In the first major test of Virginia’s historic environmental justice law, the state’s air board Dec. 3 approved a U.S. Navy proposal to build a power plant near a predominately Black community with higher-than-normal rates of respiratory illnesses.

Environmental and health advocates were dismayed by the State Air Pollution Control Board’s 5–1 decision, saying it shows that the state still hasn’t fully embraced equity and justice at the regulatory level. Board members, meanwhile, pointed out that the Navy plans to install technologies that will ensure the plant produces few emissions.

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Photo credit: Don S. Montgomery, USN (Ret.)