Gov. Ralph Northam addresses inequality and the environment in speech

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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ7) Gov. Ralph Northam spoke to the Environment Virginia Symposium at VMI Wednesday morning. While Gov. Northam spent the majority of his speech talking about a number of his administration’s efforts on the environment, at the end, the question of environmental justice came up.

“The environment belongs to all of us," he told the crowd in the auditorium. "It is our birthright as Virginians and Americans, no matter the color of our skin or the size of our pocketbooks. We will continue to work to ensure that our environmental policy ensures equal opportunity and protection for all Virginians.”

Speaking afterwards, he said it is something that is on his mind in light of the recent controversy.

“Having the events of the last several weeks, it has opened my eyes," Northam explained. "I have listened to a lot of people, I’ve learned a lot, I still have a lot to learn. But one of the areas that I think that my administration can really focus on with this level of awareness is inequities that exist in Virginia.”

Inequities that concern Dawone Robinson of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“There are a wealth of issues that the governor can surely tackle here in Virginia," Robinson said. "And we hope to elevate some of those.”

He listened as the governor spoke, and heard progress, but would like to see more.

“Progress I think is policy change in action," he said. "What I heard from the governor today, I had hoped to hear more substantive change in the governor’s policies.”

Although, the governor says, the big change may be on his administration’s focus.

“We are refocused, and you know I have three years left in my term, and I’m going to do everything that I can with my administration to address these inequities," Northam told reporters.