Category Archives: Environmental Justice

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

Virginia to Hold Forums on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

Governor Northam’s administration is planning five community forums to get input on Virginia’s first-ever Strategic Plan for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence. The forums will be in Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Bristol, Falls Church and Norfolk throughout March.

Appalachian Voices says, “The governor’s press release said the forums are to get public input on a draft plan to address systemic inequities in state government on issues including education, healthcare and job opportunities. Despite the heightened focus on the need for environmental justice in decision-making by the state on issues like fracked-gas pipelines and gas plants, the press release made no specific mention of the environment.”

When Appalachian Voices asked the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion about the format for public engagement, the office replied: “These are working sessions where we foster conversation and dialogue. There will be time for both verbal and virtual public comment. …As much as we would like to hear from everyone, we are unable to do so. Public comments and/or questions will have up to a minute per person. In addition, we are prepared to receive written questions/comments/suggestions.”

The first forum was held in Norfolk on March 2, 2020. The remaining four forums will all be from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM  at these locations:

  • Monday March 9, 2020, Charlottesville, Charlottesville High School, Media Center, 1400 Melbourne Rd.
  • Wednesday March 18, 2020, Harrisonburg:  Harrisonburg City Hall, 409 South Main St.
  • Wednesday March 25, 2020, Northern Virginia:  James Lee Community Center, 2855 Annandale Rd,. Falls Church
  • Wednesday March 31, 2020, Bristol:  Bristol Virginia Public Schools, School Board Office, 220 Lee St.

Registration is not required, but space is limited at all the venues, and those interested in attending are urged to pre-register here.

In a related story, Virginia Mercury reported on March 4, 2020 that Governor signs bill making Virginia Council on Environmental Justice permanent.

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.