Pipelines are part of the fossil fuel infrastructure that is contributing to our changing climate. We must make major strides together as people of faith and conscience to create a just and sustainable world. VAIPL’s work advocating against fossil fuels and for a clean energy economy is rooted in environmental justice.

Environmental justice means “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of every person, regardless of race, color, national origin, income, faith, or disability, regarding the development, implementation, or enforcement of any environmental law, regulation, or policy”. Anyone interested in receiving email updates from Virginia Governor Northam’s Secretary of Natural Resources Office on environmental justice can sign up here: Virginia EJ Community ListServe   

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Pipeline Approval Process Skewed Against Landowners

In April 2020, the Federal House Committee on Oversight and Reform officially released their video report “showing that the natural gas pipeline approval process used by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) unjustly tramples on the rights of private landowners.”

Watch:House Oversight Committee Video Report

Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Buckingham Compressor Station

2018 – Comment Periods and Air Board Considered Air Permit for Buckingham Compressor Station

On Friday, November 9, 2018, we celebrated because the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board decided to defer their vote on the air permit for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) Buckingham compressor station until their next meeting because of health, site suitability and environmental justice concerns. This deferral is to give the Board more time to consider the information that the public, the Department of Environmental Quality and Dominion Energy submitted. Read our statement on this decision.

Less than one week after this decision, Governor Northam replaced two Air Board members after they raised concerns about environmental justice, but before their final vote. Both members, Sam Bleicher and Rebecca Rubin, raised concerns about the disproportionate health impacts on this majority African American community. Their removal means they won’t be able to vote when the Air Board may decide the fate of Union Hill and the compressor station. Read our joint statement on this decision.

On December 19, 2018, the Air Pollution Control Board delayed their vote again to open a 10-day written comment period for the public to weigh in on documents that the Board received from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) about Union Hill’s standing as an environmental justice community and site suitability for the proposed compressor station.

2019 – Air Board Approved Air Permit for Buckingham Compressor Station

On January 9, 2019, the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board voted 4-0 to approve the air permit for the proposed Buckingham compressor station for the ACP. The choice of the Air Pollution Control Board and the Department of Environmental Quality to permit the sacrifice of our neighbors’ health and safety for a private company to profit is disheartening. Read our full statement.

2020 – Legal Challenges Continue

On January 7, 2020, the Fourth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Buckingham community. This ruling makes it clear that pipeline developers, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy, did not properly look into environmental justice in the placement of the compressor station in Union Hill, which is a historic African-American community settled by freedmen. The air permit was thrown out.

The decision was appealed and was heard earlier this year in front of the Supreme Court. We are currently awaiting the decision.

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