The Virginia State Conference NAACP took state regulators to task for their recent approval of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). In a press statement released Saturday, the group expressed its concerns with the state’s “refusal to protect our land, water and communities,” with a particular focus on environmental and social costs. The group also focused on specific condemnation for the actions of Governor Ralph Northam and Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler.
“It is well-documented that the permitting processes are flawed, and yet the projects are being allowed to move forward with reckless abandon to our natural environment and communities,” the statement reads.
This criticism came a day after the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality approved a permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, giving the go-ahead to Dominion Energy to begin its 300-mile, state-crossing construction. The ACP will join the already-in-progress Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), and will include a compressor station in Buckingham that has seen specific focus and disapproval for its placement in the historic, majority black Union Hill.
In a statement acknowledging the opposition brought against the pipelines’ completion, Strickler said, “We remain dedicated to holding them to the highest environmental standards possible pursuant to state authorities.”
The VSC NAACP weren’t the only group to call out the Northam administration’s actions. The Virginia Pipeline Resisters released their own statement Monday that followed a similar track in their messaging. Along with disapproval for the statements Northam has made through Strickland, both the Pipeline Resisters and VSC NAACP highlighted the negative impact the MVP and ACP’s construction would have on Virginia’s most vulnerable and marginalized communities — with the latter citing a report conducted by the NAACP and CleanAir Task Force on the wide discrepancies in those at risk to toxic chemical emissions in the United States.
Deriding statements from the Governor and Secretary as “riddled with falsehoods,” the Pipeline Resisters wrote that “despite deceptions from the Northam Administration, the State of Virginia’s regulatory entities can and should prevent any further work on the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines.”
Northam’s approval of the pipelines has proven to a frequent issue, stretching from the gubernatorial campaign trail to the day of his inauguration and well into 2018.
This year has seen both the pipelines and Dominion Energy facing steady criticism from a wide spectrum of voices, from established Democrats like Mark Keam, D-Fairfax, congressional candidates that include Jennifer Lewis, 6th District, and community pushback that extends beyond Virginia state lines.
Northam himself has seen opposition to the pipelines’ construction from within his own administration. The Governor’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice called on the suspension of permit approval for the MVP and ACP in a letter to Northam in August, citing the potential negative consequences for poor, indigenous, brown and black communities in the Commonwealth. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, meanwhile, has been open on his antipathy to the pipelines, meeting with religious and community leaders to discuss the matter in mid-September.
A public hearing on a permit for the ACP compressor station is set for November 8 and 9 in Union Hill, Buckingham.