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Community featured at conference

Residents of Buckingham County and the Union Hill community participated in a conference Sept. 26 where they voiced concern and calls to action in reference to the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) compressor station.

The Poor People’s Hearing, held in Richmond, was sponsored by the Virginia Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, an organization that advocates for social justice and income equality inspired by the Poor People’s Campaign, or Poor People’s March on Washington, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

Members of the Union Hill Community spoke about environmental justice concerns related to the compressor station that its placement is located in a historically African-American area, a former plantation with unmarked gravesites and where freed African-Americans and their descendents resided and currently reside.

Chad Oba with Friends of Buckingham spoke during the hearing about first hearing of the pipeline in 2014.

One member of the audience confirmed that he and his family resided in the Union Hill area.

Oba said those descendents would have a significantly diminished land and home value due to the pipeline’s proximity.

“This is wrong,” Oba said.

Oba spoke about frustrations at the community and state level, and from Dominion Energy.

“We are being sacrificed, and the response from our state government is to ignore us,” Oba said.

Representatives of the community expressed concerns about potential safety and health impacts of the 57,783-horsepower compressor station from chemical emissions.

“Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline has targeted my community as the site of the only compressor station in Virginia for a 600-mile, 42-inch fracked gas pipeline,” Oba said. “Because we’re rural, of lower or modest incomes, and because their expectation was that we would not be able to fight back.”

“They were wrong,” Oba said as audience members applauded.

PIPELINE NEWS

The Federal Energy Regulation Committee (FERC) recently reauthorized the construction of the ACP after a stop work order was given earlier in the year.

The National Park Service reissued a right of way permit to cross beneath the Blue Ridge Parkway between Augusta and Nelson counties. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a new biological opinion that affirmed the project would not jeopardize the existence of more than half a dozen endangered or threatened species in its path.

The decision to lift the ban would only apply to work taking place on the pipeline in North Carolina and West Virginia, as the state water quality permit in Virginia depends on approval of erosion and sediment control plans that remain under regulatory review.

A proposed draft air quality permit from ACP was submitted to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The air 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 DEQ’s State Air Pollution Control Board held a public hearing on the draft permit Sept. 11 where more than 80 members of the public spoke and submitted written comments to the board to consider.

The deadline for the public comment period for the draft permit was Sept. 21.

The Buckingham Planning Commission voted to table a proposal for a 20-unit campground at Willow Lake Road near the compressor station site due to the applicant being unavailable to answer questions given by audience members and commission members.