Category Archives: Environmental Justice

BREDL Files Title VI Environmental Justice Complaint with EPA

BREDL files Title VI Environmental Justice Complaint with EPA against the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

June 20, 2018: The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) and its Virginia chapters, Protect Our Water, Concern for the New Generation and No ACP, filed a Title VI civil rights complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) office of External Civil Rights Compliance Office (ECRCO). BREDL’s Stop the Pipelines Campaign Coordinator, Sharon Ponton, stated, “The 26-page complaint tells the story of VADEQ’s segmented process for 401 water quality certification and asks the EPA to void the certification until a thorough environmental justice analysis is completed. We believe we have presented a strong case indicating the environmental justice communities along the path of the proposed ACP will be disproportionately impacted by health impacts from pollution caused by toxic, polluting pipeline infrastructure and its contributions to global warming from leaks and its compressor station, as well as the health affects from noise and toxic emissions from its compressor stations. The complaint also outlines disproportionate impacts from possible threats to water supplies, safety related issues from discriminatory construction rules, and property loss through eminent domain.”

View the Press Release

View the Title VI Complaint

Statement from Roanoke Friends Meeting

The Peace and Social Justice Committee of the Roanoke Friends Meeting adopted this statement May 20, 2018. It was published in the Roanoke Times on June 5, 2018.

Bearing witness to our testimonies of stewardship of the Earth and social justice, we, as Friends (Quakers), are compelled to speak out against two natural gas pipelines proposed in Virginia, and all pipelines transporting gas extracted by hydraulic fracking. Fracking is a process documented to contaminate air and water with toxic chemicals, accelerating climate change and encouraging our dependence on fossil fuels.

The 42-inch diameter Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) would transport natural gas at high pressure for hundreds of miles, traversing steep slopes, cutting through mountains, valleys and national forests. As proposed, the MVP and ACP would cross over streams and rivers in more than 1,100 places, including several Tier 3 designated streams (waters of exceptional quality). Their destructive routes would impact one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world.

These pipelines bear tremendous risks to the inhabitants and environment of areas affected by them.

The mountains surrounding the Roanoke Valley form an important watershed supplying the entire region with high quality water. The very real likelihood of contamination and damage to these watersheds during Mountain Valley Pipeline’s construction threatens the water supply of thousands of people in the valley and beyond.

Water in other regions would also be affected. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would negatively affect the James and Potomac Rivers, which including their tributaries, serve over one-third of the state.

Pipelines are also a threat to social justice as they are frequently routed through rural and impoverished areas where people lack power to resist. In Buckingham County, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline plans to place the largest compressor station in the state in a historic African-American community that was founded after the Civil War by freed men and women.

The result would be devastation of this community as well as other communities and residents that find themselves in the crosshairs of these pipelines. Eminent domain is being misused by a private corporation not for public good but for profit at the expense of citizens’ property rights.

An ever-growing number of people have been resisting these pipelines for almost four years by reasoned, measured, and peaceable responses, using all legal avenues available.

As the reality of pipeline construction increases, so has non-violent direct action, such as tree-sitting to block the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s path. Local and state police as well as pipeline company security guards maintain constant presence at the tree stands. Supporters are not allowed access, food and supplies are withheld and spotlights shine on the tree stands all night.

We hold in the light all those led by their conscience to resist these projects by corporations that place profit over human and environmental well-being and affirm the resisters’ right to humane treatment and peaceful protest.

We ask that Friends insist that those in authority — Gov. Northam, state legislators, The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, affected counties’ supervisors, local and state police — use their power to protect the environment and uphold the rights of our fellow citizens.

History, Health at Stake in Buckingham County

An Appalachian Voices June 4, 2018 Front Porch Blog post, History, Health at Stake in Buckingham County, discusses what is at stake for the residents of Union Hill in Buckingham County, threatened by the Atlantic Coast pipeline. “Both Dominion and FERC, which has approved the project, have essentially ignored the deep history of the community, founded by freedmen and still predominantly African-American. This cultural ‘erasure,’ as anthropologist Lakshmi Fjord describes it, is nothing short of racist.”

See also the excellent People in the Path of Pipelines series, where residents along the routes share their stories of their land and their water at risk.

Advisory Council on Environmental Justice: Draft Statement

The Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice released the following announcement on May 30, 2018:

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice reached consensus May 30 on a draft statement recommending a moratorium on new gas infrastructure in the Commonwealth and calling for a stream-by-stream assessment of the impact of both the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines.

The advisory council, created by former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in 2017, also said placing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s compressor station in Union Hill, a historic African-American community in Buckingham County, exhibits racism and maintained that the human rights of protestors — including those who have engaged in tree sits — are being violated by state and local law enforcement officials as well as the U.S. Forestry Service.

Consensus on a final draft will be worked out quickly, members said, and the language could be modified. No timetable has been set, but council members said it was important to finalize their recommendations before decisions are made by other regulatory bodies. When completed, the recommendations will be sent to Gov. Northam.

The council held its May 30 meeting in Buckingham County to give members a first-hand view of areas that will be impacted by the ACP and compressor station. It also heard concerns expressed by about 30 people during a public comment period. Matt Strickler, Secretary of Natural Resources, joined the council for its meeting.

See video here of Union Hill residents testifying before the Council on May 30, 2018.

Advisory Council for Environmental Justice Met in Buckingham


On Wednesday May 30, 2018, the Governor’s Advisory Council for Environmental Justice met in Buckingham, Virginia, the site of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s sole, mega-sized, toxic-emitting compressor station for the entire state of Virginia. The people of Union Hill and Woods Corner, who would suffer disproportionate impacts to their health, safety, history, cultural attachment, and property if this travesty of justice is allowed to go forward, were able to make public, on-the-record comments to the Council

Compressor Station Site Drone Footage


[Music by Nils Frahm ‘Says’]

From Virginia River Healers: Citizen Drone captured views of Union Hill and areas where Dominion Energy and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are preparing to build a fracked gas compressor station. As seen from the drone, the 68 acres where the ACP plans to construct their compressor station is situated next to many residential homes and farms. The ACP purchased the land from Variety Shade landowners of Virginia, which at one point was a plantation that profited from slavery. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline paid over ten times the areas average price per acre in an area where the population is 85% African American and one-third of the residents are descendants of freedmen. This is what environmental racism looks like. Dominion Energy and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline must be stopped! This compressor station must be stopped and the violence of all fracked gas industries must end! Stand with Union Hill.

Find out more about the Citizen Drone http://www.riverhealers.us/citizen-drone

Join the Pipeline CSI at http://pipelineupdate.org/csi/

Measurements in video were taken from ACP interactive maps and the ACP Compliance Surveillance Mapping and may vary dependent on dates. Interpretive drawings were made based and maps and are to help reference proposed infrastructure. For specific accuracy refer to the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition site at https://dpmc-gis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=bad99995a7674146903a3aacb83bd879