For Immediate Release August 16, 2018
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Council letter highlights concerns of environmental racism and unfair impact on poor by project seen as a priority of the Trump administration
Virginia—Governor Ralph Northam’s (D-VA) Advisory Council on Environmental Justice (ACEJ) raised significant concerns and has called for a stay on all further permits for on the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).
The VA Governor’s Advisory Council also recommends an Emergency Task Force on Environmental Justice in Gas Infrastructure to review and address the evidence it has found of “disproportionate impacts for people of color and for low-income populations due to gas infrastructure expansion.”
“The call for a review of the ACP’s disproportionate impact on people of color, and in particular the population of Union Hill, Virginia is a very significant finding by the Governor’s own Advisory Council,” said Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project who obtained a copy of the letter. “Not only is the project a threat to the natural ecology of Virginia it threatens the historic ‘freedman community’ of Union Hill.”
The ACP has a controversial history in part because it was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), while only three of its five seats where filled by seated commissioners during the agencies approval of the pipeline, which was seen as a priority of President Trump’s new administration. The approval drew criticism at the time from both of Virginia’s Senator’s Tim Kaine (D) and Mark Warner (D).
The Governor’s own advisory council on environmental justice is calling for an immediate halt to ACP and MVP until
evidence of significant environmental degradation and environmental justice concerns are addressed and resolved.
ACEJ council member, Tom Benevento, of the New Community Project said, “I am hopeful that the ACEJ recommendation for a holistic quantitative risk assessment will be taken for what it is, which is a call for a strong assessment of public health and safety risks, which have yet to be adequately addressed,” stated Benevento.
The Reverend Dr. Faith Harris of Virginia Interfaith Power and Light, also a member of the Council, notes that Virginian Energy Policy promises to develop “energy resources and facilities in a manner that does not impose a disproportionate adverse impact on economically disadvantaged or minority communities.” Dr. Harris points out that despite the state’s Energy Policy, the ACP and Buckingham Compressor, which disproportionately impacts minority and poor communities, are in final stages of permitting. This contradiction leads Reverend Dr. Harris to call for a “complete review of permitting policies and procedures to ensure that poor, indigenous, brown and/or black communities do not bear an unequal burden of environmental pollutants and life-altering disruptions.”
Dr. Mary Finley-Brook, a member of the council states that, “Given the evidence the Advisory Council cites in the letter, it is clear that if the Governor and state regulators are committed to environmental safety and justice they must put an immediate halt to Union Hill Compressor Station and ACP permitting until community risks and safety concerns can be addressed in a meaningful way.”
The ACP continues to draw public opposition with the start of a 30-day public comment period on the Union Hill Compressor Station. The comment period terminates at an air permit hearing in Buckingham County on September 11. Toxic compressor station emissions bring a wide range of public health impacts, including respiratory, gastrointestinal, and endocrine damage.
Read the letter from Governor’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice here: https://www.globaljusticenews.com/single-post/2018/08/12/Letter-by-Governor-Northams-Environmental-Justice-Council
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