Energy & Environment

Atlantic Coast Pipeline loses permit battle with historically black community

A federal appeals court rejected a needed permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on Tuesday, the latest legal blow to the controversial pipeline as it heads to the Supreme Court through another case.

The unanimous decision from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., was a victory for Union Hill, a community founded by freed slaves after the Civil War. 

Residents challenged Dominion Energy’s plans to build a gas-powered compressor station for the pipeline in the community, arguing the project would lead to poor health conditions for the largely black community. 

“Five years ago, Dominion told us that there was going to be a compressor station in Union Hill and there was nothing we could do about it. That’s not fair, and it’s not American. This is a win for a group of citizens who were committed to protecting their community and never ever gave up,” said Chad Oba, a Union Hill resident and president of Friends of Buckingham, a coalition within the community that challenged the pipeline.

“Today we showed that our community, our community’s history, and our community’s future matters more than a pipeline,” he added.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is slated to run 600 miles, bringing fracked natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina, but it has hit numerous legal roadblocks along the way.

According to the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represented Union Hill residents, the case is the eighth time since May 2018 that a federal court or agency has revoked or suspended Atlantic Coast Pipeline permits.

Dominion Energy told The Associated Press it plans to work with the state to fix the issues the court identified with its permit. 

In February, the Supreme Court will hear another case challenging the pipeline, Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, which challenges the U.S. Forest Service’s decision to allow the pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail.

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