Category Archives: Environmental Justice

Large Turnout for Air Quality Hearing

Over 150 people attended the September 11, 2018, hearing conducted in Buckingham by the Virginia State Air Control Board (SACB) to receive comments on the proposed compressor station for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). More than 60 people spoke out against Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline compressor station in Union Hill by challenging the draft air permit.

You may view videos of the hearing on either Facebook or YouTube.

You can still speak up! The public comment period for the air permit has been EXTENDED until September 21See here for information and links to help you make your comments.

Show up! Stand with Union Hill this Sunday, September 16 (to be held as scheduled) and each month at the Circle of Protection

News coverage of the hearing may be read in Augusta Free Press, Blue Virginia, and the Virginia Mercury.

In the Neighborhood


A video about the neighborhood around the proposed compressor station.

Weigh in as Virginia officials consider the Atlantic Coast Pipeline compressor station.

Let the Virginia Air Board know that compressor stations like the one Dominion is planning for Union Hill pose health risks for neighbors and pollute the surrounding community’s air.

How to comment?  Go here.

Appalling Silence

Jonathan Sokolow’s September 4, 2018, article in Medium, Pipeline Politics: The Appalling Silence of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, discusses the apparent acceptance of  the “old plantation tradition” by Governor Northam, his Chief of Staff Clark Mercer, and his Secretary of Natural Resources Matt Strickler.

“But elsewhere in Virginia, plantation politics is alive and well, shining a bright and distasteful light on the pipeline battle over which Matt Strickler and Governor Northam are presiding. And the epicenter is Buckingham County, the geographic heart of the Commonwealth.”

Northam has been completely silent on Union Hill for four years, although he directly addressed Dominion’s plans to build a compressor station for a different project in view of Mt. Vernon, and a week later Dominion moved the compressor station. Mt. Vernon is now safe, Union Hill is not.

Northam has remained silent despite pleas from the Virginia State Chapter of the NAACP, despite the investigation of Union Hill by the U.S. Justice Department, and despite the strong statement of the Governor’s own Advisory Council on Environmental Justice. Sokolow notes that, “You would expect a Democratic governor, elected in 2017 with overwhelming African American support, to respond positively to such recommendations from his own Environmental Justice appointees. You would be wrong.”

Sokolow reminds us, “In April 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote a letter from his jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama that would become a bedrock document of the Civil Rights Movement. Speaking to leaders who, despite good intentions, failed to speak up against injustice, King famously wrote: ‘We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.'”

Sokolow concludes, “Northam’s silence is more than just embarrassing. His failure to listen to his own appointees is more than just insulting. One might say his silence is appalling.”

Challenge the Compressor Station Air Permit


Send your comments to DEQ to challenge the air permit for the proposed ACP compressor station in Union Hill by September 11, 2018. Help deny the air permit for the ACP Compressor Station that would endanger and diminish the health and land values of all residents of Buckingham County and destroy the lives of the historic African American community of Union Hill. No compressor station = No ACP.  To comment, follow instructions on the Friends of Buckingham page.

The Department of Environmental Quality Public Hearing on the draft air permit for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline Compressor Station will be Tuesday September 11, 2018, from 5:00 pm to 9:30 pm.

After you have sent your written comments to DEQ, please come to the September 11 public hearing and pre-hearing vigil It will be at the Buckingham County Middle School, 1184 High School Rd, Buckingham, VA 23921 (off of Hwy 60/West James Anderson Hwy).  Arrive at 4 PM to sign up to speak, and for vigil, music, snacks, press conference and materials to help you draft your comment. The sooner you arrive to sign up to comment the better!  Comments will be limited to 3 minutes, and, if possible, it would be good to have a written copy of your comments at the hearing to give to DEQ staff.

This compressor station, a giant one, even by industry standards would bring loud constant noise and release toxic poisons into Buckingham’s air and water. The health of children is particularly vulnerable to the methane, formaldehyde, arsenic, benzene, xylene and other compounds the compressor will regularly release. The compressor station would create a fire and explosion hazard completely beyond the capacity of distant volunteer firefighters. The station wold have few staff on site and would be built on a former slave plantation atop the unmarked slave graves of Union Hill ancestors.

Governor at Odds with Appointed Advisory Council

In a letter on August 16, 2018, Governor Ralph Northam’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice called for a stay on all further permits for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. Blue Virginia reported that the Council recommended an Emergency Task Force on Environmental Justice in Gas Infrastructure to review and address the evidence it has found of “disproportionate impacts for people of color and for low-income populations due to gas infrastructure expansion.”

The Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP), noted in an August 17 press release, “it is the Governor’s position that the letter is only a draft, and not final until voted upon by the committee ‘in the coming weeks'” and said that “The committee is clear that the letter is a finished piece of work deserving of action by the governor.”

A member of the Governor’s Advisory Council, Dr Mary Finley-Brook, told GJEP in an email, “I am surprised by the Governor’s press staff questioning the finality of the letter after we worked for 3 months to achieve consensus. The Council has voted on this letter more than once already and members have repeatedly communicated an urgent need to address environmental justice concerns surrounding the ACP and MVP in a timely fashion given the pre-construction and permitting processes currently occurring. I was not aware of any plans to call for a vote or any further discussion of this pipeline letter.”

The Washington Post reported on August 28, 2018, that – just to make sure Governor Northam understood their recommendations were final – “The 15-member Advisory Council on Environmental Justice on Tuesday formally urged Northam to direct state agencies to suspend water and air quality permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline, separate projects being built through mountainous and rural parts of the state. Raising questions about the impact on health and the environment from the pipelines, the council said the governor should appoint an emergency task force ‘to ensure that predominately poor, indigenous, brown and/or black communities do not bear an unequal burden of environmental pollutants and life-altering disruptions.’ The board, created in October [2017] by Gov. Terry Mc­Auliffe (D), has no authority over the process but is charged with providing ‘independent advice and recommendations to the Executive Branch’ on matters of environmental justice, according to Executive Order 73, which established it.”  The Blue Virginia coverage of this story includes a video of the unanimous vote.

The clear (and clearly final!) recommendation of the board puts it at odds with Northam, who maintains that the regulatory process is working as it should.