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Federal Court Strikes State Permit For Pipeline Station At Union Hill

The entrance to the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. (Craig Carper/VPM News)

A federal appeals court in Richmond has tossed a state permit needed to build a compressor station in Buckingham County, Virginia for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

A three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argumentsin the case this October.

The ruling said the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board failed to adequately consider the potential health impacts that the station could have on the residents of Union Hill, a historic African American community. The panel said regulators failed to consider zero-emission alternatives to gas-fired turbines in the station and in the permit analysis, “relied on evidence in the record that was incomplete or discounted by subsequent evidence”.

The group Friends of Buckingham, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation challenged the State Air Pollution Control Board’s decision to award the permit for construction of the compressor station. 

“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,” said Friends of Buckingham president and Union Hill resident Chad Oba. “That’s not fair, and it’s not American. This is a win for a group of citizens who were committed to protecting their community and never ever gave up.

The pipeline’s lead developer, Dominion Energy, has said there will be fewer emissions and more air control monitoring at the Buckingham station than any other compressor station in the country. Spokesman Aaron Ruby said the permit was struck down for “procedural issues”.

“In its opinion today, the Court recognized the stringency of the permit, while seeking more explanation and analysis from the state to support its approval,” Ruby said. “We will immediately begin working with the state to resolve the procedural issues identified by the Court and are confident this can be completed in a timely manner.”


Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.
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