Senate Passes McClellan Bill to Ensure Consultation with Tribal Nations on Environmental and Historic Preservation Permits

Bill Will Codify  Recent Executive Order, Affirming Virginia’s Commitment to Government-to-Government Relationship with Tribal Nations

RICHMOND, VA – Today, the Virginia Senate unanimously passed Sen. Jennifer McClellan’s (D-Richmond) bill (SB 482) directing state-permitting agencies to consult Tribal Nations when evaluating state permit applications for activities that could affect environmental, historic and cultural resources. 

McClellan’s bill codifies former Gov. Ralph Northam’s Executive Order 82 issued in November and backed by a bipartisan coalition. The bill will ensure time for government agencies to hear meaningful input from Tribal Nations about environmental or cultural concerns regarding proposed projects in the state early in the approval process. 

“This bill will strengthen Virginia’s government-to-government relationship with Tribal Nations,” Sen. McClellan said. “This will empower Tribal Nations to honor their traditions, preserve their history and use lands and waters for their livelihoods. I’m proud to have worked with Virginia’s Tribal leaders to pass this bipartisan legislation in the Senate.”

The bill will require that the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Department of Historic Resources, and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission implement effective policies and procedures for working with Tribal Nations in Virginia to evaluate permits and their potential effects on environmental, cultural, or historic resources. The bill also directs the Secretary of the Commonwealth appoints an Ombudsman for Tribal Consultation to facilitate consultation with Tribal Nations. 

“The bipartisan Senate vote on SB 482 is a historic event for Virginia’s Sovereign Nations,” said Chickahominy Tribal Chief Stephen R. Adkins. “The bill confirms the sovereign relationship established by the Treaty of 1677 between the Tribes and what is now the Virginia General Assembly. Thank you to Sen. McClellan and the Senate for advancing this critical bill to protect our Tribal economy, heritage and treasured lands and waters. I look forward to working with the House and the Youngkin administration to pass this into law.”

Delegate Paul E. Krizek (D-Fairfax) sponsored the House companion.