Editor: Last week, the Loudoun County Planning Commission recommended approval of two natural gas infrastructure projects, CMPT–2017-0004 WB Express Project and CMPT-2017-003, Loudoun Compressor Station.
Because of wide ranging adverse impacts to people, the environment, and the planet, several members of the environmental community spoke out to oppose the project. Regrettably, these impacts were not addressed in the staff report, resulting in a staff recommendation for approval that the commission followed. Under current regulations, land-use is the only factor to be considered.
The federal government does have responsibility to review the environmental impacts of natural gas projects, but have failed. Just this past August, a federal appeals court overturned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of three proposed natural gas pipelines in southeastern U.S. for lack of adequate environmental review regarding climate change inducing greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.
Because the air that we all breath is a common resource, the Public Trust Doctrine must be considered. The public trust doctrine requires the state to protect those resources necessary for public survival and welfare. The public trust doctrine views such resources as owned in common by the people and requires that they be maintained, protected, and preserved by the state for the public interest.
Recently, the Public Trust Doctrine was successfully applied to our common resource the air. The Atmospheric Trust Litigation, ATL, provides a legal mechanism for courts to hold governments accountable for reducing carbon emissions. Eminent Public Trust Scholar Prof. Mary Christina Wood concludes that courts have the ability to enforce a fiduciary obligation to reduce carbon at all levels of government. Recently, young people sued the federal and state government for failure to act expeditiously to protect the earth’s atmosphere from the adverse impacts of climate-changing carbon emissions.
The commission permits that the Planning Commission approved last week will increase climate-changing carbon emissions in Loudoun County. The Loudoun Compressor Station expansion is scheduled to be ratified by the Board of Supervisors on Thursday, October 19 following the 6:00 PM Public Input session. Think globally and act locally. Voice your opposition.
Natalie Pien, Leesburg