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Black voters in battleground states are a crucial voting bloc in 2024; Nikki Haley says she's voting for Trump in November; healthcare advocates suggest medical collaboration to treat fibroids; distinct vibes at IU Indianapolis pro-Palestinian protest.

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The House GOP moves to strike mention of Trump's criminal trial from the record, and his former rival Nikki Haley endorses him. Meanwhile, Ohio Republicans reject a legislative fix to ensure Biden's name appears on the November ballot.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

VA groups angry over Youngkin’s Environmental Justice Council picks

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Friday, April 5, 2024   

Environmental organizations in Virginia have united in opposition to Gov. Glenn Youngkin's picks for the state Environmental Justice Council.

In the last two years, the council has been short several members, unable to reach a quorum or conduct official votes. But critics point out that most of the new appointees have strong ties to the fossil-fuel industries that cause environmental harm.

Tim Cywinski, communications director for the Sierra Club's Virginia chapter, said there's no upside to the new appointments.

"People who are tied to the fossil-fuel industry are not going to be helpful in initiatives that are meant to reduce pollution and improve public health, to make sure that people aren't affected by toxic air from polluting projects, toxic water from polluting projects," he said.

The groups also have said new appointees don't meet certain background requirements to be on the council. They've signed a letter asking the General Assembly to reject the appointees. Instead, Cywinski suggested, Youngkin should appoint the people whose terms expired. He noted that their backgrounds are better suited to recognizing the social and environmental challenges facing some communities.

Projects are already underway in areas sensitive to environmental issues. In Petersburg, a methane pipeline extension and compressor station are being proposed despite the concerns listed in an Environmental Impact Statement. Petersburg already ranks as the "least healthy" place in Virginia.

Cywinski said it's distressing Youngkin hasn't taken up policies protecting these areas.

"I wish we didn't have to have environmental-justice projects," he said. "I wish there was more humanity in the development and planning of energy plants or power plants, or infrastructure projects - but there are not."

Pipeline projects can cause damage to surrounding forests, which means losing valuable water and air filtration. In addition, methane leaks are already common. Based on current environmental impacts, Petersburg residents have a lifespan about a decade lower than the national average.

Disclosure: Sierra Club contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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