STATEMENT: Victory on Buckingham Compressor Station for Fracked Gas

RICHMOND, VA — Today, the court threw out a key permit for the 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. 

Harrison Wallace, Virginia Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, stated in response

“Today, justice prevailed. Dominion Energy has acted as if it were above the law for too long. It wanted to trample over the rights of Virginia residents and pollute a historic community, all for a dangerous pipeline that we don’t even need. 

“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. Yet Virginia officials have been putting their thumb on the scale in favor of its approval from the beginning. 

“The court found that the State Air Pollution Control Board failed to determine ‘whether this facility is suitable for this site,’ in light of environmental justice concerns and potential health risks for the people of Union Hill. The court also determined that Air Board needed to consider using electric motors at the compressor station in place of gas-fired turbines, or at least provide an explanation of why it didn’t consider this alternative, as electric motors would eliminate almost all of the on-site air pollution from the compressor station. The court sent the permit back to the Air Board to fix the identified issues with the permit. 

“Today’s decision will be viewed by historians as a finger on the right 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. We are glad to see that right upheld. 

“Now, CCAN will be fighting to make sure this compressor station is never built. 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 this project. Hundreds turned up in Buckingham County to give public comment against the project. Thousands more sent written comments to the Air Board to request the board  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. 

CONTACT:
Denise Robbins, Communications Director, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 240-630-1889
Harrison Wallace, Virginia Director, harrison@chesapeakeclimate.org, 804-305-1472

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The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 17 years, CCAN has been at the center of the

Hogan climate plan under fire from 25 prominent groups

Two Dozen Organizations Deliver Letter Criticizing Governor Hogan’s Draft Climate Plan

Maryland Has “Responsibility to Lead with More Aggressive Pollution Reduction Plans,” Groups Say

ANNAPOLIS, MD — Today, a group of 25 prominent advocacy and community organizations delivered a letter to Governor Larry Hogan and the Maryland Department of Environment calling for a drastic improvement to the state’s draft climate plan. The groups expressed that the Maryland Dept. of the Environment (MDE) is “failing to respond to the urgency of the climate crisis.”

The letter is signed by a wide array of organizations, including large environmental groups like Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 350.org, Sierra Club, and Maryland League of Conservation Voters; faith organizations like Interfaith Power & Light and Unitarian Universalist Legislative Committee of Maryland; student-led movements like Sunrise Movement Howard County  and community organizations like EcoLatinos, Maryland Legislative Coalition, and League of Women Voters of Maryland, to name a few. The letter states:

“Unfortunately, the plan fails to put us on track to meet mid-century targets identified by the world’s leading climate scientists as necessary to avoid the worst of climate disruption, and provides no clear policy specifics on how to achieve goals. As an example, the proposed ‘Clean and Renewable Energy Standard’ (CARES) is very thin on details, has been developed with minimal public input, and continues to rely on the burning of fossil fuels which are neither clean nor renewable.”

CLICK HERE TO READ THE LETTER IN FULL

The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act of 2016 — which was passed by an overwhelming majority in the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan —  requires MDE to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 2006 levels by 2030, and for MDE to develop this plan by the end of 2018. In October of 2019, Gov. Hogan’s Department of Environment finally released its draft plan — nearly ten months after it was due. This came two weeks after 26 advocacy organizations sent a letter to the agency expressing “deep concern” that they had not yet released its legally mandated plan.

Today’s letter follows a recent policy review which found that Gov. Hogan’s draft Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan is critically flawed and falls far short of what is needed to address the climate crisis.

That review, authored by the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS), found that Maryland’s current greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets are weak compared to other states and inadequate for meeting critical international benchmarks for averting the climate crisis. CCS has extensive experience previously working on climate policy with the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE), the same agency now responsible for the Hogan Administration’s flawed Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan.

The CCS report found that the MDE plan uses “unrealistic assumptions on widespread electric vehicle adoption, dubious claims that highway widening will result in fewer emissions” and “MDE does not account for methane leakage in inventories or future scenarios, even as the Hogan Administration is supporting an expansion of fracked-gas infrastructure.” See the full report at this link.

In the letter released today, the coalition of advocacy groups called for a stronger plan that “looks at the entirety of the greenhouse gas problems our state is experiencing from every major source—not just energy usage.”

“We must address energy production, transportation, agriculture, and housing as well as reduction strategies such as forestation and sequestration,” they added.

The letter was signed by the following groups: 1199SEIU; 350.org; Central Maryland Transportation Alliance; Chesapeake Climate Action Network; Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility; Climate Law & Policy Project; Climate XChange; DoTheMostGood Montgomery County; EcoLatinos, Inc.; Environment Maryland; Frack-Free Frostburg; Greenbelt Climate Action Network; Howard County Climate Action; Indivisible Howard County; Institute for Energy and Environmental Research; Interfaith Power and Light (DC.MD.NoVA); League of Women Voters of Maryland; Maryland Legislative Coalition; Maryland League of Conservation Voters; Sierra Club; Sunrise Movement Howard County; Takoma Park Mobilization Environment Committee; Towson Unitarian Universalist Church Green Sanctuary Committee; Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland; and Waterkeepers Chesapeake.

MDE is now soliciting public comment on its draft Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Plan through a series of community forums across the state.

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The Maryland Climate Coalition brings together environmental, faith, health, labor, and civic organizations to advance clean energy and climate policies in Maryland. For more information about the Maryland Climate Coalition, visit: http://marylandclimatecoalition.org.

Meet a CCANer: Paolo Mutia

Paolo is the Central Virginia Organizer at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Here’s his story.

Tell us a little bit about yourself! 

I was born in the Philippines, but Richmond has helped me to become the person I am today. I learned at a young age what it meant to be poor in America and how racial and socioeconomic disparities affected the lives of youth in my neighborhood. Growing up in America, I constantly hear about the disastrous effects of climate change miles across the ocean in my home country, the Philippines. I hear about the fear of typhoons coming for my friends and family back at home. At a young age, I learned and realized the systemic privileges that I had based on being Asian, the color of my skin, my immigration status, and the privilege I hold by living in America. 

What impacts of climate change currently hit home to you?

Growing up in the Philippines, I didn’t really know what the word “climate change” meant back then, all I knew was that sometimes I would wake up and go downstairs to see my home completely flooded sometimes. And for my family that was normal. It was reality we faced on a daily basis. Whenever I see flooded communities broadcasted on the news I am always taken back to my childhood home in the Philippines. 

What has inspired you most working with CCAN? 

CCAN is an organization that understands that the climate crisis is a human issue. It’s exciting to be a part of an organization that acknowledges the layers of injustice and systemic racism that have led us to this point. The work CCAN has done to advocate and empower frontline communities to be hit first and the worst by climate change has inspired me to keep pushing in our environmental movement. We continue to grow to be a more diverse and powerful voice. 

What have you contributed to bringing about a clean energy revolution that you are most proud of? 

When I was little I remember growing up in an old house over at the east end of Richmond. There were times where the energy bills trumped the rent cost, times where we would have no heat in the winter. By sharing my story to people, I am able to help bring to light the energy burden issue in Virginia that needs to be taken into account in the clean energy revolution. 

What do you hope to see happen in terms of climate in the next year?

I hope that the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Bill will pass in Virginia with many of the equity measures still in place to protect frontline communities impacted by climate change. 

What do you like to do when you’re not working on climate change?

I love to cook with my friends, collect recipes from everyone I meet, and play with my Goldendoodle, Kai. 

Who would you high five?

Saul Alinsky, the father of community organizing. I recommend you read his book “Rules for Radicals.”

BREAKING: Hogan climate plan deeply flawed, experts say

New Research: Experts Find Critical Flaws in Hogan’s Climate Plan

During a phone-based news briefing, economic and climate policy experts released new research detailing failings in Hogan Administration’s Draft Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan

ANNAPOLIS, MD — According to new findings released today, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s draft Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan is critically flawed and falls far short of what is needed to address the climate crisis.

See the full report at this link.

A recording of the telephone press call will be made available by request.

The review was authored by the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS), an independent non-profit that assists governments across the U.S. and around the world to develop climate action plans. CCS has extensive experience previously working on climate policy with the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE), the same agency now responsible for the Hogan Administration’s flawed Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan.

“This policy review, written by MDE’s own former consultants, clearly shows that Maryland’s climate goals are insufficient for doing our part in addressing the climate crisis,” said Steven Hershkowitz, Maryland Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “Making matters worse, we now know Maryland’s climate action plan likely does not put us in the position to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030, let alone the 60 percent reduction called for by leading climate scientists. With President Trump sabotaging national climate actions, it’s up to the states to act — but under the Hogan Administration’s plan, Maryland is setting the entire climate movement back.”  

The findings include that:

  • Maryland’s current greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets are weak compared to other states and inadequate for meeting critical international benchmarks for averting the climate crisis.
  • Due to overly optimistic assumptions and flawed methodology, MDE’s draft plan is unlikely to result in meeting even these weak emissions reduction targets.
  • The plan is especially flawed when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the transportation sector, due to unrealistic assumptions on widespread electric vehicle adoption, dubious claims that highway widening will result in fewer emissions, and a lack of proposed strategies for reducing car travel demand.
  • MDE does not account for methane leakage in inventories or future scenarios, even as the Hogan Administration is supporting an expansion of fracked-gas infrastructure.
  • Inconsistent calculations for the emissions inventory between 2014 and 2017 call into question the accuracy of MDE’s data. See the full report at this link.

“As some of the world’s largest emitters, US states must do their fair share to stabilize the climate. As a high emitter with a strong economy and great foundation from past climate action, Maryland can demonstrate national leadership,” said Thomas D. Peterson, President and CEO of the Center for Climate Strategies. “Key areas needing improvement in Maryland’s Draft Plan include action on targets, transportation, and energy issues. Better transparency and stakeholder involvement in planning decisions are also needed.”

“The administration’s current emissions reduction commitments do not reflect the scale of the climate crisis and its impacts on our state,” said Wandra Ashley-Williams, Maryland Regional Director of ClimateXChange. “Without the level of ambition required to  tackle this crisis, we will  also miss out on the opportunity to uplift communities through a broader transition.”

The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act of 2016 — which was passed by super majorities in the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan —  requires MDE to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 2006 levels by 2030, and for MDE to develop this plan by the end of 2018. In October of this year, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s Department of Environment released its legally mandated draft draft plan. This came two weeks after 26 Maryland-based advocacy organizations sent a letter to the agency expressing “deep concern” that they had not yet released the plan nearly ten months after it was due.

MDE is now soliciting public comment on its draft Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Plan through a series of community forums across the state.

About the Center for Climate Strategies

The Center for Climate Strategies (CCS) helps government and stakeholders work together to develop policy and program actions that achieve goals for climate stabilization and resilience, economic development and private investment, energy and resource security, health and environmental quality, and socioeconomic equity. CCS is an independent, expert 501c3 nonprofit organization located in Washington, DC with global partners.

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The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 17 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.chesapeakeclimate.org

Meet a CCANer: Anthony Field

Anthony Field is CCAN’s Maryland Campaign Coordinator. Here’s his story.

Tell me a little bit about yourself!

I was born in Plano, texas and went to High School in Wylie, Texas. Both are located in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. I moved to Denton, Texas to attend the University of North Texas (UNT) with a full ride and pursued a BA in Political Science and a minor in Peace Studies and Diplomacy. 

I left UNT to serve as a 2015 White House Intern for former President Obama and after began managing the ground efforts for ballot initiatives and State and Federal races in Texas, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Virginia and also managed disaster relief efforts for FEMA in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria. 

What woke you up to the climate crisis?

I had always been aware of the issue, but it was not until I began increasing my political activity after high school that I fully understood the scale. During my time at UNT I joined the local effort to institute a citywide fracking ban. Myself and dozens of other activists were able to take on the big oil interests and made Denton the first city in Texas to ban fracking! While this ban was eventually overturned by Governor Abbott in May of 2015, I am proud to have been a part of this incredible movement. Additionally, seeing the increased strength and frequency of hurricanes like Harvey opened my eyes to how we are already experiencing the negative effects of climate change. Thousands lost everything, a family friend included. Many thousands more had to evacuate and stay in shelters all across Texas. I had friends volunteer as translators for more than 12 hours a day for consecutive days. Tragedies like this will only become more frequent if we do not do something. 

Texas National Guard soldiers after Hurricane Harvey via Flickr Creative Commons

What impacts of climate change currently hit home to you? 

The destruction of entire ecosystems, the danger posed to predominantly minority and low-income communities, the rapidly increasing health risks, the increased danger of water shortages, destructive weather patterns, the fact that we may not have a planet to live on in a few short decades…  Ya know, small things. 

What brought you to CCAN? 

CCAN looked to be, and I am happy to find, an organization at the forefront of the fight against climate change and for environmental justice. They take a grassroots approach to organizing and have a commitment to including as many groups and people as they can in their fight.

What has inspired you most working with CCAN?

Being able to work every day surrounded by people who are passionate about the work that we are doing and seeing just how dedicated activists and community members are!

What have you contributed to bringing about a clean energy revolution that you are most proud of?

I am proud of my work with Frack Free Denton and my time helping candidates who support initiatives like the Green New Deal get into office. Something that is no less important that I do is utilize my reach on social media and other networks to educate and make people aware of the growing climate crisis. 

What do you hope to see happen in terms of climate in the next year?

I had a dream that President Trump rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement. I would like to see that happen in real life.

What do you like to do when you’re not working on climate change?

I like to relax at home with my two dogs Loki and Prim, play video games, and spend time watching movies at home and in theaters with my girlfriend, Haley. 

Who would you high five?

I would high five Elon Musk. Though I have my issues with him and various companies he has been involved with, I admire his passion and drive. I am thankful that he has put space travel, space exploration, and space tech development back in the spotlight. It has been my dream since I was a little boy to witness the rise of accessible space travel and to see the vastness of open space with my own eyes. I just hope we can continue to develop better, more sustainable ways to reach the stars that will not harm our own planet or ecosystems.