Court rules against pipeline developers in a win for residents of Union Hill, VA

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Photo by Ellen Kanzinger

Read more about the story of Union Hill, Va HERE

On Tuesday, Virginia’s Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in a case that called into question the legality of placing a compressor station in the Union Hill neighborhood, home to many descendants of formerly enslaved people. 

Friends of Buckingham and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Inc. challenged the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board’s award of a permit to build a compressor station for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in the predominately African-American community of Union Hill. The petitioners contended that the board erred in failing to consider electric turbines as zero-emission alternatives to gas-fired turbines in the compressor station. They also argued that the board failed in assessing the compressor station’s potential for disproportionate health impacts to the community of Union Hill.

“We are very happy with the court’s decision,” Friends of Buckingham president and Union Hill resident Chad Oba told the Southern Environmental Law Center. “Five years ago, Dominion told us that there was going to be a compressor station in Union Hill and there was nothing we could do about it. That’s not fair, and it’s not American. Today we showed that our community, our community’s history, and our community’s future matters more than a pipeline.”

In its decision, the court said that the board “failed to grapple with the likelihood that those living closest to the compressor station—an overwhelmingly minority population according to the Friends of Buckingham Survey—will be affected more than those living in other parts of the same county. The board rejected the idea of disproportionate impact on the basis that air quality standards were met. But environmental justice is not merely a box to be checked, and the board’s failure to consider the disproportionate impact on those closest to the compressor station resulted in a flawed analysis.”

This is the eighth time since May 2018 that a federal court or federal agency has revoked or suspended a permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Because of the hurdles they have encountered, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy stopped all construction of the pipeline more than a year ago, with less than 6 percent of pipe in the ground. 

Read the full story here: and the court decision here:

Read more about the story of Union Hill, Va HERE


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