CHATHAM, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Air Pollution Control Board (APCB) has denied a key permit to the Mountain Valley Pipeline, throwing the future of the embattled natural gas pipeline into question.

The permit in question was for the proposed Lambert Compressor Station, a key piece of infrastructure necessary to keep gas moving through the long pipeline.

But in a decision issued on Dec. 3, the APCB denied the company’s application for an air permit, reversing an earlier decision by the Department of Environmental Quality.

The Board wrote that the station, as proposed, did not meet the “fair treatment requirements of the Virginia Environmental Justice Act” because of its potential impact on a nearby “environmental justice community.”

Opposition to the project had been growing in Pittsylvania County, drawing high-profile criticism from the county chapter of the NAACP, who pointed out that the company had chosen a predominantly African-American area of the county in which to build the pollution-generating facility.

This map shows the proposed route of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. (Map courtesy of Roanoke County)

The decision was welcomed by environmental advocates, including Elizabeth Jones, a member of the Pittsylvania NAACP’s Environmental Justice Committee, who said, “Environmental and climate justice is a civil rights issue. We all depend on the physical environment and its bounty. The Air Pollution Control Board’s denial of the air permit to MVP ‘s Lambert Fracked Gas Compressor Station took courage.”

The Mountain Valley Pipeline has been met with continual oppositions. Residents unsuccessfully sought judicial intervention earlier this year citing concerns over groundwater pollution, and protesters interrupting a campaign event for gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, who was an early supporter of the project.

In a press statement, the environmental justice organization Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights wrote, “Without this key permit, the Mountain Valley Pipeline and its Southgate extension are unlikely to ever be built.”