Community Leaders Accuse Dominion Energy of Blatant Environmental Racism Over Controversial Compressor Station for Fracked Gas
RICHMOND, VA — Today, the Northam administration removed two members of the Air Pollution Control Board from their posts before a crucial vote on the gigantic and deeply harmful Atlantic Coast Pipeline compressor station in Buckingham County, Virginia. These members were a part of a crucial bloc of votes which led to stronger environmental protections in recently the re-proposed Carbon Reduction Plan and they both showed concern about the permit for the Buckingham compressor station. The proposed 54,000-horsepower compressor station — situated a short distance from the homes of the descendants 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.
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. 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.
Even though Mr. Bleicher and Mrs. Rubin both had terms that were set to expire in June, their roles would have extended indefinitely if the Northam administration had not taken action.
This decision comes just weeks after the world’s top scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a dire warning sounded the alarm bells for the world to move away from dangerous fossil fuels at a rapid pace.
Harrison Wallace, Virginia Director of CCAN, stated in response:
“We are shocked and incredibly disappointed that the Northam Administration is terminating the terms of Air Board members Rebecca Rubin and Sam Bleicher. This deeply controversial move comes just weeks before a crucial vote on the Buckingham Compressor Station for fracked gas. The people of Union Hill and Buckingham County deserve a fair hearing from the full board. This decision will rob them of that opportunity. Governor Northam has now officially taken ownership of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and ownership of this compressor station, a facility which involves strong elements of environmental racism. The governor must understand that with today’s action, the public will now hold him responsible for all the future harm to water, the climate, farmland, and human life that now could come to Virginia.”