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Letter to New Virginia Air Board Member: “We ask that you refrain from completing the swearing in process before the December 10th meeting.”

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From the  Virginia Student Environmental Coalition, Charlottesville:

This morning students from Virginia Student Environmental Coalition, Charlottesville are visiting the office of Dr. Kajal Kapur, one of the proposed replacements for the State Air Pollution Board to deliver this letter asking them to refrain from completing the swearing-in process for the State Air Pollution Control Board before the December 10th vote on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Buckingham Compressor Station.

Article referenced: https://www.virginiamercury.com/…/governor-wont-seat-new-a…/

Full letter text: 
Dear Dr. Kajal Kapur,

We are writing in regards to your recent appointment to the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board (APCB) and its implications for the Board’s upcoming vote on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. We ask that you refrain from completing the swearing in process before the December 10th meeting.

On November 8th, community members and supporters of the Union Hill community gave their testimony in front of the Board regarding the proposed Buckingham Compressor station site for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. The folks that stood in front of the six board members that day had already told their story countless times to countless local and state boards, but they did so again, putting faith in a Board tasked with protecting the well-being of the very air they breathe.

The next day, two board members stood out in their persistent and clear questioning of the legal and technical bases for the permit proposed by the Department of Environmental Quality. Based on concerns raised by these and other members, the Board postponed the final vote on the permit until December 10. Days later, Governor Northam announced these two members, Rebecca Rubin and Samuel Bleicher, would be removed from the Board. In doing so, the Governor seems to be trying to prevent these members of an independent citizens board from acting on their deliberations and valid concerns, in order to attain a favorable vote for Dominion Energy and the advancement of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project.

The Governor’s office has stated that you will not be seated on the Board before the upcoming meeting but will be sworn in “shortly” (See Virginia Mercury article), meaning you will not be able to vote on the permit but also blocking current members from voting. Legal precedents indicate that Board members retain their powers to act until replaced by new members. It appears the Governor is manipulating this process specifically to block Ms. Rubin and Mr. Bleicher from voting on December 10. We encourage you to help preserve the independence of this citizen board and the integrity of this regulatory process.

Your power lies in your ability to refrain from being sworn in before the December 10th vote. We strongly encourage you to exercise that power in the interest of a just and fair process for the people of Buckingham., The former board members must be given the opportunity to serve on December 10th; to vote in accordance with their professional opinions informed by hours of testimony from impacted community members, lawyers, and scientists. We, the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition, believe that you must refrain from completing the swearing-in process for the State Air Pollution Control Board before the December 10th vote on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Buckingham Compressor Station.

Thank you for your consideration. 

Sincerely, 

The Virginia Student Environmental Coalition on behalf of young people from Northern Virginia Community College, University of Mary Washington, University of Virginia, College of William & Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, Piedmont Valley Community College, Hollins University, Roanoke College, Virginia Tech and George Mason University.

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