BLUE RIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE LEAGUE |
8260 Thomas Nelson Hwy ~
Lovingston, VA ~ Phone
(434) 420-1874 ~ Email:
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Sharon Ponton (434) 420-1874
24-hour Vigil for Justice calls on
Governor Northam and AG Herring
to Protect People and Environment over Pipelines
Richmond, VA—Today in a peaceful, spiritual event, allied groups led by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and Virginia Pipeline Resisters came together from across the Commonwealth to begin a 24-hour Vigil for Justice held outside the Governor’s Office. The action began with a Unity Rally with speakers who live along the routes of both the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines.
The group prayed, read poems, shared stories, and read statements from landowners. They also displayed photo posters depicting the devastation current construction of the MVP is causing in Southwest Virginia.
Ringing a bell, Union Hill community members read the names of some of those enslaved in Buckingham County by the Variety Shade plantation which is where the ACP compressor station is slated to be built. Others read the names of every stream, creek and river to be crossed by both pipelines calling attention to the threat of those waters being polluted.
Kathie Mosely, co-chair of Concern for the New Generation, a BREDL chapter located in Buckingham County, VA, where Dominion chose to site the compressor station for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, stated the permitting process has failed her and her neighbors in Union Hill. Mosely said, “From the beginning we were ignored. Even after proving through a door-to-door survey Union Hill is a majority African American community, the State Air Board ignored the fact we are an environmental justice community and approved the air permit anyway. I guess they thought we wanted Dominion’s money, but we don’t. We want to continue live in the clean, quiet community we have right now.”
Sharon Ponton, BREDL’s Stop the Pipelines Campaign Coordinator, questioned the Governor’s motives when he removed two air board members in the midst of the permitting process. She said, “Northam put his thumbs on the scales of justice when he fired Rebecca Rubin and Sam Bleicher, two members of the board. Today we are here to reclaim justice for the people…environmental justice, economic justice, racial justice and social justice. We cannot and will not let these communities be destroyed for shareholder profits for polluting industries.”
Stacy Lovelace, who works with the Virginia Pipeline Resisters said, “A wealth of evidence has proven both pipelines to be unnecessary and imminent harms to Virginia communities, as underscored by the findings of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice and 300+ violations already committed during MVP construction. What will it take for the Governor and Attorney General to stand with Virginians and insist on a stop work for the MVP and a halt to progress of the ACP?”
Some also went to pray outside Attorney General Herring’s office. Protect Our Water! Chairman Frank McManus called on Attorney General Mark Herring to issue a Stop Work Order and to explain why his deputy advised the State Water Control Board that it had no authority to revoke the 401 Water Quality Certificate issued for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. McManus stated, “We find it ludicrous that the permit itself and the lawsuit filed by AG Herring claiming over 300 violations by MVP state that the State Water Control Board can revoke the permit, but now Herring says the State Water Control Board can’t? That’s a lot fishy to us.”
The group also read statements representing many supporters who could not attend the event. The Vigil will continue through noon on Thursday.
Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League was founded in 1984 by people in North Carolina and Virginia to prevent a national radioactive waste dump. Today, BREDL has nine offices and dozens of chapters in Virginia and five other Southern states.
Location of Event: 1111 East Broad Street, Richmond VA (at the Governor's office on the sidewalk)