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Letters for March 26: The methane gas pipeline expansion puts Black and brown communities at risk



Methane pipeline

Re “Residents of historically Black neighborhoods on Norfolk’s southside concerned about proposed floodwall project” (March 15): I was not surprised to read the above article. Too often, the concerns of our Black residents are overlooked when it comes to new infrastructure projects. The same thing is happening — but far, far worse — with the “Virginia Reliability Project,” which is more of a “Virginia Ripoff Project.”

The VRP is a 49-mile pipeline project between central and southeast Virginia to dig up the pipe and replace it with one that would quadruple its capacity to send unsafe, planet-warming methane gas through our localities. “Within 1 mile of the pipeline’s route, more than half the population are communities of color and nearly half the population live below the poverty line,” according to the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “Thirteen public schools and one hospital are within 1.5 miles or less of the route, including Hillpoint Elementary in Suffolk, just 300 feet from the pipeline’s path,” the organization reported.

Since when is it OK to put our children at risk for a pipeline we don’t need? Not only do we not need it, but this pipeline would worsen our climate and air quality. Black and brown communities have long been the dumping ground for toxic, polluting fossil fuel infrastructure, and it’s far past time to change that dynamic. I hope our regulators reject the “Virginia Ripoff Project” as soon as possible. Learn more at

Carolyn White, Suffolk

Reliable energy

When my grandfather, Luther Church, founded Getem Manufacturing Co. Inc. in Norfolk in 1922, the city’s population was just more than 100,000 people. Since then, the region’s population has swelled to more than 1.7 million people across Hampton Roads. My family is proud of our history in Hampton Roads, and we understand that our communities are continuing to grow and prosper. With new industry, increased population and economic growth, we need energy infrastructure that can support our region. The Virginia Reliability Project will do just that.

The Virginia Reliability Project will lay the foundation for new investments in our communities and quality of life by modernizing our natural gas system and ensuring we have affordable reliable energy to support our current and future needs. The key to this project is that it replaces and updates an existing pipeline that has been in use here for roughly 70 years. As a family owned business with more than 100 years in Hampton Roads, we know that our workforce cannot afford to let this opportunity pass us by.

Charlie Church, Norfolk

Quite a lesson

Re “Isle of Wight School Board states systemic racism does not exist in new policy” (March 17): The article reported that the Isle of Wight County School Board adopted a policy to “establish a framework for teaching about controversial issues.” The policy declares that it is parents or guardians who are responsible for guiding their children’s views on such issues. Two topics, racism and discrimination, are addressed in the policy. But the aspirational goal of teaching controversial or divisive concepts without imposing a belief or judgment about the topic in the minds of the students is betrayed by the very guiding principles stated in the policy, including “there is no systemic racism or bigotry perpetuated by the United States or any governmental entity,” and that “no one is inherently a victim or oppressed due to their race … , skin color … .”

From the beginning, society and laws in the United States were designed to create wealth and privilege for Americans of western European descent. For more than 200 years slavery excluded Africans from the benefits of society, followed by more than 100 years of legal segregation, voter suppression, inferior schools, redlining, discriminatory lending practices and other barriers to home ownership and wealth accumulation. The effect of these practices, laws and policies are still entrenched in our society, producing and perpetuating unfair discriminatory treatment for people of color. This is systemic racism. Teaching banalities stating otherwise does not make it so, and policies like the one adopted in Isle of Wight County is itself a prime example of systemic racism.

Ray King, Norfolk

Jillian Balow

Why is Gov. Glenn Youngkin paying former Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow a year’s worth of severance pay? The Virginia Department of Education has made one mistake after another, including one that shortchanged every school system in the commonwealth.

Moreover, she wasn’t fired, she quit. For someone who’s all about “helping” Virginia taxpayers, he’s being awfully generous with our money, and it sure looks like he’s rewarding substandard performance. Is that the way he ran his business?

Deborah Wyld, Smithfield

Poor choice

Re “Gov. Youngkin appoints new Virginia education superintendent” (March 22): I’m curious by what stretch of logic Gov. Glenn Youngkin chose Lisa Coons, Tennessee’s chief academic officer, to be the next Virginia superintendent of public instruction. Every agency I could find that ranks states by public educational performance ranks Tennessee behind Virginia by 24, 22 and 21 places. Couldn’t the governor have found a qualified educational professional in Virginia or in one of the states that outranks us?

Susan Drewery, Williamsburg

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