View from the Ridge
View from the VA Ridge Photo: John Leszczynski via Flickr

Virginia board denies Mountain Valley Pipeline permit

View from the Ridge Photo: John Leszczynski via Flickr

Activists working to halt the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) in Virginia and North Carolina landed a huge win for environmental justice when the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board voted to deny a permit for a proposed air compressor station, on Dec. 3rd.

This is the first major decision after the passing of the Virginia Environmental Justice Act, which the board cited in its decision. They said the permit did not do its due diligence in screening for environmental justice concerns. The board agreed that the compressor would disproportionately impact a community of color. 

Activists worked to galvanize the community living around the proposed compressor site in southern Virginia’s Pittsylvania County. The compressor is necessary for the extension of the pipeline into North Carolina. The Air Pollution Control Board voted against the permit in a 6-1 decision

Currently spoke with Desiree Shelley, a Virginia organizer with Mothers Out Front. Mothers Out front is a climate organization that focuses on advocating for the future of all children, by mobilizing mothers and other children advocates. Shelley said that despite a short comment period, organizers were able to get the word out to the community and collect comments and input from the hundreds in the area which she believes influenced the board’s decision.

“There is power in people, there is power in the movement, and there’s a power in organizing— and it worked the way it should,” said Shelley. “A lot of us are thinking that this could have real implications.”

Shelley said that she is grateful for NAACP’s who worked to connect to the community and get the word out to local residents about the permit. 

Crystal Cavalier, Co-Founder of 7 Directions of Service, an organization focused on Indigenous-led community efforts to protect environmental and community health helped to engage the local Black and Indigenous communities to attend the permit hearing. 

“I really was surprised, because, I just really thought the pipeline had already put people in their pockets,” said Cavalier.

On Tuesday, the Virginia State Water Control Board will take a vote on whether to allow the construction of portions of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in wetlands.

Cavalier said that despite the recent win, she is unsure if the outcome on Tuesday will be as positive for communities and the environment. However, she says that advocates will continue to fight the pipeline regardless. 

“We have not fully defeated the pipeline until the investors back out or until the pipeline is not being constructed,” said Cavalier.

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