In a letter dated May 24, 2017, the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) has asked Governor Terry McAuliffe to reject the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ’s) latest attempt to evade its responsibilities to protect our waters and our communities from damages that would result from construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).
This urgent request was prompted by statements from DEQ officials indicating that the State is reneging on its promise to conduct full, site-specific regulatory reviews under the Clean Water Act and state law.
After announcing that DEQ would conduct individual Clean Water Act section 401 reviews for each pipeline on April 6, 2017, a Department spokesperson stated in an email that “the ‘individual’ certification looks at each wetland, stream crossing, etc. separately to determine specific requirements that would be necessary.” We have now learned that this assertion was untrue. Instead, DEQ proposes to exclude damages from stream and wetland crossings from the individual review processes, depriving the public of the chance to comment on these activities.
DEQ wants to consider waterbody crossings to be covered under rubber stamp approvals from the Corps of Engineers and a water quality certification supposed to cover it.
As explained in DPMC’s letter, the approach DEQ now proposes to follow betrays Governor McAuliffe’s promises that the State would apply the most stringent environmental protection standards to these projects. This approach would also be illegal and technically inadequate for at least three reasons:
- The blanket approval Virginia issued for the Corps of Engineers permit is legally unsupportable. DEQ has no evidence or analysis to ensure covered activities can meet Virginia standards. DPMC has filed a Notice of Appeal of a state court challenge.
- DEQ scientists have described dire results that could result from waterbody crossings and asked for the detailed data required to prevent long-term impairments. To claim these impacts can be covered by a general approval that was given without consideration of site-specific factors would be irresponsible.
- To consider those water quality impacts resulting from waterbody crossings in isolation from all the other activities related to the projects is both scientifically and legally invalid.
As DPMC investigator David Sligh concluded in the letter to Governor McAuliffe:
We and the many thousands of Virginians concerned about the damages to our water resources that would result from these pipelines anxiously await your response. Please assure us that you will reject dangerous and illegal shortcuts to the regulatory process that the State of Virginia is obligated and has promised to conduct.
Let the Governor Hear from You!
Tell him you will not accept his administration’s failure to do its duty, to protect Virginia’s water and its people – as he has repeatedly promised. Send an email to Governor McAuliffe (c/o Chief of Staff Paul Reagan at firstname.lastname@example.org). Or call his office, at 804-786-2211.
DPMC Letter to Governor McAuliffe, 05/24/17
Richmond Times-Dispatch, 05/24/17
Roanoke Times, 05/24/17
Washington Post, 05/25/17
News Virginian, 05/25/17
Blue Virginia, 05/25/17
Bacon’s Rebellion, 05/25/17
Augusta Free Press, 05/25/17
The Daily Progress, 05/26/17
News Leader, 05/26/17