Press Release, December 22, 2021| December 22, 2021
RICHMOND, Va. Today the Virginia State Corporation Commission rejected plans from Chickahominy Pipeline, LLC, to construct an unregulated gas pipeline 83 miles from Louisa County to a proposed gas-fired power plant in Charles City County, instead determining that the company is a public utility subject to Commission regulation. The Southern Environmental Law Center represented Concerned Citizens of Charles City County as well as Hanover Citizens Against A Pipeline and Appalachian Voices.
The Chickahominy Pipeline would be a backwards-looking investment in so-called ‘natural’ gas at a time when Virginia has committed to a clean, zero-carbon energy grid, said SELC Senior Attorney Greg Buppert. The Commissions full oversight of this climate-warming project is necessary to protect the public interest.
The proposed pipeline would have serviced the as-yet-unbuilt Chickahominy Power Station, a 1600-megawatt power plant that, if constructed, would be one of the largest gas plants in the state. Virginia environmental regulators approved an air pollution permit in 2019 for the plant over the objections of local residents in Charles City County, many of whom were not allowed to speak during a final hearing on the project.
Since 2019, Charles City County residents have been demanding more accountability and transparency because we believe that communities should be able to protect themselves from dangerous infrastructure like this pipeline and the gas plant it is intended to feed, said Wanda Roberts of C5. We’re very grateful that the Commission agreed with us that the Chickahominy Pipeline cannot operate without regulatory oversight, and we ardently hope these unpopular projects are cancelled.
After years of rubber-stamp approvals by regulators, the Chickahominy pipeline is the latest to be halted in Virginia. Dominion Energy canceled the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in 2020 after it lost many of its required permits before the court. The Virginia Air Pollution Control Board had denied a permit for Lambert Compressor Station earlier this year. This would have supported an extension of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, called MVP Southgate.
The decision to regulate proposed projects like the Chickahominy pipeline is common sense, said Appalachian Voices’ Virginia Policy Director Peter Anderson. These proposals should be carefully examined, as they have extremely high costs for both the climate and the communities directly impacted.
The Commonwealth will completely eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from its power sector by 2050 under the Virginia Clean Economy Act, in less than 30 years but new gas projects like the Chickahominy Pipeline mean decades of additional greenhouse gas emissions.
It is contemptible that Chickahominy Pipeline developers tried to avoid the Commissions process and deny Virginians a voice in a major project in their backyard. This victory means people living in the path of the pipeline will have a greater say in a proposal that threatens their way of life, said Chesapeake Bay Foundation Environmental Justice Staff Attorney Taylor Lilley. Because the Commission asserted its jurisdiction over the Chickahominy Pipeline, there will be a more thorough state and public review that could prevent harm to the environment and nearby communities, while taking environmental justice into account.
The pipeline could also have serious consequences for landowners along its route. It would require clearing, trenching and blasting across hundreds private properties. The Commission’s oversight is crucial to determine if a project such as this is really necessary before landowners or the environment are affected.
We are grateful to everyone for their efforts to stop the dangerous prospect of unregulated gas transmissions through the heart of Virginia. Catharine Tucker from Hanover Citizens Against A Pipeline, a citizen group that monitors the Chickahominy Pipeline, said Catharine Tucker. We will continue to be vigilant and address any further attempts by Chickahominy in pursuit of this unnecessary pipeline.
Concerned Citizens of Charles City CountyC5 is an association of citizens formed in response to proposals for Chickahominy Power Station (C4GT) and Charles City County’s C4GT power plants. These proposals were made with minimal involvement from residents living in predominantly Black areas near the proposed sites. C5 works with Charles City County residents in order to keep them informed. They provide adequate notice and have the opportunity to get information on environmental issues that could affect them. C5 works to empower citizens with as many information as possible to help them make informed decisions and give them the opportunity to speak up.
Hanover Citizens Against A PipelineThis association consists of landowners who were notified that their property was in the Chickahominy Pipeline’s path. It also includes residents of Hanover County and nearby counties concerned about the project. This association supports Hanover County landowners who are potentially affected, as well as potential landowners in nearby counties who are also affected by the proposed Chickahominy Pipeline.
Appalachian VoicesSince over 20 years, the organization has been a regional grassroots advocate to promote healthy communities and protect the environment. The nonprofit organization is a leading force in Appalachia’s shift from fossil fuels to clean energy and a just future, with offices in Boone and Durham, North Carolina; Charlottesville and Norton, Virginia; and Knoxville, Tennessee. appvoices.org
The Chesapeake Bay FoundationThe mission of CBF is to Save the Bay and keep it safe. CBF is dedicated to restoring the Chesapeake Bay watershed, protecting the livelihoods of those who live in and around it, through advocacy, education, litigation and restoration efforts. CBF has 300,000 members in the United States and offices in Annapolis, Easton, Virginia Beach, Virginia, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. Cbf.org
The Southern Environmental Law CenterThe South is home to one of the nation’s most powerful environmental defenders. SELC has a long track record of tackling environmental issues in court, in government and in communities to protect air, water and climate as well as wildlife, lands and people. Nonprofit and nonpartisan, the organization has a staff of 170, including 90 attorneys, and is headquartered in Charlottesville, Va., with offices in Asheville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Chapel Hill, Charleston, Nashville, Richmond, and Washington, D.C. southernenvironment.org