Richmond, VA — The Sierra Club and Appalachian Voices, represented by Appalachian Mountain Advocates, moved to intervene in a lawsuit to help defend the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board’s denial of an air permit for the proposed Lambert Compressor station. If built, the station would connect the beleaguered Mountain Valley Pipeline to the proposed “Southgate” extension into North Carolina. The conservation groups filed the motion in response to a lawsuit by the Mountain Valley Pipeline that seeks to reverse the board’s decision.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline has already subjected nearby communities to disproportionate health impacts, and if the permit had been granted, communities would be exposed to additional air emissions of carbon monoxide, fine particulate matter, and formaldehyde — substances known to contribute to respiratory problems, heart disease and cancer.
The board’s decision reflected two major concerns with the project. First, the board acknowledged that an additional industrial facility would degrade air quality in the region. The board also cited the lack of a thorough environmental justice study, including identification of and outreach to people of color and/or low income people living within three to five miles of the proposed Lambert Compressor Station site.
More than three years behind schedule, barely half-complete to full restoration, and billions over budget, the MVP mainline project continues to face legal challenges. Last week, in a major setback for the project, the 4th Circuit vacated Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management decisions allowing the pipeline to cross the Jefferson National Forest despite the agencies’ failure to consider sedimentation and erosion impacts. Some analysts say this could push the proposed MVP back another year, throwing the whole project into question.
“The environmental justice concerns around the proposed Lambert Compressor Station are more real than ever,” Sierra Club Senior Organizer Caroline Hansley said. “Given there are four environmental justice communities who have been identified within a 3-5 mile radius of the site, the compressor station would have a tremendous impact on public health. These frontline communities have said loud and clear that they do not want or need this fracked gas infrastructure. We applaud the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board’s denial of this air permit for the proposed station and hope that they continue to listen to those most impacted.”
“Mountain Valley Pipeline sought to increase air pollution in a locality already burdened with several existing sources of air toxins and the company’s request was appropriately denied,” said Jessica Sims, Virginia Field Coordinator for Appalachian Voices. “Preventing the disproportionate impacts communities face from harmful fossil fuel infrastructure is not only of vital importance, it is a legal requirement.”
Appalachian Voices is a leading nonprofit advocate for a healthy environment and just economy in the Appalachian region, and a driving force in America’s shift from fossil fuels to a clean energy future.