Mothers Out Front Virginia stands in strong opposition to the expected appointment by Governor-elect Glen Youngkin of Andrew Wheeler as Virginia Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources. At Mothers Out Front VA, we are committed to continuing the fight against the expansion of extractive fossil fuel infrastructure including dirty fracked gas pipelines like the Mountain Valley Pipeline which would cause the emissions equivalent of 26 new coal power plants. Fracked gas already accounts for 61% of Virginia’s utility-scale electricity while renewable energy supplies only 6% (according to EIA). Youngkin stated in a tweet that “[climate change] poses a real challenge in Virginia”. Over the next 4 years we must focus on equitable and innovative policy to address this challenge by dramatically decreasing our reliance on dirty fuels with a just transition to clean energy that prioritizes the health and well-being of children and communities over the profits of corporations. We feel that the appointment of Wheeler, whose credentials include a former attorney and lobbyist for the coal industry and a multitude of harmful Trump-era rollbacks while serving as US EPA Administrator, will not only prevent Virginia from taking the dire and bold action needed to combat the climate crisis but will also undo the progress we have made in recent years to protect our air, water and climate health. Mothers Out Front leaders have fought tirelessly to protect Virginia’s waterways from pollution including raw sewage discharges into the James River and erosion and sediment pollution from Mountain Valley Pipeline that threatens drinking water quality, aquatic life and endangered species while Wheeler has a record of doing the opposite at the national level by allowing big corporations to pollute our air and water.
We are calling on our elected officials to oppose this appalling appointment that could have detrimental impacts on environmental and climate policy in VA and nationally by putting our environment and climate future into the hands of someone that has a history of weakening environmental protections and has stated that the climate crisis isn’t an “existential threat”. Virginia’s families and communities deserve to be protected and deserve a better appointment to such a crucial position.