Category Archives: Compressor Stations

Story Map on ACP Route in Nelson and Buckingham


Friends of Nelson is very pleased to share the Esri Story Map created by Karen Kasmauski of the International League of Conservation Photographers.

This International League of Conservation Photographers is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support environmental and cultural conservation through ethical photography and filmmaking. They had a small grant from BamaWorks to document the impacts that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would have have on people and places, specifically in Nelson and Buckingham County.

Karen Kasmauski was the ILCP conservation fellow who came to Nelson and Buckingham for an initial reconnaissance/background tour in early September and then returned for more extensive photographing of multiple sites in early October. Friends of Nelson arranged for her to meet with some impacted landowners and see their lands and how the route would affect them. We also took her to visit local breweries and agribusinesses, explore wetlands that would be impacted, tour some of the steepest slope locations on the proposed route as well as some non-route areas that were devastated in Camille, accompany Friends of Nelson’s Doug Wellman for stream testing, observe how we/CSI use drones to monitor the route, and to come aboard and take a flight in the CSI/Pipeline Airforce plane to view the proposed impacts from the air.

In her essay accompanying the photos, Karen speaks of the people she met, saying, “Their stories also made me think about the larger picture of energy and why we continue building infrastructure like the ACP. Natural gas was supposed to be a bridge — a transitional energy source between coal and the increasingly affordable and popular renewables like solar and wind. Renewable success stories abound. Entire towns in Texas, one of the main fossil fuel states, are switching to more cost-effective wind power. While cleaner than coal, production and consumption of natural gas releases large quantities of methane, one of the main contributors to the warming of our planet. Why prolong our dependence on this energy source at the cost of alternatives that will serve us better in the long term? Is it appropriate to link these global concerns to this focused look at one portion of a regional pipeline project? Absolutely. The vast global picture of energy and environment are really comprised of thousands of local issues like those presented by the ACP. The concerns playing out in Nelson and Buckingham counties show us what could be lost should the ACP be allowed to go forward. A close look at the stories here mirror what is repeated in many ways and in many places on similar energy and environmental concerns.”

Karen Kasmauski’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline Story Map is here.

Click here to view the full set of photos Karen took in Nelson and Buckingham Counties.

Friends of Buckingham Spring Celebration – POSTPONED


Due to the coronavirus and a desire to keep all of us as safe and healthy as possible, the Friends of Buckingham Spring Celebration is cancelled (for now). We are all so excited to gather with you and celebrate our shared good work, but we’ll have to wait a while yet to do so.

When: Saturday, March 28, 2020, 11 AM – 3 PM
Where: The “B.A.R.N.” (Buckingham Agriculture Resource Network), 11851 W James Anderson Hwy, Buckingham, VA 23921

Join Friends of Buckingham, Appalachian Voices, and friends for a spring party to celebrate the 4th Circuit Court victory over the Buckingham Compressor Station! Hurray, Union Hill! Hurray, Environmental Justice!

This is an opportunity to show gratitude for all the hard work we’ve put in the last 5 years with the help of allies and partners across the region. We’ll recap where we’ve been and share what is coming up next. Fun games, activities, and music (feel free to bring an instrument if you like). Potluck style. Please bring a dish to share!

Please RSVP to Lara Mack at 540-246-9720 or lcmack4286@gmail.com by March 21, 2020.

We’ll send additional information out closer to the date. Keep an eye on your inboxes for updates in a couple of weeks!

Warmly,
Friends of Buckingham, Appalachian Voices, and friends

DEQ Launches Environmental Justice Study

From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update #264, February 20, 2020

An effort to develop recommendations for incorporation of environmental justice principles into the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) programs and actions, announced last September by the agency, will soon begin interviewing environmental justice stakeholders, non-government organizations, local government officials and others in coming weeks. The February 19, 2020 announcement of the forthcoming interviews comes in the wake of the recent decision of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals striking down the air permit for the Buckingham County compressor station for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline for reasons that included the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board’s failure to properly consider the environmental justice impacts of the project.

Click here for a copy of the DEQ’s announcement.

Action Alert: Stand with Union Hill


A federal court recently struck down the permit that would allow Dominion to build a huge compressor station in the historic minority community of Union Hill in Buckingham County (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/23/opinion/virginia-pipeline.html). Dominion says it will push ahead to build the compressor station, a key part of its Atlantic Coast Pipeline proposal. Please take a moment to to ask Governor Northam to stand with Union Hill and stop this violation of environmental justice. Here’s how to contact the governor:

Mailing Address
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 1475
Richmond, VA 23218

EmailFill out the email form here.

Phone:   (804) 786-2211

A Committment to Right the Wrongs of Our Past

Writing in an opinion piece in the New York Times on January 23, 2020, Jeff Gleason, Executive Director of the Southern Environmental Law Center, contrasts Dominion’s willingness to relocate a proposed compressor station in Mt. Vernon’s viewshed with its unwillingness to relocate the proposed ACP compressor station in Union Hill: “Mount Vernon tells the history of America, but so does Union Hill. Environmental justice is a commitment to right the wrongs of our past that persist today.”

Gleason’s article, ‘Environmental Justice Is Not Merely a Box to Be Checked’, discusses Union Hill’s Fourth Circuit Court victory after “appeals to Dominion, state regulators and Virginia’s governors went unheeded.”

He says that environmental justice should have required Dominion and state regulators to consider the effects of pollution on Union Hill, and should have required them to give “serious consideration to an electric compressor that would nearly eliminate air pollution from the facility. They did neither. Instead of honoring Union Hill’s past and present, the state’s most powerful forces essentially denied its existence. The courts did not.”

Gleason writes, “While Union Hill may represent the remarkable history of resilience from our country’s unjust beginnings, it also reveals the country’s continuing imbalance of power and the decisions about whose histories we choose to honor.”

Happily, the Fourth Circuit Court’s decision is a step toward righting that imbalance of power.

Read Gleason’s full column here.

4th Circuit Court Vacates ACP Buckingham Compressor Station Permit

On January 7, 2020, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the air permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s Buckingham compressor station located in Virginia’s historic, predominantly African-American Union Hill community. The air permit was granted last January by the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board. The suit challenging the permit had been brought by Friends of Buckingham (represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center) and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. In the 3-0 opinion written by Judge Thacker, the Court remanded the permit to the Air Board for further deliberation on two grounds, as noted in these excerpts from the opinion:

  • “The Board’s decision was arbitrary and capricious and unsupported by substantial evidence. As Petitioners point out, ACP’s and Respondents’ arguments on appeal read as ‘convenient litigation position[s].’ . Nothing more. We vacate and remand for further explanation of reliance on the redefining the source doctrine, and/or why electric turbines are not required to be considered in Virginia’s BACT analysis of the Compressor Station.”
  • “We conclude that the Board failed in its statutory duty to determine the character and degree of injury to the health of the Union Hill residents, and the suitability of the activity to the area. We vacate and remand for the Board to make findings with regard to conflicting evidence in the record, the particular stud(ies) it relied on, and the corresponding local character and degree of injury from particulate matter and toxic substances threatened by construction and operation of the Compressor Station.  To be clear, if true, it is admirable that the Compressor Station ‘has more stringent requirements than any similar compressor station anywhere in the United States,’ and that residents of Union Hill ‘will be breathing cleaner air than the vast majority of Virginia residents even after the Compressor Station goes into operation,’ But these mantras do not carry the day. What matters is whether the Board has performed its statutory duty to determine whether this facility is suitable for this site, in light of EJ and potential health risks for the people of Union Hill. It has not.”

We congratulate Friends of Buckingham, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) which represented them, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation on the years of hard work which brought about this favorable ruling.

A copy of the Fourth Circuit’s full opinion is here.

A press release from SELC says in part, “The decision marks the eighth time since May 2018 that a federal court or the federal agencies themselves have revoked or suspended Atlantic Coast Pipeline permits. As a result, pipeline builders Dominion and Duke shut down all construction more than a year ago with less than 6% of the project in the ground.  The future of this risky and highly controversial pipeline is uncertain. Developers must evaluate alternative routes that avoid two national forests—potentially redrawing significant portions of their proposal—in order to comply with an earlier court decision. And more than five years after the pipeline was first announced, new evidence makes it apparent that the project is excessively costly and unnecessary.  ‘For the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, it’s the same story again and again,’ said Greg Buppert, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. ‘Dominion tried to force a pipeline compressor station into a community where it didn’t belong, just like it has tried to force the pipeline through a national park, national forests, and steep mountains. But the people of Union Hill never backed down. Today they’ve won an important victory, not just for themselves, but for every community in Virginia facing the unjust burden of industry and pollution.'”

The opinion specifies a number of difficult issues the Air Board must resolve before reissuing the permit.  Wild Virginia’s David Sligh commented, “The court found that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the State Air Pollution Control Board failed to do their jobs. Officials in these agencies refused to adequately analyze whether the compressor station would have disproportionate impacts on the largely minority community around it (it would). As the court stated: “environmental justice is not merely a box to be checked.” Agency officials refused to acknowledge reliable demographic information supplied by citizens or to collect their own. Instead, they relied on flawed sources that even they admitted were unreliable. Our public officials also refused to look at whether the station should be powered by electric motors versus gas and, therefore, create less pollution and risk to residents’ health. The officials tried to explain this failure by citing a federal rule that clearly does not apply and then a state rule that the court said does not exist.”

Richmond Times Dispatch coverage of the story is here (including a photo at the January 2019 Air Board hearing with Friends of Nelson Board members in the audience).  The Court’s ruling was widely covered in local, regional, and national media outlets, including the Washington Post and the New York Times.