VA - Testimony on Roanoke Gas Rate Increase

Thank you to our friend, Freeda Cathcart, for capturing Desiree Shelley's testimony regarding Roanoke Gas' rate increase proposal and its potential impact on our communities. You can watch it below! We've included the text below as well.



Roanoke Gas Rate Increase Testimony by Desiree Shelley, Mothers Out Front Climate Justice Organizer

My name is Desiree Shelley, I am the Mothers Out Front Climate Justice Organizer for Roanoke Virginia’s Frontline Program. I am a mother of 2 daughters. I was brought to the climate justice movement out of fear for my children’s future in the face of so many climate threats, many of which are already impacting communities. 

Our frontline program in Roanoke, specifically aims to mobilize and uplift the voices of mothers from frontline communities. These are marginalized communities (often communities of color, underserved or low-income) that will disproportionately experience the effects of climate change first and lack the financial support or infrastructure to deal with it. These communities are already dealing with impacts to public health from polluted air resulting in higher rates of asthma in urban areas, to increased flooding and water pollution from storm-water and sea-level rise, to damage to their homes and local infrastructure from stronger more frequent storms and lastly financial burdens from the expensive costs of these impacts and our economy’s reliance on fossil fuels. The cost of sustaining the fossil fuel industry is often passed from corporations to its customers, who lack the option to switch to an alternative. 

What brings us here today is the Roanoke Gas Company’s rate increase. This is a straight-forward example of climate injustice on marginalized communities. This 10.6% rate increase was implemented in January of this year to help fund an unnecessary fracked gas pipeline, at a time when Roanoke families needed extra gas to heat their homes. This extra financial burden was placed on many low-income communities and communities of color in Roanoke that have and will also deal with other frontline climate crisis issues. Some of these families already struggle to put healthy food on the table, to afford needed clothing or other basic necessities. Many of these families are also financially unable to invest in the upfront costs of energy efficiency installations in their homes to offset this rate increase. No family should have to pay for a corporation’s poor and unnecessary investment in fossil fuels when we have other more affordable gas options and the power to begin transitioning to renewable energy sources. 

Mothers Out Front is building a grassroots movement of Mothers, Grandmothers, Caregivers and others to make the climate crisis an issue that our leaders can no longer ignore. We are not your typical environmental activists as we are driven by our desire to ensure a livable climate for our children by advocating for a swift, complete and just transition away from fossil fuels toward clean and renewable energy. 

At Mothers Out Front, we are looking for mothers concerned about these local climate justice issues, whether it be a financial concern, your child’s health and exposure to pollution or infrastructure damages to your community. We urge mothers to join our movement by attending an event or becoming a part of a community team and of course providing a comment to SCC today opposing the Roanoke Gas rate increase. We at MOF are not just identifying climate change as a problem and educating about it. That’s been done. The climate crisis is already here and many of our communities that are contributing the least to this crisis are experiencing the worst of its impacts. So we are here to mobilize mothers and present a new voice for mothers and children of frontline communities to our leaders and decision makers to bring about change that will directly benefit our communities here in Roanoke and Southwest Virginia. Thank you


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