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Faith and Community Leaders Meeting with Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax on Pipelines and Union Hill/Buckingham Compressor Station

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See the press release, below, and note that it’s LOOONG past time for LG Justin Fairfax and other top Virginia leaders to come out strongly against these environmentally destructive, economically nonsensical pipelines.

Faith and Community Leaders to Meet with Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax to Urge Action to Stop Proposed Pipelines and Union Hill/Buckingham Compressor Station

RICHMOND – On Tuesday, September 18, 2018, a delegation of faith and community leaders will meet with Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax to urge him to add his powerful voice to the movement to stop the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) as well as a compressor station proposed for the ACP for Union Hill, a historic, predominantly African American community in Buckingham County.  The delegation will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m., following their meeting.  Details are below.

The delegation will be led by Pastor Paul Wilson of the Union Hill and Union Grove Missionary Baptist Churches, Swami Dayananda, spiritual leader of the Light of Truth Universal Shrine at Yogaville and Kevin Chandler, President, Virginia State Conference NAACP.  The delegation also will include Karen Campblin, Chair, Virginia State Conference NAACP Environmental Climate Justice Committee, John and Ruby Laury, Landowners, Union Hill, Heidi Dhivya Berthoud, Secretary and Baseline Testing Project Manager for Friends of Buckingham, Trish McLawhorn, Co-Founder, New River Valley Land, Air and Water Watch, and Beth Deel, Vice Chair, Roanoke City Democratic Committee and Representative, Preserve Bent Mountain.

Recent news reports, testimony, photographs and more than 13,000 public comments presented to the State Water Control Board in August have confirmed residents’ worst fears as to the damage that erosion and sedimentation released by construction of these pipelines would cause to the more than 1,100 rivers and streams that would have to be crossed.  Further damage is expected to occur to the Mountain Valley Pipeline route in particular as a result of rain and flooding from Hurricane Florence, threatening the drinking water for hundreds of thousands of residents of Southwest Virginia.

These faith and community leaders therefore will ask the Lieutenant Governor to use his good offices to request that Governor Ralph Northam direct the Department of Environmental Quality to begin the process of revoking the blanket permits previously issued under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act and instead conduct a stream by stream analysis of both pipeline routes, something Northam promised when he was a candidate for Governor.

The leaders are hopeful that the Lieutenant Governor will respond positively to their plea.  In 2017, Fairfax stated: “I don’t believe the case has been made for the pipelines, so I’ve come out against the pipelines for that reason.”  Fairfax explained his opposition was based on “the damage that the pipelines can do both environmentally to areas in southwest Virginia” as well as property rights that “would be violated.”

The delegation will note that the Governor’s own Advisory Council on Environmental Justice and the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP have called for a halt to all construction activities for both pipelines as well as suspension of the air quality permit process for the Union Hill compressor station.

Ruby Laury, a member of the delegation, recently testified before the State Air Pollution Control Board and noted that state agencies have thus far ignored the long term health effects that the proposed compressor station would have on her community: “We do matter.  You people have looked over us as if we don’t exist.”

The meeting with Fairfax comes at an opportune time.  Recent court decisions have resulted in revoked permits for portions of both the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and many legal and regulatory challenges remain unresolved.  In addition, the State Water Control Board is holding a public meeting on September 20 and the public comment period on the Union Hill compressor station does not close until September 21.

Moreover, on September 26, Richmond will host the national Poor Peoples Campaign:  A National Call for Moral Revival, the call for which notes that these pipelines “will lock us into dirty energy generation for decades to come” while “the Union Hill Compressor station will spew poisons into the air and water of an historic freedman community causing breathing related diseases for the elderly and young while destroying property value.”

The faith and community leaders are hopeful that the Lieutenant Governor will conclude that the time to speak out is now.

The press conference will be held as follows:

Date:  Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Time: 2:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.
Location: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
                        815 E. Grace Street
                        Richmond, Va. 23219