Late last week Appalachian Mountain Advocates filed a legal challenge to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s Special Use Permit for a compressor station in Buckingham County. The county’s Board of Supervisors voted in January to grant the controversial permit after a five-hour public meeting filled with locals opposing the project.
The compressor station is proposed for a 68-acre parcel along state Route 56 in western Buckingham. At this site, the existing Transco Pipeline intersects with the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), a Dominion-led project proposed to cut through 600 miles of prime forest and agricultural land in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. The ACP requires the 53,783-horsepower compressor station to create enough pressure to move fracked natural gas through length of the pipeline.
Opponents of the ACP expect that, if built, the project would increase fracking in central Appalachia and delay investments in renewable energy for decades.
Appalmad challenged the Special Use Permit on the grounds that ACP is ineligible under the county’s zoning ordinance. Such a permit is legally reserved for public utilities who serve residents. The group argues ACP is not a public utility because it is not now, nor will it be, engaged in the business of furnishing utility natural gas service or natural gas service to the general public.
Appalmad filed this suit on behalf of a dairy and cattle farmer who lives next to the proposed site for the compressor station. The project would slice through the farmer’s pasture, just one mile from his home.
The site also borders the Buckingham County’s Union Hill neighborhood, a largely African American community that has been active in opposing the project.
Compressor stations are known to emit air pollutants including formaldehyde and particulate matter. People living near similar facilities complain of noise pollution, foul smells, and some have reported increases in respiratory, neurological and cardiovascular problems.
The group has asked that the Court declare the permit void. The full complaint can be read here.
Photo from January 2017 meeting of the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors. Photo credit – Cat McCue.