Group Files Complaint in Hopes of Halting Atlantic Coast Pipeline Construction

Posted: Updated: Jun 21, 2018 03:12 PM
The BREDL has filed a Title VI civil rights claim The BREDL has filed a Title VI civil rights claim
The group says pipeline construction should be halted The group says pipeline construction should be halted

An environmental group in central Virginia has filed a complaint in the hopes of putting a halt on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The complaint is against the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

The group says it didn't do a specific study and that should prevent construction on the pipeline.

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) filed the complaint – which is a Title VI civil rights complaint - against the DEQ with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday, June 18.

It stipulates that any agency that receives federal funding is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin.

The BREDL believes that the DEQ has abandoned communities of color and disadvantaged communities because it did not conduct an environmental justice analysis.

The BREDL says the DEQ cannot say that those communities will not sustain a disproportionate impact from the pipeline if the study was never conducted. Therefore, it's asking the EPA to investigate and void the Atlantic Coast Pipeline's 401 water certification.

“By asking the EPA's general counsel to void the permits, it stops anything from happening in the state of Virginia because without the 401 water certification the pipeline cannot be built,” says Sharon Ponton, the campaign coordinator of Stop of the Pipeline.

Ponton says she received an email from the DEQ confirming that it has not conducted an environmental justice analysis.

In response to the complaint filed, the DEQ stated:

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) completed the environmental justice (EJ) analysis, which is a requirement of federal agencies under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The reviewing agencies comment on the laws under their jurisdiction. Virginia has no laws governing environmental justice at this time, and therefore relies on the federal analysis.

Environmental justice is addressed in the final environmental impact statement for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Chapter 4.9 on page 511.

The Department of Environmental Quality has 20 days to respond to the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League's complaint.

Press Release from Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League:

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) and its Virginia chapters, Protect Our Water, Concern for the New Generation and No ACP, filed a Title VI civil rights complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) office of External Civil Rights Compliance Office (ECRCO).

BREDL’s Stop the Pipelines Campaign Coordinator, Sharon Ponton, stated, “The 26-page complaint tells the story of VADEQ’s segmented process for 401 water quality certification and asks the EPA to void the certification until a thorough environmental justice analysis is completed. We believe we have presented a strong case indicating the environmental justice communities along the path of the proposed ACP will be disproportionately impacted by health impacts from pollution caused by toxic, polluting pipeline infrastructure and its contributions to global warming from leaks and its compressor station, as well as the health affects from noise and toxic emissions from its compressor stations. The complaint also outlines disproportionate impacts from possible threats to water supplies, safety related issues from discriminatory construction rules, and property loss through eminent domain.”

Ponton concluded, “The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality failed to complete an environmental justice analysis. This analysis is required to ensure communities of color and disadvantaged communities do not bear a disproportionate impact from the construction and operation of new energy infrastructure. VADEQ simply dropped the ball and did not fulfill its responsibilities.”

Kathie Mosley, Buckingham resident and chair of Concern for the New Generation, stated, “We’ve been saying here in Buckingham all along we don’t matter. VADEQ has proven that statement true. It didn’t do its job to protect us. We look forward to a positive outcome from the EPA.”

Sue Rucker, a member of Protect Our Water, decried, “We’ve had to learn a lot over the last 4 years. The Governor needs to understand, we will hold he and his administration to his promises of science and transparency. We won’t stop, until we stop the pipelines.”

Stacy Lovelace, the co-founder of Virginia Pipeline Resisters, stated, "We stand in solidarity with the communities of color, Indigenous communities, and low-income communities that were intentionally targeted by the pipeline companies to disproportionately bear the disastrous health and environmental impacts that will result from the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines. It is appalling that government officials and agencies continue to support these pipelines in the face of such blatant environmental racism and injustice. The only rectification can be to stop work on the pipelines immediately."

The full complaint appears below.

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