The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is raising environmental justice and pollution concerns about a proposed compressor station in Pittsylvania County for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). The Lambert Compressor Station, an industrial facility planned to pump gas through the pipeline, would be built in Chatham, Virginia. The location is within five miles of four environmental justice communities with strong African American and American Indian roots.
Nearby residents are already burdened by pollution from the existing Transco Compressor Station and are concerned this project would add to those health risks. That includes Elizabeth and Anderson Jones, whose Chatham farmland has been in the family for 97 years. Mr. Jones suffers from asthma and his mother died of the disease. They are shocked and saddened to see the character of their community threatened by natural gas infrastructure.
CBF and partners previously raised environmental justice concerns for a similar compressor station in Union Hill proposed for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This led to a landmark decision in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals finding that Virginia did not fulfill its legal duty to determine whether the Union Hill facility would unfairly threaten the health of nearby residents.
The air permit application for the Lambert facility does not meet the standards set by the Fourth Circuit Court and Virginia law for environmental justice, including the Virginia Environmental Justice Act, which aims to ensure no single community should bear more than its share of pollution. The application also contains multiple technical deficiencies and shortcomings in the air pollution modeling.
I'm relatively sure the compressor stations is planned to be sited close enough to the pipeline to be useful, where the costs for the installation (especially land costs) are as low as possible, and somewhere where as few people as possible are affected. Are some of those Native American or African American? Yeah, so what? Do they benefit from natural gas? Yes. Also, 5 miles seems quite a wide range to include. A circle with a radius of 5 miles covers over 75 square miles. I live less than 3 miles from a nuclear power plant, and it rarely enters my consciousness except when I go fishing there.Locals Worry Wind and Solar Will Gobble Up Forests and Farms
Massachusetts has installed solar panels faster than almost any other state as it seeks to reduce its carbon emissions. But some activists say the state’s transition to renewable energy has come at a cost.
“We have big multinational solar companies coming and cutting down forests,” said Jane Winn, executive director of the Berkshire Environmental Action Team, a nonprofit in the state. “They're not doing a good job of it, so they're allowing erosion into wetlands. We're trying to connect our forests so wildlife can move, and they're in there fragmenting it.”
Similar conflicts are cropping up across the country, as the fast-growing wind and solar industries expand into new areas, driven in some cases by state mandates and incentives. In many places, locals are pushing back, saying that forests and farmlands should not be sacrificed in the fight against climate change.
Local activists say they support clean energy, but they want state regulators to be more thoughtful about where to allow development. The activists would like to see more solar projects on rooftops and previously developed sites such as parking lots and landfills.
But some industry leaders say large, ground-mounted projects are much more cost-effective, and the only realistic way for states to transition away from fossil fuels. They say “not in my backyard” attitudes threaten to stall important climate work.
Some state regulators have begun rethinking their wind and solar strategies to push projects away from undeveloped areas. But they acknowledge more conflicts are inevitable as the industry grows, and many states still lack a clear picture of the land use that will be required to meet their renewable energy goals.
In Massachusetts, 150,000 acres could be lost to renewable energy development as the state seeks to meet its climate targets, according to a 2020 report from Mass Audubon, a conservation nonprofit. Between 2012 and 2017, the group found that solar projects accounted for a quarter of the natural lands that were converted to development. In response to those concerns, Massachusetts leaders are seeking to reduce state incentives for building solar projects on ecologically sensitive lands.
How about all the big cities in Massachusetts volunteer to cover the sky with solar panels and wind generators. Who needs to see the sun anyway?
You know what form of power would require far less forest land that the wind and solar generators, and produce no carbon dioxide? Nuclear.