FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 11, 2023
Yesterday, the North Carolina General Assembly voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of HB 600, the Regulatory Reform Act of 2023. A section of this bill provides special loopholes for energy transmission projects, like pipelines, that are built in the state, giving them a much faster and more lenient Clean Water Act review by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.
Specifically, these loopholes would give the agency only 60 days to complete its analysis of all of the impacts to the streams, rivers and lakes that a project might cross, no matter the size of the project or how much it might impact major drinking water sources. This bill would also require DEQ to only review “discharges” made by the project, instead of all activities that might harm our waters like runoff from construction or accidents during drilling.
DEQ previously denied the Clean Water Act permit for MVP Southgate in 2020 and in 2021, due to unnecessary water quality impacts and disturbance of the environment in North Carolina.
“MVP and its contractors have been unable to construct a pipeline without breaking water quality laws in each state that it has passed through, racking up over 500 violations,” said Ridge Graham, North Carolina Program Manager for Appalachian Voices. “Instead of trying to build the pipeline safely and in accordance with environmental laws, MVP worked with its friends in Congress to force state and federal agencies to grant the project the authorizations it needed this summer. In another extraordinary move, Congress also stripped the communities along its route from being able to challenge these forced permits in court.”
Now, MVP has secured another favor from complicit North Carolina politicians to help win approval of its Southgate project, which wasn’t part of the congressional action, making it harder for the agency to fulfill its responsibility to maintain the integrity of our waterways and limiting the ability of the communities and families along the route of Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate in Rockingham and Alamance counties to adequately protect themselves.
“We are deeply disappointed that MVP has once again bent the rules that are in place to protect the people and places that would be harmed by the recklessness of this project’s developers,” said Graham. ”In the process, the General Assembly has weakened our state’s ability to review future projects that might do the same.”