Protesters gather in opposition of Atlantic Coast Pipeline

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – A group of protesters gathered Wednesday in opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. They met outside the Department of Environmental Quality offices on Southern Boulevard.

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network and other organizers held an interfaith vigil to pray for Governor Terry McAuliffe and the Department of Environmental Quality to stop permits needed to build the pipeline.

Organizer Quan Baker says they’re against the pipeline because of the possible environmental effects.

“We’re dealing with the whole coastal flooding issue. These pipelines would only make it worse with the greenhouse gas emissions and it is actually, physically going through Chesapeake and Suffolk,’ says Baker.

10 On Your Side spoke with a Dominion Energy spokesperson who says the natural gas pipeline will emit less greenhouse gas than coal. They tells us that the pipeline, which starts in West Virginia and ends in North Carolina, says it’s needed in Hampton Roads because other pipelines are already stretched thin to supply industries.

Dominion says this will be no different than other pipelines already running through the area.

“The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will be no different than the thousands of miles of underground pipelines that already exist in Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Norfolk and many other areas across Virginia. We know we have a responsibility to protect the environment, and we will. We live in these communities, so this is a deeply personal commitment we’ve made to our own families and our own neighbors.

We’re using some of the most protective measures ever been used by the industry, and we’ve received more regulatory oversight than any project in Virginia’s history. This pipeline is going to provide cleaner electricity and home heating to millions of Virginians, and it’s going to rebuild Hampton Roads’ manufacturing economy.

The pipelines that supply Hampton Roads are fully tapped and can’t support new industries, particularly manufacturing. That’s why the vast majority of Virginians support this project. They want cleaner electricity, lower energy costs and new jobs, and they understand we need new infrastructure to make that possible.”

But for those protesting the construction, which Dominion says it hopes to get started this fall, the say they want cleaner energy to fight climate change.

“I think that’s what happened in Florida and Houston this week, is what’s going to happen to all of us in coastal cities,” says Kim Walker, who volunteers for CCAN.

Protesters also held a vigil in honor of hurricane victims and those affected. It’s something that Patrice Schermer says hits home. She’s in the area after evacuating her house in the Florida Keys due to Hurricane Irma.

“I would love to take that love and concern we’re feeling after this has happened and putting that towards making a change and making sure it doesn’t happen again,” Schermer says.

Dominion says it sent more than 700 employees and equipment to help those recently hit by Irma. Protesters will be out again on Thursday for a sit-in at the Department of Environmental Quality building at noon.