Updated July 19, 2018
Fossil fuel companies and monopoly utilities are pushing hard to criss-cross central Appalachia with fracked-gas pipelines — not because the pipelines are needed, but because the companies stand to pocket huge profits. These risky, dangerous and unnecessary pipelines would put thousands of Americans at risk of polluted drinking water supplies, weakened local economies and possible explosions.
Two of the interstate pipelines are the largest proposed gas pipelines to ever cross the steep slopes and rugged terrain of the Appalachians — the Mountain Valley (MVP) and Atlantic Coast (ACP) pipelines.
Several ways to take action below.
The State Water Control Board is taking a second look at whether the Army Corps of Engineers’ “Nationwide Permit 12” is adequate to protect Virginia waterways from the impacts of building the MVP and ACP. Appalachian Voices and a growing number of organizations, citizens and elected officials firmly believe it is not, and we are demanding that that state Department of Environmental Quality conduct a stream-by-stream analysis. The DEQ is processing some 13,000 comments it received when the water board initiated a public comment period this spring. The board, which has ultimate voting decisions over the fate of the two pipelines, is currently scheduled to meet August 21 to consider the matter, but we are calling on the board to hold its meeting as soon as possible in light of the fact that MVP construction has already resulted in almost two dozen water pollution violations in just a few months.
- Visit the Virginia Conservation Network page to see some of the organizational comments that were submitted to the water board.
- View this interactive map identifying more than 150 instances of pollution-control failures along the MVP route.
Sign on to this petition to Governor Northam urging him to honor his campaign pledge to request that the DEQ conduct a stream-by-stream analysis of the pipelines. (FYI, here is a good summary by our partner, Wild Virginia, of the concerns that were sent to the board about the “nationwide” permit.)
Virginia Energy Plan
In a separate action, the state has launched a public process for updating the long-term Virginia Energy Plan, under the auspices of the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. The agency’s outline for involving citizens and stakeholders does not mention natural gas or pipelines, but don’t let that stop you from telling DMME there should be no new fossil fuel infrastructure in the commonwealth’s plan.
Attend one of the July listening sessions, or send in your written comments by August 24. Tell the Northam administration you support for renewable energy and energy efficiency — but also tell them your opinion of the fracked-gas Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines. Dominion Energy, in its latest long-term plan, continues to over-rely on natural gas as a source of electricity. Our state can do better! Virginia can shine the way to a clean energy future if we hold our leaders accountable and choose the right path now.
On April 11, 2018, news broke that EQT, the natural gas company behind the Mountain Valley Pipeline, is now planning to extend the MVP from it’s current terminus in Pittsylvania County, Va., about 70 miles south into North Carolina.
Appalachian Voices vigorously opposes this expansion of the ill-conceived and unneeded MVP, and is working with local communities in both states to educate residents.
The state Department of Environmental Protection waived its right to issue a water quality permit under the Clean Water Act for both the ACP and MVP, essentially giving the pipeline companies the go ahead under the Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide Permit 12. This “blanket” permit is utterly inadequate for projects this size and, as name indicates, is essentially a one-size-fits-all permit that fails to account site-specific conditions that will directly impact water quality.
Appalachian Voices and other groups, represented by Appalachian Mountain Advocates, are fighting the projects in court. In June, 2018, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay of all water-crossing construction activity on the Mountain Valley Pipeline in almost all of West Virginia.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in October, 2017 issued a “Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity” each for the MVP and ACP. In both cases, the agency said the pipelines can be built with minimal environmental harm. We strongly disagree with this assessment (read our press release for MVP and ACP). Appalachian Voices and dozens of other public interest groups have filed various legal challenges against those FERC permits. In addition, landowners in West Virginia and Virginia have filed separate lawsuits challenging FERC’s authority to grant the power of eminent domain allowing the for-profit pipeline companies to take private property for their own gain.
In the past 20 years, FERC has approved more than 400 pipelines, while rejecting only two. The natural gas industry has taken advantage of FERC’s guidelines — written in 1999 — by overbuilding pipelines. FERC’s “streamlined” approval process fails to properly consider market demand or recognize that many existing pipelines are underutilized. FERC also fails to fully measure the environmental impacts of pipelines, putting citizens and the environment at risk.
It is is currently reviewing both its pipeline review process and is taking comments through July 25, 2018.
This is a critical time for citizens from Appalachia and all across country to voice their objections to the rigged process FERC has been operating under for almost 20 years!
Sign our petition calling for thorough analysis of need, cumulative environmental impacts within the context of multiple pipelines being proposed, and dramatically improved opportunities for public engagement.