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Charlottesville Protest Air Quality Board Changes

Two dozen people braved a cold, windy afternoon to protest in front of Dominion’s office in Charlottesville. 

Standing along one of this city’s busiest streets at lunch time, protesters demanded Governor Northam re-instate two opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline who were recently removed from the Air Quality Board.  Freeman Alan took the occasion to compose an epic poem.

“Environment justice laws are being ignored. 

Now Northam’s fired his air pollution board . 

Governor Northam, your science board said STOP. 

You ignored their warning.  Corruption at the top.”

Others, like Robin Leucke, complained that the utility plans to build a massive compressor station in Union Hill – a small, predominantly African-American community.

“This is an issue of structural racism," she charged. "They picked that place very intentionally.”

And Maya Stewart-Silver objects to customers funding a pipeline they don’t want.

“It’s really outrageous that Dominion is going to be asking us as ratepayers to be paying for this,” she said.

When the group moved onto Dominion’s property police were called, and demonstrators moved to the public sidewalk rather than be charged with trespassing, but Alan vowed to risk arrest in future.

“We intend to go out if we need to and lie in the trenches along this pipeline,” he warned.

The group intends to return to Dominion's Charlottesville office on Hydraulic Road at 11:30 December 5th to protest again.  

In a separate interview, Governor Ralph Northam says he’s not trying to play games with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and he wants the permitting process to be fair.

The Governor was speaking on WTOP radio Wednesday, responding to criticism that he removed two members of the Air Pollution Control Board before a critical vote on a compressor station for the pipeline planned for Buckingham County.

"I know there have been a lot of questions about the timing," Northam admitted.  "But, again, these terms expired back in June. There were well qualified people who were willing to work on these boards.  And, you know, they were scheduled to take a vote in November.  This process didn't just pop up overnight.  They chose not to take that vote.  We had planned to make those changes and that's what we did."

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief
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