UNION HILL, Va. (AP) — The Associated Press reported that former Vice President Al Gore urged residents of a historic African-American community in Virginia on Tuesday to continue their fight against a plan to build a natural gas pipeline compressor station in their neighborhood.
Gore and social justice advocate the Rev. William Barber II met with residents of Union Hill, a rural community about 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Richmond that was founded by emancipated slaves after the Civil War.
The visit by Gore and Barber — part of an environmental justice tour — came weeks after a racial scandal rocked state government when both Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring acknowledged wearing blackface in the 1980s.
“This proposed pipeline is a reckless, racist rip-off,” Gore said.
He said Northam should fulfill his promise for racial reconciliation by opposing the pipeline project.
“This is an ideal opportunity for him to say, ‘I’ve seen the light,’” Gore said.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would run 600 miles (965 kilometers) and carry fracked natural gas from West Virginia into Virginia and North Carolina.
Opponents are concerned that exhaust from the 54,000-horsepower compressor station would hurt low-income and elderly residents living in Union Hill. Supporters say it will boost development.
Compressor stations are used to power interstate natural gas pipelines, moving gas through the system.
Some residents of Union Hill, while not in favor of the project, have come to accept it.
Dominion has offered to give more than $5 million to help improve Union Hill.