From Food & Water Watch:
Citing concerns about environment, public health, and inadequate room for public input, legislators speak out against yet another dirty fossil fuel project Virginia Natural Gas is forcing on communities
Richmond, VA — In a sign-on letter released today, 12 Virginia state legislators call on Governor Northam and the State Corporation Commission to deny Virginia Natural Gas’s Header Improvement Project (HIP) a certificate of necessity and any future permits, on the grounds that the fossil fuel project is unnecessary for meeting Virginia’s energy needs and is a danger to the environment and human health.
The Header Improvement Project, a fracked gas infrastructure project including 24 new miles of pipeline and three new compressor stations, has faced backlash both for the negative impacts it would have for Virginia communities, and for the undemocratic way it is being rushed through the approval process without adequate room for public input.
As legislators state in the letter, “Given this project’s inherent risk to human health, the environment, and ratepayers, ensuring public participation is a high priority and a right for those most directly affected. It is of great concern that the SCC has decided not to take significant action to prioritize robust community engagement, but to adhere to the predetermined schedule, at the height of the COVID-19 state outbreak.”
A network of pipelines snakes its way through Virginia, contributing to carbon emissions and wreaking havoc on communities through the pollution and mishaps associated with routine pipeline operations. Virginia is already experiencing the impacts of climate change in the form of heat waves, drought, sea level rise, and superstorms.
“Once again we continue to see business as usual as important decisions are going to be made without the involvement of community stakeholders,” says Delegate Elizabeth Guzman, VA-31 (an impacted district), who led the sign-on effort. “This proposed project will endanger Fauquier and Prince William Counties and their residents; they deserve to have their voices heard and we simply cannot continue to operate our Commonwealth like this any longer.”
“As a Charles City County resident, I am asking that our county not be made a sacrifice zone for merchant power plants to fill their pockets with money,” says Wanda Roberts, representative for the Stop the Abuse of Virginian Energy (SAVE) coalition, which was instrumental in drafting the sign-on letter. “Two proposed fracked gas power plants within one mile of each other, C4GT and Chickahominy, are putting this rural, majority-minority community at tremendous risk. Our county governing body and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality have permitted the C4GT, with little to no notification to our Environmental Justice community. The citizens have been and continue to be shut out of the process. It is time for Virginia Legislators to step up and say ‘NO’ to The Header Improvement Project and the fracked gas power plants.”