News You May Have Missed

There’s been a lot going on – here are some news items from our In the News page you may have missed (many additional interesting news articles on that page).

Upcoming Events

Dates to save!

Sunday, November 17, 2019, Potluck-movie-discussion, Rockfish Presbyterian Church, 5016 Rockfish Valley Hwy (Rt 151), Faber, VA 22938. Potluck dinner 4:30pm, Movie (Before the Flood) 5pm, followed by discussion.

Wednesday , November 20, 2019, Protest at Dominion Virginia Energy (Charlottesville headquarters), 1719 Hydraulic Rd., Charlottesville. [Repeated every 1st and 3rd Wednesday, so come back on December 4 and December 18.]

Sunday, December 8, 2019, Potluck-movie-discussion, Rockfish Presbyterian Church, 5016 Rockfish Valley Hwy (Rt 151), Faber, VA 22938. Potluck dinner 4:30pm, Movie (Racing Extinction) 5pm, followed by discussion.

Sunday, January 12, 2020, Friends of Nelson Annual Meeting, Rockfish Valley Community Center, 6-10 pm.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020, Climate Lobby Day, CCAN Action Fund and Sierra Club’s Grassroots Climate Lobby Day, 7:00 am – 2:00 pm, January 14, 2020, Start at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church: 815 E Grace St Richmond, VA 23219

BREDL Releases Report on Union Hill

Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League – Press release

Contact: Sharon Ponton, 434 420-1874,
John Laury, 434 390-4725,
Kathie Mosley, 434 953-7031,

After 400 years, African Americans Still Face
Subversive Policies Limiting Their Ability to Build Wealth

Buckingham, VA – Today Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and its Buckingham Chapter, Concern for the New Generation, released a new report: “Union Hill: Real Property, Racism and Environmental Justice,” which reveals a history of subversive policies, in Virginia and nationwide, which severely limit the ability for African Americans to build wealth.

Kathie Mosley, Co-Chair of Concern for the New Generation, stated, “Helping with the courthouse research on the properties forced to host the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the siting of the compressor station in Union Hill was an eye-opening experience for me.” She continued, “Eleven of the 15 properties in Union Hill are owned by minorities. Seven of the 15 are heir properties.”

Sharon Ponton, BREDL’s Stop the Pipelines Campaign Coordinator said that “heir properties” occur when someone dies without a will, leaving all the heirs as owners in common. With no one having a controlling interest in the property, those families are at a distinct disadvantage when dealing with eminent domain proceedings.

John Laury, a member of Concern for the New Generation, said that Buckingham County’s courthouse records incorrectly identified the shapes of these properties. Laury said, “We needed to prove which properties the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would cross, if built, so we could complete the research for our study. We were surprised to find 73% of the properties are owned by minorities, and that Dominion chose the Union Hill site instead of the 148 acres it first purchased for the compressor station in a mostly white community just a couple of miles away.” Laury’s work helped identify property boundaries on three of the 15 properties studied.

Ponton pointed out that in the early 1900’s there were over 925,000 farms owned by black farmers. “There has been a 97% decline in land owned by African Americans since the 1920’s. Here in Buckingham, these families have held onto these heir properties for over a century, and here comes Dominion threatening the legacy left to them by their ancestors. It is unacceptable to allow this to happen to this community.”

The group plans to deliver a copy of the report to Governor Northam, Attorney General Herring, and David Paylor, Director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality later this week.

The context for the study is Virginia 400, marking the history of the slave trade in the United States. From 250 years of slavery, 100 years of Jim Crow laws to the continued subversive policy of siting toxic polluting facilities in environmental justice and other marginalized communities, African Americans and those who live in poverty have been relegated to less than second class citizenship.

Download the BREDL report here.

News You May Have Missed

There’s been a lot going on – here are some news items from our In the News page you may have missed (many additional interesting news articles on that page).

Friends of Nelson Honored for Its Community Contributions

Friends of Nelson, a founding member of ABRA, was given the Community Stalwart Award by the Property Rights and Pipeline Center (PRPC), a national coalition supporting the fight to prevent the use of eminent domain for siting of oil and gas infrastructure. ABRA is a member of PRPC.

The award was presented to Friends of Nelson for its “generous donation of time, toil, and inspiration in the struggle for a cleaner America.” The stated mission of Friends of Nelson ( is to protect property rights, property values, rural heritage and the environment for all the citizens of Nelson County, Virginia.” Doug Wellman, Vice-President of the organization, accepted the award on October 29 at the annual conference of PRPC, held in Washington. The conference featured an address by Richard Glick, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and included visits with Members of Congress by teams of landowners affected by pipeline projects from throughout the country.

Click here to view videos of the award ceremony (bottom video link on the Web page) and of Richard Averitt’s interview with FERC Commissioner Glick (top video link on the Web page).

For more on PRPC, click here.

Oral Arguments in 4th Circuit Court on Buckingham Compressor Station

Oral arguments before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on the challenge to the air permit issued in January 2019 for the Buckingham compressor station took place in Richmond on October 29, 2019. Chief Judge Roger Gregory, who headed the three-judge panel, repeatedly pushed attorneys representing the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the State Air Pollution Control Board, and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline about why they compared Union Hill air quality to air quality around the state rather than to the surrounding Buckingham area.

Under questioning from Gregory, Deputy Solicitor General Martine Cicconi conceded that Union Hill is populated overwhelmingly by African Americans. Dominion had long disputed findings of an extensive door-to-door survey to document who lives around the proposed compressor station site, begun four years ago by anthropologist Lakshmi Fjord.

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation led the appeal.  In a press release from SELC, Senior Attorney Greg Buppert said, “Union Hill is a historic African-American community that traces its roots to the end of the Civil War. The siting of the compressor station and its harmful air pollution in this community is not consistent with the Commonwealth’s commitment to protect the health of all Virginians.  After five years, it remains a mystery why the pipeline’s lead partner, Dominion Energy, has never once proposed moving this facility.”

An announcement of the court’s decision is expected in early 2020.

Read the Richmond Times-Dispatch coverage here.

Read the Daily Progress coverage here.

Read the Virginia Mercury coverage here.

Read the SELC press release here.

Read the SELC opening brief here.

And finally, audio recording of the oral arguments made before the Court (57-minutes) is available by clicking here.