On Thursday morning June 21, 2018, a 10’ x 35’ banner was hung on the front of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality central offices in the Bank of America Building, downtown Richmond, VA. The banner read “DEQ, 20 Violations. 0 Fines? Do your job! Stop work now! Fracking Poisons water. We are not a sacrificial zone!”
The DEQ’s central offices are in the Bank of America Building on 1111 E Main Street, Richmond, VA and are guarded by Bank of America private security and Richmond City Police. According to River Healers, in January 2018, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality moved all 322 of its central office employees into the 14th, 15th, 17th and 22nd floors of the 24-story Bank of America Building and signed a 124-month lease for 81,553 square feet (street view). Bank of America is the lead financier of two fracked gas pipeline projects currently being constructed in Virginia. Bank of America is the top bank investor of both the Mountain Valley Pipeline ($141 million invested) and Atlantic Coast Pipeline ($255 million invested). Bank of America also finances exploitative fracking companies and extractive oil and gas industries internationally.
River Healers says that 25 sediment and erosion violations have been reported by citizen monitors as part of the Mountain Valley Watch, yet DEQ has failed to issue a single a warning, violation, or fine to MVP contractors or Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC. Additionally, River Healers notes that Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources, Matt Strickler has said that the state does not have the budget or the needed number of trained employees to currently monitor the MVP for violations, yet Governor Ralph Northam has spent over $100,000 dollars for state and county police to act on rural pipeline resistance in Bent Mountain, VA alone, and that citations continue to be issued to citizen monitors working with water protection groups, yet the state has failed to put employees on the ground to monitor pipeline construction and violations.