Virginia’s NAACP re-affirmed their opposition to the pipeline

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by Brandon Jarvis

The Washington Post published a story yesterday claiming that the Virginia chapter of the NAACP was reversing their opposition in some parts to the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines.

“In a letter dated Nov. 21, the state conference president, Kevin Chandler, told Gov. Ralph Northam (D) that his organization is “satisfied with the progress and efforts Dominion Energy has made to work with the key stakeholders and residents in the Union Hill community.”

The NAACP is denying that this is the case, sending out a letter to re-affirm their opposition to the pipelines. “Recent news reports have incorrectly suggested that this represented a change in position for the VSC NAACP, which has long expressed our opposition to this compressor station and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline overall.  To be clear, VSC NAACP continues to oppose both the compressor station and the pipeline and urges the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board to deny Dominion’s permit application.”

Back in early November, Virginia air pollution regulators delayed voting on a permit for a natural gas pumping facility in the historical African American community of Union Hill, after raising questions about how environmental justice issues were considered in the state’s review of the project.

After the delay, Governor Northam removed two of the regulators on the board. The two board members that Northam removed previously expressed concerns about the pumping facility.

The removed Board members Samuel Bleicher from Arlington and Rebecca R. Rubin of Fredericksburg raised questions about the location and safety of the compressor station. Northam’s office said that Bleicher and Rubin’s term had expired in the summer.

Northam then appointed two new members to the board, however they will not be able to vote on the compressor station – leaving only five members to vote in the December 5th election.

Read the letter from the NAACP below.

 

On November 21, 2018, the VSC NAACP submitted a letter to the Governor’s Office in regard to a recent agreement reached between the newly formed Union Hill Citizens’ Association and the Dominion Energy Group.  In this letter, the VSC NAACP noted that Dominion Energy finally agreed to provide the fire and medical support the community of Union Hill would need if, and when, the pipeline and oversized 56,000 horsepower compressor station is completed.  Recent news reports have incorrectly suggested that this represented a change in position for the VSC NAACP, which has long expressed our opposition to this compressor station and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline overall.  To be clear, VSC NAACP continues to oppose both the compressor station and the pipeline and urges the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board to deny Dominion’s permit application.

 

 

The VSC NAACP opposes these projects because it has and continues to be concerned for the safety of the historic Union Hill community, and fears the community is still at great risk due to the damage that would be caused to Union Hill’s air, water, cultural resources and quality of life, as well as the inadequate safety measures identified in the project plans. With regard to those safety measures, this agreement presents a responsibility that should have been inherently a part of the project, and was intended to correct this omission. The agreement does nothing to allay our concerns for the damage this project would do, and our previous letter in response to it in no way constitutes a statement of support for the compressor station itself. We remain opposed to these projects.

 

This agreement also does not relieve Dominion Energy from the other demands previously presented to DEQ about the project, and VSC NAACP expects the permit review process will begin to seriously take into account the environmental injustices presented by the VSC NAACP and the Union Hill community.

 

As it pertains specifically to the Air Permit for the Compressor Station, the VSC NAACP continues to stand firmly by its position submitted to DEQ and demand that:

  1. All activities associated with constructing the pipelines are halted until accurate demographic, cultural and historic data are submitted by the applicant. Furthermore, we ask that the applicant work collaboratively with all local residents and property owners to make sure the community’s intrinsic resources are included, particularly high consequence areas and those with significant historic and cultural value (i.e. unmarked gravesites).
  2. The applicant be required to identify a more robust and reliable air modeling and air quality monitoring program.
  3. The applicant conducts of a Quantitative Risk Assessment and Comprehensive Health Impact Assessment to properly assess, evaluate and mitigate potential negative effects prior to the approval of any air permits.
  4. The applicant provides a compelling reason why this site is the only site on which this compressor station can be built. 
  5. The applicant provides a compelling reason why these pipelines are needed and to whom the energy will be sold. 

 

President Kevin Chandler, VSC NAACP, expresses great concern and displeasure that the letter addressed to the Governor was allowed to be used as a political pawn by the applicant.  The VSC NAACP request an immediate meeting with Governor Northam to discuss the environmental justice issues that are plaguing this project. 

 

The VSC NAACP stands firmly behind the community of Union Hill and all other communities affected by these projects.

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