Community leaders and opponents of the the $6 billion, 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline project held a telepress conference with members of the media on Sept. 10.
The conference was a collaboration between Global Justice Ecology Project, Friends of Buckingham and Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative. See a full list of presenters with their biographies below.
The conference audio is available on Soundcloud and YouTube below:
Some highlight quotes:
“We’re here today to speak out against the discounting of the lives that are there [in Union Hill]. There are 6 public schools, including 5 elementary schools and the school board was not notified about the compressor station. We know that it will mean 100% contamination of the water sources. And Water is life. How are we going to live if we don’t have fresh clean water to drink? This is just another example of how the marginalized front line communities are discounted. When Dominion Energy went in to get the permit [for the pipeline] they just acted as though that population [in Union Hill] didn’t exist. Then they come in and they offer 1,000 jobs to kill 100,000 people. We cannot continue to allow this.”Queen Rafiqa Zakia Shabazz
“I’d like to close with a brief prayer. It’s an Arabic prayer and loosely translated it means we seek refuge and protection from Shay-tan the curse devil, and in this instance, Dominion would be the devil.”Queen Rafiqa Zakia Shabazz
“This is a never-ending saga in Virginia, where big business preys on the marginalized and those without a voice. And it’s high time that this stops. I am a fifth-generation Harper. Taylor Harper was a former slave who received my family’s land in 1893. Last Thursday surveyors came on our land to figure out where the easement that Dominion is looking to take for the pipeline would go. We’re currently in court over the easement, but they are looking at Eminent Domain. I will fight it to the end. Governor Northam could stop this with an executive order, and he needs to do this. I will not allow this to affect my family members. I have a big problem with just allowing these folks to come in and destroy our history.”Richard Walker, Bridging the Gap
Beth Roach is a Community Organizer with Mothers Out Front, an enrolled member of the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia, and a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice.
Chad Oba is co-founder and Chair of Friends of Buckingham and lives approximately one mile from the site of the proposed Union Hill Compressor Station. She is a mental health professional who has worked with families in Buckingham for the last 25 years.
Dr. Mary Finley-Brook is an Associate Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Richmond, a member of the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative, and a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice.
Queen Rafiqa Zakia Shabazz is an author, educator, lecturer, wife and mother of six. In 1996 Mrs. Shabazz discovered that her young son had been poisoned by lead. This prompted her to establish the Virginia Chapter of United Parents Against Lead (UPAL) and to write an account of her family’s struggles with lead poisoning in a book entitled, A Child is a Terrible Thing to Waste. She also is the coordinator of the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative, which represents eighteen civil rights, environmental, educational, faith-based, and grassroots organizations across the Commonwealth.
Richard Walker, CEO and founder of Bridging the Gap in Virginia, is originally from Buckingham and an advocate for the defense of his Freedman family’s land and heritage. He is the fifth generation of Freed Slaves from a Union Hill family that has owned land there since 1885.
Orin Langelle, Moderator, is from Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP), a non-profit organization that works nationally and internationally on the intersection of social, ecological, and economic issues. GJEP supports Indigenous Peoples’ rights, is involved in forest protection, is the coordinating body of the international Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees and is an outspoken advocate for Climate Justice. GJEP co-founded the Durban Group for Climate Justice (Durban, S. Africa, 2004), Climate Justice Now! (Bali Indonesia, 2007), Climate Justice Action (Copenhagen, Denmark, 2008) and is a founding member of Climate Justice Alliance (U.S. since 2013). GJEP also amplifies the voices of front line communities fighting the impacts of climate change, the fossil fuels industry and land grabs linked to false solutions to climate change.