Water Quality Permits and the Pipelines

By Elizabeth E. Payne

On May 24, Virginia’s state environmental regulatory agency conceded that information it had provided about how it would evaluate the potential water quality impact of two natural gas pipelines was inaccurate.

In early April, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality announced that it would require the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines to detail the impact of each individual stream or wetland crossing. Now, it says that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will assess the crossings.

The change worries many citizens and environmental groups concerned about the impact of the proposed pipelines.
The Sierra Club filed a petition asking the State Corporation Commission to determine whether Dominion Virginia Power’s purchasing agreements for natural gas from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are subject to the Virginia Affiliates Act.

The law stipulates that public service corporations must obtain permission from the state before doing business with an affiliated company. The law may apply because Dominion Virginia Power’s parent company, Dominion Resources, is a partner in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

In West Virginia, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection denied a request to hear an appeal filed by three citizens and Appalachian Mountain Advocates, an environmental law firm. The appeal challenged DEP’s certification that the Mountain Valley Pipeline wouldn’t violate the state’s water quality standards.


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