Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League called upon Virginia Inspector General Michael Westfall to investigate the firing of two State Air Pollution Control Board members by Governor Ralph Northam. The request also cites threats by the state attorney general to disband the Governor’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice. The request centers on a proposed natural gas pipeline compressor station air permit.
Sharon Ponton, BREDL’s Stop the Pipelines Campaign Coordinator, stated, “Governor Northam’s actions to replace Rebecca Rubin and Sam Bleicher are unethical and corrupt.” The letter of request written by Ponton to the IG details events she observed during the last few weeks. She concluded, “We believe that when the Governor sees a decision being made he doesn’t like, he puts his thumb on the scale to ensure Dominion Energy gets its way.”
Lou Zeller, BREDL’s Executive Director stated, “Governor Northam, throughout the pipeline permitting process in Virginia, has tried to straddle the fence, but his true position has been made clear in the last few weeks. He is disregarding the environmental racism being perpetrated on the freedmen community of Union Hill.” BREDL has a case on the compressor station now before the Virginia Supreme Court, with arguments set for December 4.
Ponton’s request to the IG also pointed to recent actions by Northam to dismiss the findings of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice. She said, “We have asked the Inspector General to complete a thorough investigation into the Governor’s actions. We believe the Governor abused his power, corrupted the permitting process, and broke with the public trust,” Ponton concluded.
The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League is a Virginia corporation with members and projects throughout the state. Its chapter in Union Hill, Virginia, Concern for the New Generations, was founded in 2016 to oppose the natural gas pipeline and compressor station proposed by Dominion Energy.