Da’Quan Love, Executive Director
RICHMOND – Today the Virginia State Conference NAACP (Virginia NAACP) outlined its grave concerns with the appointment of Mr. Andrew Wheeler to serve as Virginia’s next Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources and vowed its adamant opposition to his confirmation by the Virginia General Assembly.
Virginia NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Chairman Karen Campblin said:
“During Mr. Wheeler’s career, serving as a lobbyist in the fossil fuel/coal industry and most recently the US EPA Administrator, he led many efforts to weaken environmental protections, lower emission standards, and allow pollutants to contaminate resources unchecked and unmitigated. It is imperative that the next Secretary has a strong commitment to prioritize the health and wellness of all Virginians, particularly our vulnerable populations.”
Virginia NAACP President Robert N. Barnette, Jr. said:
“We demand Governor Youngkin immediately rescind the nomination of Mr. Andrew Wheeler and urge all legislators to block Mr. Wheeler’s confirmation.”
The Virginia NAACP urges Governor Youngkin to re-evaluate Mr. Wheeler’s qualifications as well as, other appointments to make sure the potential candidate will carry out the duties of the position fairly, equitably, and without political agenda or reprisal. Governor Youngkin’s administration must set a high standard and demand nothing less than putting all peoples of the Commonwealth first.
The role of the Secretary is to advance Virginia’s environmental and conservation policies, protect, and restore our natural and historic resources, and oversee all-natural and historic state agencies.
The NAACP in collaboration with the Clean Air Task Force, published Fumes Across the Fenceline, a seminal report which analyzed the health impacts on Black communities located adjacent to fossil fuel facilities.
The report stated Blacks are exposed to 38% more polluted air than their white counterparts and are 75% more likely to live in a Fenceline community. Fenceline communities are typically Black, communities of color, and low wealth communities located adjacent to hazardous facilities and are directly affected by the facility’s operations (i.e. noise, fumes, emissions, odor, traffic, etc.). These communities are overburdened by the effects of pollution and experience higher rates of asthma, cancers, upper respiratory illnesses, and other diseases.
While this is not the only cabinet head nomination of concern the Virginia NAACP, Mr. Wheeler’s nomination resulted in an unprecedented, unanimous vote of no confidence by the Virginia NAACP Executive Committee comprised of NAACP leaders across the Commonwealth.