Residents speak out against proposed Buckingham Compressor Station for Atlantic Coast Pipeline

virginia logoAt last night’s Virginia Air Pollution Control Board public hearing, more than 150 people attended and over 60 Virginians spoke out against the proposed Buckingham Compressor Station, which would pump fracked gas through Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The station would run at 54,000 horsepower, roughly equivalent in loudness to a jet engine, all day every day. Facilities like this pollute the air with nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter and are linked to severe respiratory and cardiovascular ailments as well as cancer.

“The State Air Pollution Control Board has the power to deny this permit and send Dominion back to the drawing board,” Billy Davies, Pipelines Community Outreach Coordinator at the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, said. “The overwhelming opposition from last night’s hearing shows the need to take a hard look at the devastating impacts this fracked gas compressor station will have on human health and the environment.”

Dominion’s current proposed location for the compressor station is in the Union Hill community, a rural, low-income, mostly African-American community, where residents are less likely to have the resources to pursue legal challenges. Accordingly, community advocates have sounded the alarm on environmental justice concerns.

“The draft permit does not adequately explain how the air quality and health of these residents, many of whom already suffer from chronic health problems, will be protected over time from the compressor station’s harmful emissions,” Alexis Szepesy, Environmental Justice Chair for the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, said. “By letting the permit stand as is and allowing the compressor station to be built, the Air Board would be allowing this community to bear a disproportionate burden of environmental harm. It is a flagrant example of environmental racism.”

The Virginia Energy Plan lists as one of the objectives of the Commonwealth Energy Policy to develop energy resources and facilities in a manner that does not impose a disproportionate adverse impact on economically disadvantaged or marginalized communities.

“This compressor station, like the pipeline itself, is unneeded and poses direct environmental and economic threats to Virginians,” Kate Addleson, Director of the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, said. “We as a commonwealth should instead prioritize the use of energy efficiency and clean renewable energy sources that protect our communities and the climate.”

On Monday, the Department of Environmental Quality responded to overwhelming public pressure and extended the deadline for public comments on the permit to September 21.

Public comments can be submitted online at vasierra.club/buckingham.

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