Gore, Barber visit Union Hill in Buckingham County

BUCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (CB19 NEWS) -- Former vice president Al Gore and the Reverend Dr. William Barber II visited Buckingham County on Tuesday night for a rally against the compressor station proposed to be built in the Union Hill community. The visit is part of a tour Gore and Barber are going on called "Moral Call for Ecological Justice."

"We're here to say Union Hill, you are not standing alone. We are standing with you," said Gore.

Gore and Barber spoke with members of Union Hill behind them as they pointed out the negative effects building the Atlantic Coast pipeline and compressor station could bring, which they said Virginia legislation is ignoring.

"Governor [Ralph] Northam, if you want to be a great governor," said Barber. "If you want to help lead the nation, the first thing you ought to do is stop by Union Hill and tear this compressor, and tell Dominion I was wrong, but I'm going to do right now."

Gore broke down scientific studies for why the pipeline is so dangerous for the environment, and why he said economically the pipeline does not benefit anyone but Dominion Energy.

"When I say it makes no sense economically, it's worse than that," said Gore. "It is a rip-off of the Virginia Energy ratepayers. They get nothing from it. It just puts more profits into Dominion and Duke. And Dominion owns the pipeline and the gas and some would say have an unhealthy degree of control over the legislature in the governor's office."

Dominion said it has tried to build trust with Union Hill with the promise of investing $5 million toward a new community center and upgrading Buckingham's rescue squad. Barber said the offer is an insult.

"Union Hill shouldn't have to get those things from Dominion," said Barber. "The state of Virginia ought to be investing in community centers and better rescue squads and schools in this community. Union Hill shouldn't have to sell its heritage for what's right."

Scroll down to read a full statement from Dominion Energy spokesperson Karl Neddenien:

We have a profound respect for the Union Hill community, and we’ve worked very hard to earn their trust. Early in the process we formed a Community Advisory Group to give the community a voice, and meaningful discussions with the community and county led to an agreement for us to invest more than $5 million to build a new community center and upgrade the county’s rescue squad.

The compressor station sets a new standard for environmental protection, with air emissions 50 to 80 percent lower than any other compressor station in Virginia. The station’s permits were unanimously approved by state and local agencies and the county board after extensive public participation, and they include the strictest standards of any compressor station in the country.

We chose the location of the Buckingham compressor station for two reasons: 1) the property intersects with an existing pipeline, which will allow public utilities to bring natural gas to the communities’ where it’s needed; and 2) the property was for sale and large enough for a compressor station with greater screening with trees and vegetation. The nearest house is a quarter mile away.

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