Concern for the New Generation calls for community veto of natural gas station

earthConcern for the New Generation has  launched a campaign calling for a community veto of the 57,500 horsepower natural gas compressor station proposed for Union Hill in Buckingham County.

Concern for the New Generation directed its appeal to the Buckingham Board of Supervisors. The group’s goal is to block the natural gas compressor station.

Residents near the proposed compressor station are asking local officials to take action to protect them from the pollution and to protect their way of life. Kathie Mosley, a resident of the Union Hill community, worried about what will be left for future generations if the compressor were to be built.

“Protecting our community for future generations is our responsibility,” Mosely stated. “How does anyone live here with the air pollution and noise from the compressor station?” she asked.

Paul Wilson, the pastor at both Union Hill and Union Grove Baptist churches, said, “The Buckingham County Board of Supervisors must assess the impact of the proposed compressor station on the environment and on public health.”  He continued, “Much of the pollution emitted from the proposed compressor station is toxic or can cause cancer.  For example, formaldehyde impacts health at very low levels. Exposures to as little as 0.1 to 2 parts per million causes irritation of the eyes, nose and throat.  At 5 to 10 parts per million, people experience cough, tightness of the chest and eye damage.”

“I moved here 13 years ago with my husband,” stated Ruby Laury, another resident of the Union Hill community.  “After moving here, I understood why my husband wanted to come back home.” But now Mrs. Laury wonders, “What about our senior citizens? Some are having health issues—what will happen to them?  What about the younger generation whose parents/grandparents plan to leave them an inheritance of their property/homes?  This legacy will be gone.”

Sharon Ponton, an organizer with the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, labeled the proposed compressor an environmental injustice, prompting the call for a community veto.  She said, “The compressor station in Buckingham would be the largest of three planned for the proposed Atlantic Coast pipeline.  Two of them would be built in low-income, rural communities with above average minority populations.”  In Buckingham County, VA the African-American population is nearly 35% and in Northampton County, NC, the African-American population is 58% according to the US Census Bureau.

Ponton said that there is ample legal basis for a community veto by the Board of Supervisors.  She said, “CNG calls for a community veto based on the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, which declares that, ‘all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people.’ Further, the Code of Virginia states ‘any county may adopt such measures as it deems expedient to secure and promote the health, safety and general welfare of its inhabitants.’ Ponton continued, “The Board’s most important responsibility is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the residents of this community.”

The next hurdle in the multi-level process for the compressor station in Buckingham County for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) is to obtain a Special Use Permit from the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors.  A public hearing before the Planning Commission is scheduled for September 26.

Concern for the New Generation, the name of the new Union Hill group, was Ms. Mosley’s suggestion and was adopted unanimously at a community meeting last Sunday.  Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League was founded in 1984 to fight a nuclear waste dump in Virginia and North Carolina.

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