Editor: On Earth Day, Loudoun residents found themselves at Union Hill Baptist Church in the rural heart of Virginia. Sitting in the small Buckingham County church, packed full on a Sunday afternoon, we heard testimony from community members who have been fighting for their lives and livelihoods since 2014. That’s when they learned of Dominion’s plans to build a more than 54,000-horsepower fracked gas compressor station for pumping gas through the proposed Atlantic Coast pipeline. If built, this compressor station would be more than five times larger than standard compressor stations like those found in Loudoun County.
Ella Rose lives on a 1.9-acre piece of property only 150 feet from the land Dominion purchased for the compressor station. Ella told us she had not planned to fight a compressor station in her retirement. Nevertheless, that’s what she’s had to do. “I worry about the noise from the compressor station, which I will be in contact with 24 hours a day, every day of the week for the rest of my life. I will never be able to get away from it. It will disturb the wildlife as well, and I will miss seeing them.”
Other concerns shared by the community include the risk of explosion, the high potential of water pollution, and asthma-inducing air pollution.
Buckingham is a rural, less than wealthy, and predominantly African American county. It is no surprise, then, that Dominion chose it for its volatile compressor station project. It is standard for companies like Dominion to plan harmful infrastructure projects in communities with the least amount of wealth and power. If Buckingham was wealthy and predominantly white, there is no doubt Dominion would not have gone there. This is environmental racism at its ugliest.
“I do believe now that this location was selected because we are predominantly African Americans here, and that it was their hope that we would not speak up or fight back. Our lives count too, and they should not be sacrificed in favor of financial interests. It was difficult for me to speak up at first, still is. But I felt, I feel, that it is important that I do speak up, and do something,” Ella said.
Local climate action group 350 Loudoun helped coordinate the Earth Day trip with friends from Buckingham, Yogaville, and around the state. They have plans to continue strengthening the relationship between Loudoun and Buckingham and to make sure the compressor station and pipeline never get built. To learn more about the ongoing effort to stop the Buckingham Compressor Station and the Atlantic Coast pipeline, please check outfriendsofbuckinghamva.org/friends/and 350Loudoun.org.
Loudoun stands with Buckingham.
Lee Stewart, Aldie