As the South experiences extreme heat and increased flooding, there is no question we are at a critical time for our environmental future. We have the opportunity to protect our remarkable natural resources and to help turn the tide on climate change. SELC was built for this.
Rooted in the South, we use strong legal and policy work, strategic vision, and pragmatic problem solving in all three branches and at all levels of government. When one door is closed, we find another way. With our commitment to place, SELC is building on nearly 40 years of success in Virginia and five other Southern states and driving results that resonate across the nation. That’s why we say, “Solutions Start in the South.”
Now is the time to act. Join us.
Tackling the causes of climate change
SELC played a central role in helping Virginia pass historic legislation taking on greenhouse gas pollution from both tailpipes and the power sector. As we work to ensure cost-effective implementation for all Virginians, we are defending these laws on multiple fronts. At the 2023 General Assembly, SELC, our clients, and an array of allies blocked seven bills to repeal or undermine Virginia’s adoption of the Clean Cars standards, the largest single step the Commonwealth has taken to reduce greenhouse gas pollution; we blocked a bill to repeal Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative; and we blocked or significantly limited damage from 20 bills seeking to undermine the Virginia Clean Economy Act.
We also saw major progress towards clean, fair energy. SELC and partners helped pass legislation restoring state regulators’ authority to set just and reasonable electricity rates for utility customers. We spent several years building bipartisan support for this rate reform, which should limit the unfair burden of energy costs on low-wealth customers and expand public support for the Commonwealth’s clean energy policies. On another front, SELC and partners are strongly opposing Gov. Youngkin’s unlawful attempt to circumvent the legislature and withdraw Virginia from RGGI.
Reining in gas power
SELC’s team that stopped the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is now focused on blocking the rush to expand “natural gas” across the South. Because methane is a potent greenhouse gas, these new commitments to fossil fuels could drag us backwards. Our Charlottesville office is leading this regional work. Despite Virginia’s new clean energy laws, companies are still seeking to profit and leave customers holding the bill by building destructive gas pipelines and facilities that are unnecessary and already obsolete. SELC is working to stop these unneeded gas proposals, and we are chalking up victories. We recently helped local partners derail two power plants planned for Charles City County. Like most fossil fuel infrastructure, these plants would have been located near communities of color already bearing an unfair burden of industrial pollution.
Solutions start in Virginia.
Hear from Sarah Francisco, SELC’s Virginia Office Director, on the importance of stopping the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
Strengthening coastal resilience
Coastal communities are feeling the effects of climate change, and Hampton Roads has one of the highest rates of sea level rise on the East Coast. SELC is promoting the conservation of vulnerable natural areas along the coast while advocating for better solutions to destructive projects, like the proposed extension of the Nimmo Parkway across Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge near Virginia Beach. We are also ensuring that statewide planning and funding for flood resilience projects prioritize the preservation of wetlands and other natural resources and assist all Virginians equitably.
Holding Washington accountable on clean water protections
For years, SELC stood strong against an unprecedented assault on our nation’s core clean water protections. We limited the damage of these rollbacks through a strategic campaign combining SELC’s Clean Water Act expertise with our partner network and stories of real people
across the South, for whom clean water is a necessity. We are now helping to defend EPA’s restoration of long-standing protections and preparing to respond when the U.S. Supreme Court decides a key Clean Water Act case this summer.
Keeping chemicals out of Virginia’s water
SELC is also tackling threats to clean water on the ground. As neighboring states deal with contamination of major watersheds with cancer-causing industrial chemicals like PFAS, SELC is pressing Virginia officials to conduct more sampling to better understand the scope of the problem and to get ahead of it by taking action to protect drinking water and stop this pollution at its source. We are also building on past success and strong partnerships to defend our state’s waters from the renewed threat of gold mining, which has a record of polluting rivers and groundwater with toxic wastewater and acid mine drainage.
Solutions for a healthy environment start in Virginia. Your support helps make our wins possible.
Fighting for environmental justice
SELC is working alongside local partners to help ensure just environmental outcomes for Virginia’s communities. For example, we secured back-to-back victories on environmental justice grounds against pipeline compressor stations—a landmark Fourth Circuit ruling in 2020 tossing out an air pollution permit for an Atlantic Coast Pipeline compressor in Buckingham County; then, an historic win when the Virginia Air Board in 2021 denied a permit for a Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate compressor in Pittsylvania County, citing the Buckingham decision as precedent. When the pipeline developer challenged the Air Board’s historic decision, we intervened in the case on behalf of the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP. Though the developer withdrew its challenge, we remain vigilant.
Protecting Virginia’s national forests
Since day one, keeping our Southern Appalachian national forests wild and beautiful has been a top SELC priority. For nearly four decades, we have worked at every level—from stopping egregious clearcutting to upholding critical federal standards—to defend the most remote, unspoiled places. Today we are working with partners to champion permanent protections for the heart of the George Washington National Forest on Shenandoah Mountain, while pushing forward in our challenge of unprecedented Trump-era rules that would take public voices out of decisions regarding public lands.