Coal power plant cooling towers

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved a request from Sabal Trail Transmission to start operating a polluting facility called a compressor station in Albany, Ga.

Albany is a hotspot for Coronavirus cases, and recent studies show that air pollutants like those emitted by compressor stations increase the likelihood that people suffering from COVID-19 will die.

The facility’s operation raises significant environmental justice concerns, since Albany’s population is 73.5% African American, as are 84% of people living within half a mile of the compressor station, according to the Sierra Club.

Read more about Coronavirus and its impact on the energy sector here.

FERC’s own analysis of the Albany site concluded that “it is reasonable to assume that, where African American populations are present, they have an increased risk of experiencing adverse impacts from decreased air quality.”

This is compounded by the news that African Americans are disproportionately likely to die from COVID-19. In fact, the Sierra Club raised these concerns in a letter to FERC requesting that they deny Sabal Trail Transmission’s request to put the facility into service.

Mark Woodall, the Conservation Chair of the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club said: “Significantly increasing air pollution is the last thing those living in Albany need. This compressor station only exists to pump fracked gas to Florida and is nothing but dangerous to the people of Georgia. We know we can’t trust polluting corporations to put our people over their profits, but Governor Kemp should do everything in his power to protect Georgians from this dirty, dangerous compressor station.”

Dougherty County Commissioner Gloria Gaines, adds: “It is egregious at the moment in time when our community is suffering from this dangerous respiratory disease, that disproportionately impacts environmental justice communities, for FERC to rubber stamp this project without any review given the situation. It is an affront to our community.”

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