Opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have one last chance to stop the project through state regulation when the Air Pollution Control Board meets at 10 a.m. Tuesday, January 8 in Midlothian's Doubletree Hotel . They hope the board will refuse a permit for the compressor station needed to push gas through the line.
When the board met in November, it was supposed to vote on whether to approve compressor station construction in Buckingham, but the Sierra Club’s Jessica Simms says some members raised concerns:
"That day a motion was made to postpone the hearing," she recalls. "During that interim Governor Northam removed two members of the Air Board from their positions."
After a public outcry, Northam said the new people he appointed would not vote on this project, so the decision will fall to four other members. They must consider the possibility of air pollution from the compressor – which state regulators say would not exceed safe limits set by the EPA, and they must decide if it’s fair to build the compressor station in a low-income, African-American community. The pipeline’s main builder – Dominion – looked at census data for the area and dismissed that issue, but the Sierra Club’s Gustavo Angeles says there’s more recent data than the 2010 census.
"Another study has been done recently, door to door to get more specific data, and you can see this is a majority African-American community," he explains.
If the Air Board issues a permit opponents say they’ll ask the Water Quality Board to reconsider its permit in light of erosion problems linked to the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
"Currently the Mountain Valley Pipeline has over 300 violations that have been documented that are part of a lawsuit brought by Attorney General Mark Herring," Simms says.
Lawsuits against the project could also block the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.