STATEMENT: Air Pollution Control Board Fails to Protect Citizens of Union Hill; Governor Northam Tips the Scales

Community Leaders Accuse Dominion Energy of Blatant Environmental Racism Over Controversial Compressor Station for Fracked Gas

RICHMOND, VA — Today, the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board voted 4-0 to approve the “Minor Source Construction Permit” for the gigantic and deeply harmful Atlantic Coast Pipeline compressor station in Buckingham County, Virginia. The proposed 54,000-horsepower compressor station — situated a short distance from the homes of the descendents of freedmen in the community of Union Hill — would run 24 hours a day and constantly fill the community with loud noise that is comparable to a jet engine. Facilities like this pollute the air with nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter and are linked to severe respiratory and cardiovascular ailments, as well as cancer. This compressor station is needed to keep gas flowing through Dominion’s controversial $7-billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
This decision comes after weeks of controversy surrounding the Northam Administration’s actions. After the Board decided to delay its vote for more time to study this harmful project, Governor Northam removed two members of the board from their appointments. These members were critical of this project and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The new appointees were not seated, and one Board member removed himself from the vote due to a conflict of interest. As such, just four of the seven board members voted today.
Harrison Wallace, Virginia Director of CCAN, stated in response:

“Today, Governor Northam officially took ownership of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Buckingham Compressor station, which includes elements of environmental racism. Working with his controversial DEQ on behalf of a deeply controversial fossil fuel company, Northam clearly tipped the scales in favor of approval of this compressor station. Just weeks ago, Northam took the unprecedented step of removing  two board members who appeared to be prepared to vote against it. The governor’s interference sent a clear message to the surviving four board members to vote in favor of Dominion’s proposal. We will never know how the Board would have voted if Northam hadn’t meddled during its decision-making process, but what was clear — to Virginians and to the Board members — was that the governor’s thumb was firmly on the scale in favor of approval.

“His decision to remove two members of the Air Pollution Control Board was a complete reversal from his promise to stay out of the process and will be viewed by historians as a finger on the wrong side of the scale of justice.

“The people of Union Hill and Buckingham County have the right to walk out of their homes and breathe healthy air. This decision will infringe upon that right for a generation. Make no mistake about it: this project is neither a ‘minor’ nor a ‘new’ idea. The mere fact that Dominion has remained set on this community of freedmen as the ideal location of their compressor station should go in the dictionary as the definition of environmental injustice.

“CCAN will be exploring our legal options moving forward. If we listen to the science, the political momentum and the people of Union Hill, there is not one legitimate reason to allow this project to continue.”

More information:

Since the day this project was announced, community advocates in Union Hill have sounded the alarm on environmental justice concerns. Scores of concerned citizens have rallied and protested across the state in opposition of these projects. Hundreds turned up in Buckingham County to give public comment against the project. Thousands more sent written comments to the DEQ which requested the agency deny the permits. Yet no matter how many Virginians said this was a bad idea, Dominion continued pushing for this location.
In November, Dominion Energy announced its intention to spend over $5 million on improvements for Buckingham County if the ACP is completed successfully.  This package is a cynical and transparent attempt by the company to essentially pay off county leaders in exchange for the health and wellbeing of county residents. The Union Hill community is a rural, low-income, mostly African-American community where residents are less likely to have the resources to pursue legal challenges.
This decision comes just weeks after the world’s top scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a dire warning  for the world to move away from dangerous fossil fuels at a rapid pace.
Denise Robbins, Communications Director,, 608-620-8819
Harrison Wallace, Virginia Director,, 804-305-1472


In Stunning Development, Governor Hogan Votes to Reject Permit for “Potomac Pipeline” for Fracked Gas

Hogan joins Board of Public Works in unanimous vote against “right-of-way” easement underneath Western Maryland Rail/Trail

This vote could permanently imperil completion of controversial pipeline

ANNAPOLIS, MD — Today, in what environmentalists hope is a major shift in state energy policy, Governor Larry Hogan voted to reject a permit necessary for a fracked-gas pipeline known as the “Potomac Pipeline.” During the Maryland Board of Public Works’ semi-monthly meeting, Hogan and the other members of the board unanimously rejected a right-of-way easement for the project, which is proposed by a subsidiary of notorious energy company TransCanada.
This decision comes after two years of intense opposition to the pipeline from grassroots groups statewide as well as a growing list of legislators. Hogan announced barely a year ago that he wanted to significantly “kick-start” more consumption of fracked gas in the state, including construction of more pipelines. But Wednesday’s dramatic and surprising vote may signal a change in state policy on this issue.
“For two years, Maryland has been calling on Governor Hogan to keep his promise and protect Marylanders from the harms of fracking,” said Brooke Harper, Maryland Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “Today, he took a step in the right direction by rejecting a permit for a dangerous fracked-gas pipeline proposed by TransCanada. Hopefully, this signals a reversal of the governor’s prior policy of promoting fracked gas consumption and pipelines in Maryland.”
The Board of Public Works, which includes Governor Larry Hogan, State Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot, is responsible for protecting the state’s fiscal integrity. Columbia Gas, which is owned by TransCanada, requires “right-of-way” easement to be approved by the Board. Without it,  TransCanada cannot build underneath Western Maryland Rail/Trail, which runs parallel to the Potomac River.
The decision comes on the heels of a letter signed by 63 Maryland legislators calling on Governor Hogan to reject the easement. “Given that Maryland has banned fracking, it defies our state’s existing energy policy to bring the same public health risks to our residents by way of a pipeline,” the legislators stated.
“Marylanders and many of their leaders have consistently opposed the threats fracked gas pipelines pose to our health, water, climate, and communities,” said Josh Tulkin, Sierra Club Maryland Chapter Director. “There is no right way to build these dirty, dangerous pipelines and today’s unanimous rejection of Potomac Pipeline reflects that. We shouldn’t be deepening our dependence on dirty fuels like coal, oil, and gas at a time when clean, renewable energy is abundant and affordable and the polluting corporations behind these fracked gas pipelines should wake up and realize that.”
In the upcoming General Assembly session, Maryland legislators plan to introduce a bill that will require the Maryland Department of Environment to carry out a comprehensive environmental review of all new fracked-gas pipelines proposed in the state, called the “Pipeline and Water Protection Act.” The Hogan Administration refused to carry out a full review under section 401 of the Clean Water Act for the Potomac Pipeline, deferring instead to the Army Corps of Engineer’s blanket permit.
“With several new pipelines currently under consideration, this is the time for Maryland to improve its process for evaluating the environmental risks of fracked gas infrastructure,” said Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo. “This year I will be introducing legislation to improve the environmental review and oversight of new pipelines proposed in Maryland. Given the environmental concerns, I question why we are continuing to build and invest in climate polluting fossil fuel infrastructure when that time and energy should be spent on renewables.”
“Maryland banned fracking in 2017 because of the threat it posed to public health and our environment,” said Senator Bobby Zirkin. “Fracked-gas infrastructure like the proposed Potomac Pipeline pose the same threat to the Potomac River, which supplies drinking water for our region. The Board of Public Works should keep Maryland frack free and reject the easement for this dangerous fracked gas pipeline. That is why I will be introducing legislation to improve the environmental review and oversight of new pipelines proposed in Maryland.”
Denise Robbins, Communications Director,, 608-620-8819
Brooke Harper, Maryland Policy Director,, 301-992-6875


Faces of RGGI: Why Virginia Needs the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Michelle Cook, Norfolk

Ms. Michelle Cook is a long-time resident of Norfolk, Virginia. She lives with the disastrous effects of flooding in her city right now. One flood was so extreme that it took the city a week for the water to be cleared.

Here’s her story.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) will provide hundreds of millions of dollars to help protect the coasts of cities like Norfolk.

Dr. Samantha Ahdoot, Richmond

Dr. Samantha Ahdoot is a pediatrician with Associates of Alexandria. She sees the harms of air pollution and heat illness in her office every day.
There are two million reasons to join RGGI in Virginia, and that’s the two million children who live in the state. Dr. Ahdoot has patients as young as two years old with asthma, and she’s seeing more of it as the planet warms.
Here’s her story.

Joining RGGI would have tremendous positive effects on the public health of citizens. Less heat waves would mean less heat-related illnesses. And states who have already joined RGGI have prevented over 8,000 asthma attacks.

Karla Loeb, Charlottesville

Karla Loeb is an employee of Sigora Solar, a company based in Charlottesville, Virginia. She comes from Louisiana, a state with one of the largest petrochemical industries in the world. The effects of this speak for itself, as it overlaps with a cancer belt.
That’s why she moved to Virginia, where she’s working to bring energy efficiency to everyone. This effort is sorely needed in Virginia. Dominion is ranked second worst in the country for energy efficiency programs. As Karla explains, Dominion has a financial incentive to NOT support energy efficiency.
Here’s Karla’s story.

As Karla explains, joining RGGI benefit all Virginians by providing millions of dollars of funding for energy efficiency projects, creating jobs and lowering bills.

Dan Marrow, Dumfries

Dan Marrow lives on Possum Point Road, just down the road from a coal power station operated by Dominion Energy.
He was alarmed to discover that Dominion had been dumping millions of gallons of toxic water into nearby Beaver Pond, which is connected to his drinking water well. He soon found that his water was filled with dangerous chemicals and toxins, which have caused severe health problems over the years for Dan and his daughters.
Here’s Dan’s story.

Dan’s case is still in court, but Dominion continues to push for dangerous, polluting practices. His story confirms that we cannot trust Dominion to spend the revenue raised by RGGI wisely.
Now, Virginia has the opportunity to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, (RGGI), which will hold polluters like Dominion accountable for their pollution. This will help countless residents such as Marrow, who suffer under the conditions Dominion has created.

Northam pipeline permit controversy deepens

STATEMENT: Air Pollution Control Board Once Again Delays Vote for Buckingham County Air Permit

Citizen-led Board Signals Need for More Information as Dominion Pipeline Controversy Deepens

RICHMOND, VA — Today, the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board opened a new comment period on the Minor New Source Review Permit for the disastrous Atlantic Coast Pipeline Compressor Station in Buckingham County, Virginia. If built, the 54,000 horsepower proposed compressor station, which would have been situated within a football field’s length of the homes of the descendents of freedmen in the community of Union Hill, would run 24 hours a day and emit sounds comparable to a jet engine. Facilities like this pollute the air with nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter and are linked to severe respiratory and cardiovascular ailments as well as cancer.

This vote is embroiled in controversy with the Northam Administration. After the Board decided in November to delay its vote for more time to allow citizens to weigh in on new information about this harmful project, Governor Northam removed two members of the board from their positions. These members appeared to take an oppositional stance to this project based on the tough questions they were presenting to Dominion at the hearing. The new appointees have not yet been seated, and one Board member has removed himself from the vote due to a conflict of interest. As such, just four of the seven board members have the opportunity to vote on the permit as of now. It is not yet clear if the new Board members will be seated before the final vote.

Harrison Wallace, Virginia Director of CCAN, stated in response:

“We applaud the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board taking the time to fully consider the impacts of this harmful fracked-gas facility and hear the concerns of the people of Virginia. The people of Union Hill and across Buckingham have the right to walk out of their homes and breathe healthy air. The mere fact that Dominion has remained set on this community of freedmen as the ideal location of their compressor station is considered by many people to be the very definition of environmental racism. With all of the facts at hand, we’re confident the Air Board will have no choice but to stand tall in the face of this egregious injustice by rejecting its required permit.

“However, this whole process is tainted by Governor Northam’s apparent attempt to meddle in the regulatory proceedings. The only way the Board can save face at this point is by denying the air permit forthright.  The Air Board must answer the moral call to action that the executive branch ignored by denying the permit for the Buckingham Compressor Station.”

More information:

Since the day this project was announced, community advocates in Union Hill have sounded the alarm on environmental justice concerns. Scores of concerned citizens have rallied and protested across the state in opposition of these projects. Hundreds turned up in Buckingham County to give public comment against the project. Thousands more sent written comments to the DEQ which requested the agency deny the permits. Yet no matter how many Virginians said this was a bad idea, Dominion continued pushing for this location.

In November, Dominion Energy announced its intention to spend over $5 million on improvements for Buckingham County if the ACP is completed successfully.  This package is a cynical and transparent attempt by the company to essentially pay off county leaders in exchange for the health and wellbeing of county residents. The Union Hill community is a rural, low-income, mostly African-American community where residents are less likely to have the resources to pursue legal challenges.

This meeting comes just weeks after the world’s top scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a dire warning  for the world to move away from dangerous fossil fuels at a rapid pace. The meeting also comes after regulators rejected Dominion’s forecast for future energy use. In an Order issued December 7, 2018, the State Corporation Commission (“SCC”) expressed “considerable doubt regarding the accuracy and reasonableness of the Company’s load forecast for use to predict future energy and peak load requirements.”  This load forecast has provided the justification for Dominion Energy’s plans to build the highly controversial, $7-billion ACP. Dominion has argued to regulators that the natural gas pipeline is necessary to meet the commonwealth’s growing demand for power. With the SCC’s rejection of Dominion’s “overstated” load forecasts, this justification completely falls apart.



Virginia Delegates Rasoul, Guzman Launch “Green New Deal” Coalition with Economic, Environmental, Social Justice Groups

Green New Deal seeks most diverse justice coalition in Virginia

ROANOKE, VA – Dels. Sam Rasoul and Elizabeth Guzman are partnering with the Sunrise Movement, NAACP-VSC, Sierra Club-VC, Virginia Organizing, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Food & Water Watch, and a host of intersectional organizations to introduce Green New Deal Virginia. This coalition is breaking down silos around economic, environmental, and social justice issues which impact our Commonwealth and seeks to be the most diverse coalition for justice in Virginia.
“You cannot separate social, economic, and environmental justice issues,” said Delegate Sam Rasoul. “Virginia has the opportunity to make major strides in eliminating poverty and ensuring prosperity in the Commonwealth by creating tens of thousands of good paying jobs in clean energy.”
“Growing up in coastal Virginia, I saw how rising floodwaters tore apart our homes and communities,” said Dyanna Jaye co-founder and Campaign Director, Sunrise Movement. “No one should have to live in fear of losing the people they love or the places they call home. Virginia needs a Green New Deal. We all have a right to clean air, clean water, healthy food, good jobs, and a livable future. We’re encouraged by Representatives Rasoul and Guzman’s leadership and we look forward to working with them to ensure a Green New Deal for Virginia addresses climate change with the ambition demanded by science and justice.”
“The VSC NAACP is proud to be a part of the Green New Deal Virginia. Communities of color historically have had disproportionately less access to jobs and wealth creation opportunities in the energy sector and polluting facilities are far too often sited in communities of color,” said President Kevin Chandler, VSC NAACP. “We are pleased that the plan includes a sharp focus on eliminating poverty in Virginia by promoting large investments in renewable energy, tens of thousands of high paying green jobs, clean air and water and local-scale agriculture.”
“Investments in climate solutions are smart investments in our economy’s future. As we forge a clean energy-based, living economy together, it is our responsibility to avoid duplicating the inequities of the dirty energy past,” said Kate Addleson, Director of the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club. “The Green New Deal Virginia coalition stands for essential principles that align with the Sierra Club’s values, including providing access to affordable clean energy, protection of our clean air and water, and expanding opportunities and rights for workers and working families.”
“Virginia Organizing participates in environmental work, and in efforts like the Green New Deal, because climate change and pollution hurt all of us, especially low-income communities and people of color,” said Del McWhorter, Chairperson, Virginia Organizing State Governing Board. “Our environmental justice aims to stop targeted pollution, of which communities of color all over the Commonwealth always receive far more than their share.”
“We at the CCAN Action Fund are fighting for an equitable energy future where dirty fossil fuels are phased out and Virginia is powered by 100% clean energy. It’s time for the people of Virginia to write the rules, not energy monopolies like Dominion,” said Harrison Wallace, Virginia Director of the CCAN Action Fund.
“Green New Deal Virginia is the type of urgent and powerful clean climate movement our country needs and chief within the mission to stop climate change is deliberate action to transition our states off of fossil fuels,” said Jorge Aguilar, Southern Region Director, Food & Water Watch. “In Virginia, the OFF Act is core to this movement and moment of moral clarity. We’re ready to lead the way to renewable energy once and for all.”
“A Green New Deal gives us the opportunity to build clean, safe, renewable 21st century infrastructure and create tens of thousands of sustainable community jobs now and for future generations.” said Andrea Miller, Executive Director of People Demanding Action.
Policy themes of the Virginia Green New Deal include:

  • A just and equitable100% renewables plan that leaves no workers or communities behind
  • Direct large investments & job-training programs in renewables, building an energy efficient smart-grid, residential and commercial energy efficiency, and more
  • Clean water and air for all Virginians
  • Investments in local-scale agriculture in communities across Virginia
Common Goals:

  • Tens of thousands of high paying green jobs which would require strong enforcement of labor, workplace safety, wage standard, and the right to unionize
  • Investing in and supporting farmers to expand sustainable locally sourced agriculture
  • Transform Virginia towards clean energy self-sufficiency
  • Creating a Commonwealth that provides for an equal opportunity for all communities to have clean air, water, and green energy

The Green New Deal Virginia Coalition will release a legislative agenda closer to the start of 2019 Legislation Session.

Meet a CCANer: Camila Thorndike

Camila is the DC campaign director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and has been at the heart of the movement behind what will soon become the strongest climate bill in the country. She coordinated and led the “DC Climate Coalition,” which is made of more than 110 environmental and justice advocacy organizations, faith groups, unions, consumer advocacy organizations, D.C. businesses, and more. Here’s her story.
What woke you up to the climate crisis?
I was 15 when I first saw the climate “hockey stick” graph. I realized that this skyrocketing arrow of temperature would take place in my life time. All of the big milestones of life that I was looking forward to would be in the context of this big global crisis. It led to the question of whether or not to have kids — which is still a big question for me — where I would put down roots, what my family would do. My mom’s a farmer; will that be still viable in Oregon, where I’m from, when temperatures get so extreme?  
Then I had the great fortune of visiting my extended family — including a bunch of cousins in Australia — after I graduated from high school. For my eighteenth birthday, they gave me this awesome gift of a day snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. But I saw that the reef, even then, was starting to bleach out. That was one of the first realizations that all these forecasts of devastation were already starting, and at a very fast rate.
What impacts of climate change currently hit home to you?
The last two summers, my home in the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon has been suffocated by wildfire smoke. My mom started the first commercial organic cut-flower farm on the West Coast. I grew up there with my little sister. But now, my sister works with her, and they have to wear heavy-duty gas masks, with the level of smoke that sometimes makes southern Oregon look like Beijing. It was like that for eight weeks this summer.
Then the Paradise fires happened, following all the previous years’ fires in California. There was an illusion that if you live in a town or city that you’re going to be safe, but that’s been totally obliterated. Homes and entire cities have been burned to the ground. People escaped down these two-lane roads on foot, or in cars with their kids while the outsides are melting and the glass was too hot to touch. Entire families have burned to death.
Even though I live out in DC and thankfully no fire has come that close to my hometown, they come closer every year, they last longer every year, the number of fires grows every year, and it’s not getting better. I don’t know what that means for how to feel safe. I would love to move back there someday but, frankly, don’t feel great about what the future holds. For the whole West Coast. Wherever there are trees, it’s like a forest of matchsticks that could provide fuel to the fire.
What brought you to CCAN and the campaign in DC?
I was so excited to talk with Mike Tidwell when the vision for passing a carbon fee and rebate in DC was starting to come into focus. It followed my work in Oregon starting what became a national organization called Our Climate which trains young people and students to advocate for strong and effective climate policy, to meet with lawmakers and host creative events to raise awareness and make the issue really fun to participate in.
By the time Mike reached out, we had a partnership with Years Of Living Dangerously that had just taken off with the national Put A Price On It campaign and I felt like the initial chapter getting that off the ground was pretty well complete for me — we had just onboarded this amazing new executive director, Page Atcheson Matilsky, and I realized that my heart is really in campaigning on the ground, being in state capitols, working directly with coalitions and lawmakers to get legislation passed. So I was really excited to take what I had learned about carbon pricing and campaigns and get it done in DC where there is such a smaller body of lawmakers and such a more progressive body of lawmakers than in many places.
How did that morph into what the campaign is today?
We came really close to the introduction of a carbon tax in DC! It was hard because our hopes had been raised very high. The Council Chairman said that a majority of the Council was in favor of our proposal and Councilmember Cheh stated publicly that it was a great policy.
While the carbon tax was never introduced, we created what one of our allies called a “political crisis” that was too good to go to waste. This incredible coalition built intense political pressure. Constituent demand had formed for strong and fair climate policy in DC, creating the opening for Councilmember Mary Cheh and Nicole Rentz — her brilliant staff leader — to put together a package of policies that had already been called for under the Clean Energy DC plan and introduce it thanks to all of the pressure that we generated. We’re grateful for what she has championed since the bill’s introduction in July.
This is a bill that, if it passes in its original form, would cut emissions almost 50 percent in DC and set a lot of precedence in the country. Frankly, we don’t have time to pick our favorite policy. I think we should absolutely all fight for what we think is best and then, only after expending 110% of ourselves and coming up against a real wall should we consider compromise of any sort. And the compromise we ended up with is a real strong one I think we can all be proud of.
How is this campaign different from other environmental campaigns you’ve worked on in the past?
It’s the most harmonious and hardworking coalition that I’ve ever helped build and lead. I credit Justin Wright of Habitus Incorporated with laying the foundation for that ability to collaborate. We brought him in the beginning of the campaign for a carbon tax after the Washington State I-732 debate was brewing. It became really clear you needed to have a really active and thorough stakeholder engagement process to make sure that the policy you put forward is really collaboratively shaped by as many groups in the community as possible. That’s way easier said than done. For a policy as complex and ambitious, and the number of organizations that have an interest in it, turns out having a professional like Justin was essential. That set up great relationships that have made working on this campaign such a joy.
What was your favorite moment in this campaign?
We did so many creative actions around the Wilson Building! If I could pick two actually, the last two were my favorites. The beach volleyball event in front of the Council was really fun to be out there in shorts and lifeguard sweatshirts on a November day, punting a big inflatable earth volleyball around, and then being able to testify before the Council in that sweatshirt and say, “the reason we were all out there is that we’re tired of politicians playing games with our only planet.” I think that CCAN consistently brings that creativity and that fun, which grounds all of this wonky policy-speak back in why we’re doing this and how we’re doing it — makes it possible to make us seem even bigger than we are.
I also loved unfurling the enormous banner of thousands of petitions that had been collected by our coalition and all of our incredible volunteers over the last two and a half years. We went inside the Council building with these boxes, and thanks to Jamie DeMarco at Citizens Climate Lobby and Rebekah Whilden of Sierra Club who have done this before, we strung the petitions together and — even though it wasn’t technically allowed by security — we unfurled it throughout the halls of the first floor of the Wilson building, creating an enormous loop. It just felt like all of the voices of DC residents who so passionately want DC to do the right thing were all represented there. It was a really fun moment to look back and think about all the nights our team has been at ANC meetings, getting resolutions passed, canvassing at farmers’ markets and metro stops, and speaking to classes — this many people were working so hard to build a win, it was cogent proof that people’s voices make a difference.
I don’t think I’ve ever experienced the power of democracy and grassroots power-building exerted onto lawmakers for such a tangible outcome. The link between the action and end results has been very tight on this campaign in a way that I haven’t experienced before.
What was your biggest accomplishment on this campaign?
Persistence. We just never stopped, and that’s what CCAN does also; it’s part of our DNA. And it really matters. I think people give up too soon. Our team and the incredible coalition we’ve been a part of, we didn’t slow our roll. That’s what you have to do if you’re going to force politicians into a corner where they just have to do something.
One word summing up your experience with this campaign:
What do you hope to see happen in the next year after the Clean Energy DC Act passes?
DC should pass a carbon tax ;)
What’s next in the life of Camila?
My fiance and I are going on a month-long meditation retreat where I always find the best tools for building personal resilience and the ability to keep working on climate change and living a joyful, balanced life. I’m really excited about that — I’ve done five- and ten-day retreats before, and they’ve always been more rewarding than they are challenging. And they are challenging.
Who would you high five?
Nicole Rentz — this wouldn’t have happened without her.

Letter from the Director: more good news than you've heard all year

In the next 60 seconds, I’m going to give you more GOOD news on climate change than anyone has given you all year. Ready?
The District of Columbia will soon pass the strongest clean energy legislation in American history! Seriously. It includes a mandate for 100% wind and solar power for the entire DC grid by 2032. Meanwhile, members of Maryland’s General Assembly have now reached “supermajority” status in support of a bill that will convert half of that state’s grid to renewable power within a decade. The bill also creates a pathway to 100% clean power soon after that. And Virginia? The citizens there are beating back — with real success — two major fracked-gas pipelines while pushing Governor Ralph Northam toward a statutory cap on carbon pollution for all dirty power plants.
Whew. Yes, all of that is happening. And the Chesapeake Climate Action Network has been at the CENTER of each one of those campaigns in all three states. Which is why, during this season of giving, we ask you to consider making a generous donation to our proven climate leadership in the states of Maryland, Virginia and DC. Please give. We can’t do it without you. Give now.
And yes, worldwide, the news is bad, bad, bad on global warming. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we have barely ten years to cut the world’s carbon emissions in half. And a Trump Administration report, dumped the day after Thanksgiving, says huge climate impacts are already harming the US economy and public health.
But you – in partnership with CCAN – are part of the solution. We live in a region that includes and encircles the nation’s capital. So when the DC Council passes the “Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act” for 100% clean power, people across America and the world will notice. When Maryland creates tens of thousands of new wind and solar industry jobs by passing the “Clean Energy Jobs Act” – which we predict it will by April – then other states will notice. When the citizens of Virginia fight back against the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, then dirty-energy investors nationwide get the message: We don’t want your stinkin’ pipelines. We want clean energy.
Of all the regions of the world, you and I live in the one that can truly accelerate the clean-energy revolution worldwide in time to save the planet. Thank you for your activism. And thank you for considering a gift to CCAN. Your support gives our region and our fragile planet a fighting chance to survive and to prosper.
Happy holidays,
Mike Tidwell


EPA Improves Public Disclosure Policy Following Lawsuit from Environmental Groups

New EPA-wide policy makes FOIA review process more transparent, equitable, and functional

Washington, D.C. — Following a lawsuit brought by a pair of environmental groups, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has improved its document disclosure policy under federal open records law, the Freedom of Information Act.

See the new memo from the EPA here.

The nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network brought the lawsuit in part to challenge EPA’s previous policy and practice — which was initiated by former administrator Scott Pruitt — of allowing senior staff to delay FOIA production until they reviewed and approved of such disclosures.
The new policy, which was distributed internally to EPA staff on Nov. 16, imposes a maximum three-day limit for these so-called “awareness reviews,” which, the memo clarifies, are only intended to make senior officials aware of select releases before they go out.
The move decreases the politicization of the FOIA process at EPA. Instead of the prior practice of allowing political appointees to make decisions regarding approval, withholding, or release of records, those decisions are now properly the responsibility of EPA’s FOIA team, which is made up of civil servants. The FOIA team must also release records at the end of that three-day period regardless of whether the request has actually been reviewed.
“This new EPA policy is good news.  It makes clear that the agency can’t use political reviews to hold up responses to Freedom of Information Act requests,” said Sanghyun Lee, an attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project.  “Our lawsuit, and several letters from U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, cited evidence that these reviews were being used to block or delay responses to requests from environmental and public health organizations this administration doesn’t like very much.  The new guidance gives the agency’s Chief of Staff and other political managers a three day advance notice before sensitive documents are released, but no power to block those disclosures.”
“Public information should be just that: public,” said Anne Havemann, General Counsel for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, which partnered with EIP on the lawsuit challenging the administration’s information delays.  “Instead, the Trump Administration has been dragging its feet and obstructing legitimate information requests. It’s unfortunate that it took a lawsuit to force EPA to release this information, but we’re glad to see the agency switch gears.”
As a result of this policy change, the groups will drop the policy-related claim in their lawsuit. They are still challenging EPA’s decision to deny their specific FOIA requests. 
Denise Robbins, Communications Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network,, 608-620-8819
Anne Havemann, General Counsel, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 202-997-2466,
Tom Pelton, Environmental Integrity Project, or (202) 888-2703

Watch the Video: Justice for Buckingham County

On November 9, the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board heard testimony about a prposed compressor station in Buckingham County as part of Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Here’s an exchange that was taken from testimony between Air Board member Sam Bleicher and representatives from Dominion.

Less than one week after Bleicher raised concerns, he was dismissed from the Air Board.
Oppose the Buckingham Compressor Project. Call Governor Northam at 804-784-2211. Tell him to stop protecting Dominion and start protecting the people of Union Hill, Virginia.

Key Permit for Mountain Valley Pipeline Suspended

FERC Should Halt All Construction on Project Immediately

Pittsburgh, PA — Late Friday, at the request of a coalition of clean water advocates including the Sierra Club and Appalachian Mountain Advocates, the Pittsburgh District of the Army Corps of Engineers suspended a third permit that the fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) must have in order to build through waterways in Wetzel and Harrison Counties in West Virginia. This action follows MVP’s loss of a stream crossing permit in southern West Virginia in a federal court decision, and the Army Corps’ suspension of MVP’s Virginia stream crossing permit. MVP is required to have Nationwide Permit 12 authorizations from three Army Corps of Engineer districts in order to continue construction; it now has zero. As a result, MVP is now prohibited from any construction in any stream or wetland in its path.

The clean water advocates who brought this challenge are now calling on Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to halt all work on the pipeline, as FERC’s order approving the project requires that all permits be in place for construction to take place anywhere along its 303-mile route.

The action is the result of an October 11, 2018 request to the Corps by attorneys from Appalachian Mountain Advocates on behalf of the Sierra Club, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Indian Creek Watershed Association, New River Conservancy, Appalachian Voices, and Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

In response, Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign Representative Joan Walker released the following statement:

“No matter the area, there is no way to build fracked gas pipelines that doesn’t endanger or water, our communities, or our climate. We’re pleased to see today’s suspension, and demand that FERC immediately halt all construction on the dirty and dangerous Mountain Valley Pipeline. We cannot allow corporate polluters to lock us in to decades more of fossil fuels when clean, renewable energy is available and ready to use now.”

Derek Teaney, Senior Attorney at Appalachian Mountain Advocates, released the following statement:

“The Pittsburgh District did the right thing in granting our request to suspend MVP’s last stream crossing permit. Now the ball is in FERC’s court to put a stop to upland construction. Not only is continued construction unlawful, but it makes no sense–environmentally, financially, or otherwise–to allow MVP to install its pipeline in between streams and wetlands now and just assume that it will ultimately be able to come back later and complete its stream crossings. It is surprising that FERC hasn’t yet put a stop to this illegal, wasteful, and inefficient construction method that MVP is undertaking.”

Anne Havemann, General Counsel at Chesapeake Climate Action Network, released the following statement:

“Friday’s suspension makes clear yet again that the permits hastily given to the fracked-gas Mountain Valley Pipeline don’t stand up to scrutiny. Key permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline have been thrown out again and again, confirming that this pipeline — and the similarly destructive Atlantic Coast Pipeline — is too dangerous to ever be built.

“Despite this, construction for most of this dangerous pipeline continues. FERC must issue a stop-work order on the entire pipeline — to do otherwise is completely unacceptable.”

Howdy Henritz, Indian Creek Watershed Association President, said:

“This is welcome news, but the FERC must now issue a Stop Work Order for all MVP construction activities along its entire route. Muddy water has been spewing into our waterways from upland construction. It is outrageous that FERC has allowed MVP to continue upland construction without having all required permits. The environmental costs borne by landowners today as MVP construction continues unabated is unconscionable. The financial costs to be borne by gas customers in the future will be intolerable.

Angie Rosser, West Virginia Rivers Coalition Executive Director, said:

“FERC must apply the brakes on this project. The unlawful permitting of this project  proves the old adage, ‘haste makes waste’. We simply can’t afford more waste in our streams for the benefit of multi-billion dollar corporations who can shift the financial consequences of its haste ultimately upon its customers.”


About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit
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