By Claire Theriot
Supervisor Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian) introduced four members of the county’s new Environmental Commission and the panel’s goals during a recent Facebook town hall meeting.
During the June 22 session, Briskman said Loudoun has committed to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ 2030 Climate Energy and Action Plan, and that the overarching objective of the Environmental Commission is to help keep up their side of this plan at the local level. Briskman said they’ll need to be “identifying issues and proposing recommendations to protect, preserve, conserve, and enhance the environment; advancing environmental justice policies to ensure equity across all populations, especially minority low-income and historically underserved communities; and acting on priority initiatives identified in the Loudoun County comprehensive plan and the boards strategic plan.”
Supervisor Michael R. Turner (D-Ashburn) was said this Environmental Commission was different from other of the board’s advisory panels in that it was not set from political connections, but instead consisted of subject matter experts in their fields related to the commission’s objectives. He added that he was pleased to see the group of 15 experts come together to explore renewable energy sources in the county and present their ideas to the board.
“I am fairly confident the Environmental Commission make-up and the tasking that we got so far more than meets the requirements of the comprehensive plan,” which would pave the way for a new energy strategy to take place in the county, Turner said.
Marc Aveni, assistant director of the county’s Department of General Services, said some of the topics the committee will have to handle will be difficult, such as greenbanks, community choice, energy policies, and regulations for data centers. He said they would need to focus and dive into some of these complex issues.
Commission member Scott Emery agreed, saying he thought they should focus and set goals to establish a clear framework for their recommendations related to the environment. He also said reducing carbon emissions was the key, and emphasized clean energy sources can help achieve that goal.
Commission member Chris Tandy highlighted Briskman’s statement about environmental justice.
“We need to know where underrepresented communities are in relation to pollution sources,” he said. “We need to know how they might have compounding disadvantages and be prepared for some unfortunate outcomes that we’re going to have as temperatures increase.”
Tandy has been a member of the Loudoun NAACP since 2017 and is co-founder and a board member of the People Power of Virginia, a political action committee that supports candidates to stop major fossil field projects. He said these skills would be a helpful contribution to the committee.
Tandy concluded the meeting by stating that as the committee sets its goals and prepares its work for today that it will “need to be looking at the impact on the future.”