VA environmentalists frustrated by FERC-approved pipeline extension
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a plan extending a natural-gas pipeline in Virginia. The Virginia Reliability Plan and Transcot's CEC project calls for compressor stations and a natural-gas pipeline extension in communities already harmed by these impacts such as Petersburg.
The city ranked as the least healthy according to the University of Wisconsin's County Health Rankings and Roadmaps.
Tim Cywinski, communications director with the Sierra Club's Virginia Chapter, said projects like this undermine the state's climate progress.
"Whether it's a natural-gas pipeline that's doubling the size and diameter or a proposal to build a 'peaker plant' in Chesterfield, Virginia," he said. "All of these go against Virginia's goals, specifically since we're the last stronghold in the South that has any kind of climate commitment."
He said the state can't reach its climate goals and uphold environmental justice if projects like the VRP continue to be approved.
The project's Environmental Impact Statement is explicit on the determinants this project poses, but, Cywinski said Petersburg is a "sacrifice zone." This is an area where fossil-fuel companies already have an approved project and go there for a new project since the area's already facing environmental impacts.
Feedback to the project has been particularly negative. Numerous community and environmental groups voiced their opposition, and Cywinski said policymakers need to understand the importance in plans like this not being implemented.
"It's not unreasonable for us to expect our decision makers to implement a policy where protecting people from pollution is the floor -- not some negotiation up to the ceiling, the floor," he continued. "And, I think people, as the climate issue becomes more apparent, as people see more of the impacts of pollution, that this type of opposition is becoming more and more regular."
While some could get the misconception Virginia is pulling away from its climate goals, Cywinski said the opposite is true. He feels Gov. Glenn Youngkin and some legislators are working to blunt the state's climate goals.
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