Today, the Virginia State Water Control Board voted to direct the Department of Environmental Quality to aggressively enforce violations of water pollution control plans for the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipeline, and to respond promptly to citizen complaints about construction problems. The board also voted to direct DEQ to provide relevant information to the U.S. Corps of Engineers, to whom Virginia has ceded authority over stream crossings, and incorporate erosion and sediment controls from the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy where appropriate and if more stringent than DEQ’s plans currently in place for the pipelines.
Today’s meeting was at maximum capacity (300+ people) and virtually all of those in attendance were dissatisfied with the the action, which does little to protect Virginia’s water quality from pipeline construction impacts going forward. Over the summer, the board received some 13,000 comments from the public, yet at the meeting, it allowed pipeline opponents only 30 minutes total to respond to DEQ’s presentation.
A motion that would have initiated a hearing to consider whether to modify, amend or revoke the state permits for the pipelines failed 3-4; board members Robert Wayland, who offered the motion, Roberta Kellam and Nissa Dean voted for the the measure.
The following statement is from Peter Anderson, Virginia Program Manager with Appalachian Voices:
“Thousands of citizens across the commonwealth have raised their voices and concerns about the folly of these two fracked-gas pipelines, experts have testified to the dangers of the projects as evidenced by countless construction violations already, and elected officials have objected to the state’s rushed review process. Despite this, and despite Governor Northam’s campaign promise to ensure thorough stream-by-stream reviews, his administration has ceded the quality of Virginia’s waters to Trump’s Corps of Engineers.
“Today, three members of the State Water Control Board stood up for Virginia, recognizing that despite the assurances they received from DEQ, the scale of these projects merit greater scrutiny that could lead to amendments or even revocation of the permits.
“Now more than ever, Virginians need Governor Northam to take a stand to put Virginia’s water quality above the corporate interests pushing these dangerous, risky fracked-gas pipelines.”
Cat McCue, Director of Communications, 434-293-6373, firstname.lastname@example.org