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Community discusses ACP permit

Community members gathered at Union Hill Baptist Church in Buckingham on Monday, Aug. 6, to discuss the recently released air permit and engineer analysis issued by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) State Air Pollution Control Board for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline compressor station, proposed to be built in Buckingham County off Route 56.

The permit for the compressor station is considered a minor New Source Review (NSR) air permit, a title designated for facilities where uncontrolled emissions of equipment and process units are above exemption levels detailed by the VDEQ.

The permit included 51 requirements for the compressor station, including that the operations practice proper emission controls, that equipment be installed with the proper monitoring devices, that the appropriate fuel be used and regulated, that the emissions fall within the necessary limits and be properly tested and evaluated.

The VDEQ is seeking public comment on the permit and the analysis. The public comment period began Wednesday and will continue until Sept. 11, when the VDEQ will hold a hearing and take in-person comments at Buckingham County Middle School from 5-9:30 p.m. or until all public comment has been received. Participants must sign up in person to speak during the hearing and can speak for up to three minutes.

“Individuals that wish to make comments during the hearing should bring them in written form to provide to DEQ at the hearing,” the VDEQ website cited.

An interest meeting about the air permit is set to be held Aug. 16 from 6-8 p.m. at the Buckingham County Administration Building at 13360 W. James Anderson Highway. During the meeting, the VDEQ will give a presentation about the air permit. No public comment will be available during the Aug. 16 meeting. Members of the public can, however, ask questions about the permit.

Paul Wilson, pastor of Union Hill Baptist Church and Union Grove Baptist Church, led the group of approximately 40 Monday participants in a prayer and cited that the group would act as a voice for nature and to each other in opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP).

“People are more important,” Wilson said in comparison to industry. “No one has the right or the authority to threaten or put in harm’s way or danger air or life.”

Audience members were able to ask questions during the meeting.

Laura Mack, with Appalachian Voices, a nonprofit that advocates for environmental protection of rural communities, led the discussion and encouraged people to brainstorm ways to generate more community involvement for the public comment period.

“This is hugely important to this community, the topic of compressor station and the pipeline,” Mack said.

Billy Davies, Virginia chapter’s pipelines community outreach coordinator with environmental organization Sierra Club, detailed the process of the public comment

“You all have power,” Davies said. “We’re hoping that you’ll see in this process, in the details we’re about to share with you … how we can together effectively utilize that power to make that change for the betterment of our community.”

About the Aug. 16 presentation, Davies said it presents an opportunity for participants “to make sure that DEQ, the government, is fulfilling its obligation to the community, to the state under state and federal law.”

Davies said after Sept. 11, the VDEQ will review each comment it receives, and will make a response approximately 30 days after the public comment period closes.

Charles White, of Buckingham, asked if board of supervisor members would be present at the meetings.

Mack encouraged audience members to ask county officials to attend the meetings.

Jeeva Abbate, with Yogaville, referenced a recent community meeting in which Dominion Energy representatives presented information about the compressor station. He said the meeting generated concerns about potential miscommunication between ACP representatives about the station and about the validity of their testing equipment.

“We have some serious questions about this ‘new’ technology, how clean everything is going to be, and so on,” Abbate said.

Flint Webb, of Fairfax, said he has a background in writing permit applications and said there are several classes of pollutants the permit will seek to gauge in reference to the compressor station.

He said the permit appears to model project annual emissions, but did not appear to examine peak hourly emissions.

“Some of those pollutants have had acute effects, and they should be modeling it as … peak emissions,” Webb said.

Wilson asked how much participants can expect a credible engineering analysis regarding the compressor station.

At the end of the meeting, Mack and Davies encouraged people to meet with people sitting in the same row, and brainstorm ideas of how to best proceed with monitoring or responding to the upcoming meetings and ACP’s activities. Audience members’ suggestions included handing out desserts and information about the upcoming meetings at area supermarkets and creating ridesharing programs to transport people to and from meetings.

After the meeting, participants held a potluck supper in the church basement.

VDEQ cited in a public notice that it accepts comments by hand-delivery, email, fax or postal mail. All comments and requests must be in writing and be received by DEQ between now and Sept. 11. The comments must include the names, mailing addresses and telephone numbers of the commenter/requester and of all persons represented by the commenter/requester. The applicant name and registration number for the compressor station is Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC; 21599.

Ann Regn, the VDEQ contact for the permit, can be reached at (804) 698-4442; Piedmont Regional Office, RE: Buckingham Compressor Station, 4949-A Cox Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060; airdivision1@deq.virginia.gov and by fax at (804) 527-5106.