Category Archives: Environmental Justice

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.

Ten Reasons to Oppose the ACP

Here are 10 reasons why Friends of Nelson opposes the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. In the coming weeks we will be posting expanded information on each of the 10 reasons. We hope this information will help clarify your thinking and help you to explain to family, friends, neighbors, and legislators why you oppose the ACP. (Click here to download a printable version of the list.)

1. No Demand or Need
With evidence of reduced future demand and with recent upgrades to existing pipelines, energy analysts argue that there is no need domestically for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Additionally, foreign demand for this gas is better satisfied by nearer sources which can be produced and delivered at a lower cost.

2. Climate Change Implications
Gas pipelines leak methane gas and their compressor and metering stations regularly release methane and other harmful pollutants. The ACP will therefore significantly contribute to climate change.

3. Cost Burden on Ratepayers
The pipeline’s almost $8 billion construction cost will eventually mean rate increases for all Dominion customers as they will have to foot a large part of the ACP cost, regardless of whether it is put into service or not.

4. Discourages Utility Investment in Alternatives
The ACP’s possible construction and its huge capital investment cost will discourage utilities from promoting and developing non-fossil fuel, increasingly cost-effective alternatives such as wind and solar.

5. Eminent Domain Seizures of Private Property
Through the imposition of Eminent Domain, the proposed route confiscates and restricts Nelson landowners’ property rights, lowering their own and adjoining neighbors’ property values.

6. Landslide Danger on Steep Slopes
The proposed construction and placement of the pipeline endangers Nelson citizens’ lives and property, especially on steep slopes which are highly susceptible to landslide failures. Note that ruptured pipelines are likely to explode.

7. Disproportionate Harm to Minority Communities
The ACP will specifically harm the historic African American community of Union Hill by locating a dangerous and polluting compressor station in its midst.

8. Containment Failures Impact on Streams and Drinking Water
As recently demonstrated with the Mountain Valley Pipeline, construction of the ACP will, despite promised containment safeguards, silt up mountain and valley streams, affecting local drinking water and aquatic life.

9. Forest Fragmentation and Effects on Endangered Species
The ACP’s construction will further fragment our vulnerable eastern forests, reducing the habitat and population of Federally-listed endangered species. Such activity could potentially cause their extinction.

10. Detracts from Scenic Views on Public Lands
The pipeline corridor will detract from scenic views on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Appalachian Trail and National Forest Lands. One of the most prominent viewing locations is at the Parkway’s Raven’s Roost overlook.