NAACP chapters calling for a halt to pipeline construction

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- The Harrisonburg-Rockingham chapter and the Virginia State chapter of the NAACP are calling for a halt to all construction activities on the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines.

Photo credit: WDBJ7

They're calling the construction of these pipelines "environmental racism," saying that the pipeline would run through a predominately black neighborhood.

In a letter to the Department of Environmental Quality, the president of the VA state chapter writes, "Rich aquatic life, safe recreational opportunities, healthy wildlife habitat, and clean drinking water resources are in jeopardy if we do not step back and halt all construction activities.."

You can read the full letter here .

According to that letter, the pipelines would cut through Union Hill, a historically black community.

Monica Robinson, the president of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham chapter of NAACP, said they are in full support of the Virginia State chapter.

"We have to start taking back things that belong to us," she said. "We can't continually allow harms to be put upon our people without speaking up and this would be another harm. We cant allow that to happen."

We reached out to Dominion Energy, the company behind the construction of the pipelines, and it says the lines would benefit the community.

The statement reads in part: "We sincerely believe this project is going to improve the quality of life for all Virginians, including residents of Union Hill. We value the contributions they've made in making this a stronger and better project."

You can read the full statement below:

"Meeting the energy needs of millions of people every day requires large infrastructure projects like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This project is all about building a better economic and environmental future for all Virginians, including the residents of Union Hill. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is going to bring cleaner, lower-cost and more reliable energy to millions of Virginians, but we must be sensitive to the impact it has on local communities. We have worked and will continue working very hard to minimize those impacts.

We have a profound respect for the history and people of the Union Hill community. We’ve worked very hard over the last several years to build strong relationships with the community, and we’ve made a sincere effort to address their concerns.

In 2016, we formed a Community Advisory Group to help develop our plans for the Buckingham compressor station. Several Union Hill residents participated in that process. Based on their valuable input, we made several changes to the facility, all with the goal of minimizing its impact on the community. Noise and visual impacts were two of the biggest concerns raised by the community, so we added additional sound buffers and landscaping to ensure nearby residents will not see or hear the facility.

We sincerely believe this project is going to improve the quality of life for all Virginians, including residents of Union Hill, and we value the contribution they’ve made in making this a stronger and better project that will have fewer impacts on the community."