Food & Water Watch’s “Fracking Endgame: Locked Into Plastics, Pollution, and Climate Chaos” report, released today, gives a comprehensive look at the devastating new fracked gas infrastructure boom across the country, with more than 700 fracking-related projects recently built or on the queue for development. If this investment in fracked gas continues unchecked, it would lock the country into a fossil fuel-reliant future, with hellish consequences for our communities, cities, and ecosystems.
Virginians are well aware of how the reckless buildout of fracking infrastructure can jeopardize health and wreak havoc on communities. The Mountain Valley Pipeline remains under construction in some areas despite over 300 violations, a current criminal investigation, and court rulings blocking construction in national forest land and across hundreds of waterbody crossings. A proposed expansion to the pipeline, MVP Southgate, is already in the works.
Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Buckingham compressor station, both of which are currently held up by court cases, would cut through the state. Two gas-fired power stations, including the massive Chickahominy Power Station - set to be one of the biggest fossil fuel facilities in Virginia - are proposed for Charles City County. Even existing infrastructure is slated for enlargement, like Transco’s Southeastern Trail expansion project.
Oil and gas corporations disproportionately place these projects in the midst of vulnerable, low-income communities in an attempt to stave off public attention and quell protest. Astonishingly, Governor Northam and his agencies are generally supportive of new fossil fuel infrastructure projects, and the governor is unwilling to speak out against fracked gas despite the harm it does to Virginia communities. But Virginians remain vocal opponents of this destructive industry.
“Mountain Valley Pipeline is ruining pristine forests, farms, and watersheds for fracked gas infrastructure without providing any use or benefit for the communities placed in harm’s way,” said Russell Chisholm, co-chair of POWHR (Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights). “Enabled by FERC, industry is willing to sacrifice our future and trample on our land and human rights along the way. We can and must reject this status quo in favor of a clean energy future that sustains the planet and benefits us all.”
“The citizens of the community will be the guinea pigs for this high-polluting compressor station,” said John Laury, a member of the historic African-American community of Union Hill targeted for Dominion’s Buckingham compressor station, and one of many working to oppose the project. “There are too many uncertainties involved. Can Dominion be trusted? From the information that we have been told, the history of the other plants that have been built and based upon their record, no. We’re still seeking the truth, and at this point, we have still not gotten the truth.”
Richard Walker, another impacted member of the Union Hill community, said, “There are 35 of my family members in the Union Hill community that will be impacted by the compressor station, and they are already impacted by the Transco line. Here we go again with more big business taking advantage of poor African-American individuals in a rural environment, and it’s being endorsed by the Governor of Virginia because he’s done nothing to stop it. It’s complete exploitation and it’s time for it to stop.”
“Energy companies burden communities of color and low-income areas with toxic gas infrastructure, like in Charles City County where two large plants with a combined capacity of over 2700 MW are being permitted and the population living a mile away is 60-70% minority,” said Mary Finley-Brook, a University of Richmond Professor and member of the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative.
“We’re horrified by the findings of this new report, but it is also inspiration to double down on the fight against existing and planned fossil fuel projects,” said Stacy Lovelace, organizer for Food & Water Watch in Virginia. “Virginia’s beloved landscapes and the health and safety of communities, especially of underrepresented and low-income communities, are all threatened. These projects must be stopped. We don’t have any time to waste.”
The “Fracking Endgame” report focuses on the global impacts of fracked gas development as well as the local: industry investments are predicted to result in a 40 percent increase in global plastic production over the next decade, meaning fossil fuel emissions and plastics pollution will surge globally. Continued investment in the extraction and distribution of fossil fuels blocks out opportunities for renewable energy development, which we need to transition to completely and immediately if we are going to stave off catastrophic levels of global warming and protect our communities.