Residents of Union Hill today sent an open letter to the members of the State Air Pollution Control Board urging them to deny the proposed permit for a natural gas compressor station in this predominantly African-American community in rural Buckingham County, Va.
The letter is signed in solidarity by 100 people, including Karenna Gore, director of the Center for Earth Ethics, Tim Guinee, actor and chair of the Climate Reality Hudson Valley Chapter, actors Don Cheadle and Ed Begley, Jr., Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., president of the Hip Hop Caucus, dozens of impacted community residents. It was also signed by Appalachian Voices and many other organizations that represent thousands of Virginians, environmental justice advocates, clean energy supporters and climate activists. (Here is a PDF version of the letter.)
The letter notes that the potential siting of a massive industrial, polluting facility in this community exemplifies a systemic pattern of environmental racism that occurs in low-income communities of color across the country. The compressor station is part of the proposed 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline that has emerged as one of the most controversial projects in the region.
The signers call out Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and his administration for recent actions to interfere with the decision-making process of the air board, which is charged with making independent evaluations and decisions to ensure the public interest is prioritized over private corporate interests.
The signers are Pastor Paul Wilson, Union Hill Union Grove Baptist Church; Chad Oba, president of Friends of Buckingham, and Lakshmi Fjord, anthropologist and Union Hill historian.
The letter urges the board to allow the public to speak at its December 10 scheduled meeting, before any vote on the permit is taken, and to deny the permit. Their letter concludes: “The legacy of placing toxic facilities in places where they disproportionately affect poor communities of color is unjust and unacceptable and needs acute examination. It is not right to look the other way while this continues.”
Chad Oba, 434-806-6332, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pastor Paul Wilson, 804-356-4288, email@example.com
Cat McCue, Appalachian Voices, Communications Director, 434-953-8672, firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: Contact Cat McCue to arrange interviews with Karenna Gore