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Student Activists Turn Out In Support Of Green New Deal

Several young activists wearing Sunrise Movement t-shirts hold yellow signs supporting a Green New Deal for Virginia.
Advocates wait outside the General Assembly to speak to legislators about the Green New Deal Act. (Alexander Broening/VPM News)

VPM Interns Patrick Larsen and Alexander Broening contributed to this reporting.

Environmental advocates with nonprofit Sunrise Virginia came to the state Capitol Monday to tell lawmakers why they support the Green New Deal Act.

The advocates spoke with House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D - Fairfax), Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, and representatives from some of their own districts.

The group is made up largely of high schoolers, including Bela Williams from Blacksburg. He says that he thinks corporate interests have stalled progress on environmental issues.

“Our government has really been essentially bought out by the industry, such as the coal industry,” Williams said.

Williams says he likes that the bill would stop new fossil fuel projects as early as next year - which he says is necessary to stop the worst impacts of climate change.

“That’s very important,” Williams said, “because every new pipeline, every new fossil fuel refinery that we build - we’re locking that in for the future.”

The act, which is sponsored by Del. Sam Rasoul (D - Roanoke), would also require energy retailers to only sell energy from renewable sources by 2036. It puts an emphasis on environmental justice for populations most affected by climate change, and job transitions for workers in the fossil fuel industry. It’s one of a few bills this year that challenge Dominion Energy’s power in Virginia’s legislature.