Oral arguments before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on the challenge to the air permit issued in January 2019 for the Buckingham compressor station took place in Richmond on October 29, 2019. Chief Judge Roger Gregory, who headed the three-judge panel, repeatedly pushed attorneys representing the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the State Air Pollution Control Board, and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline about why they compared Union Hill air quality to air quality around the state rather than to the surrounding Buckingham area.
Under questioning from Gregory, Deputy Solicitor General Martine Cicconi conceded that Union Hill is populated overwhelmingly by African Americans. Dominion had long disputed findings of an extensive door-to-door survey to document who lives around the proposed compressor station site, begun four years ago by anthropologist Lakshmi Fjord.
The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation led the appeal. In a press release from SELC, Senior Attorney Greg Buppert said, “Union Hill is a historic African-American community that traces its roots to the end of the Civil War. The siting of the compressor station and its harmful air pollution in this community is not consistent with the Commonwealth’s commitment to protect the health of all Virginians. After five years, it remains a mystery why the pipeline’s lead partner, Dominion Energy, has never once proposed moving this facility.”
An announcement of the court’s decision is expected in early 2020.
Read the Richmond Times-Dispatch coverage here.
Read the Daily Progress coverage here.
Read the Virginia Mercury coverage here.
Read the SELC press release here.
Read the SELC opening brief here.
And finally, audio recording of the oral arguments made before the Court (57-minutes) is available by clicking here.
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