NO Compressor Station = NO Atlantic Coast Pipeline
Andrew Tyler, from the Cherokee and Pamunkey nations and a representative of the Coalition of Woodland Nations, gave words of support to local residents and discussed the importance of fighting pipelines across the country for native peoples before the public hearing started.
On Monday, September 26, the Buckingham County Planning Commission held a public hearing about the special use permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s 57,000-horsepower compressor station. Duke Energy and Dominion’s joint project, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline or ACP, is proposed to carry fracked gas 600 miles from West Virginia, through Virginia, into North Carolina. The ACP’s three proposed compressor stations would run engines 24/7 to provide the pressure to push the gas through the pipeline. This permit would allow for huge industrial construction in an otherwise very rural and agricultural community and county. If approval for the construction of these compressor stations is denied, it would severely impact the viability of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project overall.
Dominion has already purchased the land for its Buckingham compressor station from plantation-owner descendants in a largely black historic community called Union Hill. During the last two years of the fight against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Buckingham County received much less media attention than other counties fighting the ACP. When we held a press conference before the public hearing, only one reporter attended from a local newspaper in a neighboring county.
This is an environmental racism and justice issue at the core. If built, this compressor station would be one of the largest in the country. Surrounding communities would be impacted by this large industrial site in numerous ways: noise pollution, a severe drop in air quality, and significant air pollution that would greatly impact public health. Dominion is doing its best to take advantage of a historically marginalized, low income, rural and isolated community by locating the compressor station in an area where people are less likely to have the resources to resist. Despite Dominion’s efforts, word is getting out about Buckingham’s fight. Friends and neighbors are rallying to support the effort against the pipeline there.
Members of the Buckingham County Planning Commission look over a packed room of people speaking out against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline compressor station.
The public hearing on Sept. 26 served as an opportunity for those of us working against the pipeline to support Buckingham residents on the ground. Local folks, neighboring activists and friends flooded the County Administration Building with almost all attendees wearing “No Compressor Station” stickers to give the planning commission a clear sign of where we stood on the issue.
Fifty-four people signed up to give public comment, nearly all of them local residents concerned about the potential compressor station. The lineup of public comments lasted so long that the planning commission set up another meeting to hear the rest of the community input. This means that we also delayed the progress of the compressor station a couple more months. The planning commission will hear the rest of the public comments on October 17 and will eventually give a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. At that point, the Board of Supervisors will make a final decision on whether or not to allow Dominion the special use permit to build the compressor station.
Allies from Richmond hold up a supportive message to Buckingham County: Heart of Virginia, we’ve got your back.”
Though a lot of work needs to continue to support and amplify the most marginalized voices in Buckingham and along the ACP, local residents appreciated the show of support and were invigorated by the strong presence against the compressor station.“It was amazingly heartening and inspiring to see all the people that showed up,” said Chad Oba, a resident of Buckingham County and member of Friends of Buckingham. “Everytime we come together it gives us all energy to keep the momentum going and it sends a message that we are here and we care about what happens to our air, our water, our homeplaces and all that we hold dear.”
Protecting the Central and Southern Appalachian Mountain Region