dr. Samantha Ahdoot M.D., Executive Committee Member of the Academy of the Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Environmental Health Executive Committee, said. “Each and every one of them deserves clean air that is not fouled by chemicals from coal combustion, clean water that is not contaminated by undisclosed fracking chemicals, and green fields that are free of leaked pipeline gas. By transitioning away from dirty fuels to clean energy like solar, we protect our children’s health, their happiness, and their future.”
Advocates from throughout the state were represented at the rally.
“There should be no loopholes for dirty fuels like oil and gas,” Dean Naujoks, Riverkeeper at the Potomac Riverkeeper Network, said. “All Virginians deserve clean drinking water. This vital resource must be protected from contamination by dirty fuels like fracked gas.”
During 2015, the most recent data available from the Solar Energy Industries Association, Virginia installed 10 MW of solar electricity while North Carolina installed 1140 MW.
“Secure Futures is pushing this legislative session to expand access to solar by reducing barriers for organizations, like schools and hospitals, that couldn’t otherwise afford the upfront cost,” Amory Fischer, Business Development Coordinator at Secure Futures Solar, said. “Solar is a resilient solution to the climate crisis that can build energy security, reduce carbon emissions, create full-time jobs and has strong support in Virginia, regardless of political ideology.”
Adoption of new energy sources is supported by many legislators.
“Everybody agrees that we need to diversify our sources of energy,” Delegate Betsy Carr (D-Richmond) said. “I think that it is important that we continue to support solar as one alternative to fossil fuels.”
The rally was sponsored by the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, Earthworks, Food and Water Watch, and Virginia Interfaith Power & Light and was held in conjunction with Conservation Lobby Day, which is organized by Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) annually to ensure a strong, unified environmental voice is heard early in the legislative session.
Volunteer advocates from across Virginia joined professional staff of VCN Network Partners to meet with state legislators and encourage them to support environmental policy advancements.