The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard on October 29 arguments in the case challenging the permit issued by the Virginia State Air Pollution Control Board for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) compressor station proposed for Buckingham County, VA. The case, brought by ABRA member Friends of Buckingham and argued by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), questioned the appropriateness of the location of the compressor station being proximate to the historic Union Hill African American community.
A primary issue raised by SELC and CBF was whether the Air Board had properly weighed the health effects the facility would have on the Union Hill community. The Air Board had based its January 2019 decision on a comparison of projected emissions from the compressor station with emissions data for the entire state of Virginia. The three judges on the Fourth Circuit panel challenged that comparison, suggesting that a more relevant comparison would be between emissions expected in the Union Hill community with air quality in other areas of Buckingham County, farther away from the compressor station.
A second issue raised in the plaintiff’s argument was that the compressor station engines would be powered by natural gas that would emit fine particle matter, rather than by electric engines (as is the case with many compressor stations) which produce no air emissions. The State’s attorneys responded that Virginia law didn’t require the Air Board to take that into consideration in deciding whether to issue the facility’s permit.
An audio recording of the oral arguments made before the Court (57-minutes) is available by clicking here. A decision on the case is anticipated to be announced by the Court sometime in early 2020.