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Making information accessible

A number of questions and issues were asked by Buckingham residents and residents of counties across Virginia during a public hearing by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s State Air Control Board for the draft air permit for the more than 57,000-horsepower compressor station.

One issue that surfaced was that residents who didn’t have access to internet had to wait until Aug. 24 for a print copy of the draft air permit to be available at the Buckingham Branch Library. Patrick Corbett, air toxics coordinator, said a hard copy is available at the regional office located in Glen Allen. He also said the DEQ placed the hard copy in the library after concerns about the lack of internet access in large portions of Buckingham County.

Considering that Buckingham County, particularly the Union Hill community is the proposed site for this compressor station, it’s important that a print copy of the permit is now accessible, but perhaps more could have been done to make sure that those who live closest to the proposed compressor station had the necessary information at hand by the state and the county.

There’s a number of ways to solve this. Improving internet access, making more concerted efforts to visit and provide information for people nearest the compressor, and making sure that residents in the community have consistent opportunities to make their voices heard. While making sure people are informed is important, it would also benefit county and state agencies to seriously consider and address the questions and statements made by the residents, the majority who are African-American, who live close to the compressor station about potential health and environmental impacts, as well as statements that their voices, through this process, have not mattered.