BREDL: DEQ attempting to erase history of Union Hill

virginia mapThe Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League is calling out the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for what it says are attempts on the part of the DEQ to erase the lives and history of the Union Hill community while misleading the State Air Pollution Control Board regarding the proposed compressor station site for Dominion Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

“DEQ’s Mike Dowd attempted to discredit the historical significance of the Union Hill community because some 60 to 70 years ago, the descendants of the white slave owners tore down the plantation home where the ancestors of Union Hill residents were enslaved,” Sharon Ponton, BREDL’s Stop the Pipeline Campaign Coordinator, wrote in comments filed with DEQ this week.

Kathie Moseley, BREDL Vice President and Chair of BREDL’s Union Hill Chapter, Concern for the New Generation, stated, “Dominion and DEQ have done their best to ignore our community as if our neighborhood and lives don’t matter. It is time they face the facts—we live here and we won’t be erased so they can build a compressor station.”

Mark Barker, BREDL’s Executive Assistant, shared, “DEQ put improper emphasis on EJScreen, a tool the EPA clearly states has a ‘substantial uncertainty in demographic and environmental data’ and should be supplemented with additional analysis and local knowledge’ in any determination of a community’s Environmental Justice status.”

He continued, “EJScreen relies on American Community Surveys which covers only 4 to 5 percent of the US population on a five-year rolling basis. At best, EPA used the 2012-2016 five-year information for this very small sample which was accessed by the DEQ for its presentation to the SAPCB.”

Barker continued, “While the latest US Census data was rolled out in March 2011 to the states, it offers a much larger, more precise count based on the population of the community. My research indicates a much larger minority population living in the Union Hill community than did the EJ Screen information presented by DEQ’s Air Permitting Division to the SAPCB.”

Ponton concluded, “The attempts to erase the black lives of a predominantly African American community by Dominion and the Commonwealth’s regulatory bodies overseeing the permitting for the pipeline and compressor station has been truly astounding and despicable.”

The entirety of Ponton and Barker’s comments and research may be read at www.bredl.org


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