Why you know him: The Rev. Paul Wilson, 66, is a pastor in Buckingham County and a leader in opposing Dominion Energy’s plans to build a natural gas compressor station in Union Hill to serve the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
Wilson has been a pastor for nearly two decades in Union Hill, a community that includes African-American families who can trace their roots there to before emancipation. A native and resident of Amelia County, Wilson owns a funeral home in Southside Virginia that his family has operated since 1868.
What’s new: Earlier this month, the State Air Pollution Control Board delayed voting on the air permit for the compressor station, and a spokeswoman for Gov. Ralph Northam said two newly appointed members on the seven-member board will not participate in the final decision.
“I think we still have a good chance of stopping the pipeline and compressor station,” said Wilson, maintaining that the pipeline proposal is driven more by profits than need. Dominion has rejected arguments by opponents that the compressor station will have an adverse effect on the community’s health, welfare and safety.
Meanwhile, a $5.1 million proposal by Dominion to invest in emergency services and community projects for Union Hill, subject to approval of the project, has divided Wilson’s congregation, the pastor says.
Wilson has overseen the Union Hill and Union Grove Baptist churches, but some Union Hill congregants voted him out in November. He is challenging the vote’s legitimacy and says he remains on the church’s payroll.
“It’s taken a toll on me. But I believe I’ll weather it because I believe I’m on the right side of the issue,” he said of conflict over Dominion’s proposal.
Wilson said he wants to be known as a preacher who speaks divine truth to power on environmental issues. “And I’m going to be speaking to it the rest of my life.”