The Virginia Air Pollution Control Board voted 6-1 to deny a permit for the Lambert Compressor Station, Pittsylvania County. This would have been in support of the Mountain Valley Pipelines proposed Southgate Extension.
What was the reason for the denial? The permit did not comply with the Virginia Environmental Justice Act’s requirements for fair treatment of communities involved in environmental justice.
The board also ruled that the proposed compressor station site was not suitable because of a 2020 decision by SELC in a lawsuit challenging a permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
A federal court ruled that the board did not consider whether a compressor station would unfairly impact a predominantly Black community in Buckingham County.
The decision is a victory both for environmental justice and for residents of Pittsylvania County.
Mark Sabath, Senior Associate Attorney
One year later, Pittsylvania County residents, including members from the Pittsylvania County NAACP presented testimony to board about another compressor station which would have pumped tons fine particulate pollution each and every year into another Black community.
The board did not approve this time.
The board’s vote was a huge step forward in environmental justice in Virginia. The Virginia Air Pollution Control Board has never denied an air permit for environmental justice reasons.
Senior Attorney Mark Sabath stated that they were pleased that the air board recognized that the Lambert Compressor Station was a health risk to the surrounding communities, including communities of colour. This is a victory for environmental justice as well as for the residents in Pittsylvania County.
The Lambert Compressor Station was created to support the MVP Southgate Pipeline, which carries methane. This greenhouse gas has 80 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide over a period of 20 years.
The station was expected to emit more carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gasses each year than it actually does.
Southgate, if constructed, would connect the Mountain Valley Pipeline with North Carolina. It would be a continuation of the Virginia-based Mountain Valley Pipeline. This pipeline would run from Virginia to North Carolina. Virginia committed last year to reduce greenhouse gases emissions by 30% by 2030 and eliminate them completely by 2050. The Biden administration called for a carbon-free electricity grid in 2035.
Yet so-called natural gas infrastructure projects like compressor stations continue our reliance on climate-warming fossil fuels. These are backward-looking investments that would continue to emit dangerous greenhouse gases for decades.
By any measure, the compressor station would endanger peoples health the health of people who can least afford it, WriteKaren Campblin, chair of the Virginia State Conference NAACP’s environment and climate justice committee, and Dr. Samantha Ahdoot (co-founder of Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action) were featured in the Washington Post during the week leading to the hearing.
It is a win-win situation for Virginia’s communities of color and for Virginia’s air quality. The board also agreed to improve our climate.