Ridge Graham, 828-278-7493, email@example.com
Cat McCue, 434-293-6373, firstname.lastname@example.org
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has denied a key water quality permit for the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate, dealing the project a setback. The permit is required under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act and would allow the pipeline company to temporarily or permanently impact multiple streams, wetlands and more than eight acres of protected riparian buffers in the Haw River watershed.
In a letter dated June 3, the DEQ noted that it had twice informed the pipeline company that its permit application, first submitted in November 2018, was incomplete. The agency also wrote that crucial information it needed to assess the project’s water impacts would not be available until after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issues a Draft Environmental Impact Statement, anticipated in July. The DEQ informed the pipeline company that it could reapply for the permit once the draft impact statement is issued, but that any work done within waters of the state or riparian buffers before a 401 permit is issued may be a violation of North Carolina law.
“This may seem like just an administrative decision, but it shows just how hard the pipeline company wants to rush this project by trying to get a state permit that has to be grounded in information that’s not even out yet,” said Ridge Graham, North Carolina Field Coordinator with Appalachian Voices. “It’s promising to think that the DEQ will not rubber stamp this project, which is not needed, and hopefully do the right thing by preventing the Southgate project from being built at all.”
Graham noted that DEQ Assistant Secretary Sheila Holman sent a letter to FERC in November stating that her agency “remain[s] unconvinced that the Southgate project is necessary.”
“This is a win for landowners, tourists and farmers, as well as for water quality and the environment as a whole,” said Steven Pulliam with community group Good Stewards of Rockingham. “Numerous streams and wetlands would be crossed along Southgate’s path which also passes dangerously close to homes and private wells. MVP has been unable to demonstrate proper execution of these crossings on its uncompleted and ever-inflating 300-mile mainline project.”