Category Archives: Certificates of Approval

Army Corps Asked to Revoke Permit for ACP

On June 22, 2018, Appalachian Mountain Advocates requested that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suspend and revoke the permit the agency issued for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in February under the Nationwide Permit 12 program because of the inability of the applicant to comply with West Virginia requirements that limit stream crossings construction for a duration of 72 hours. The request was made on behalf of five ABRA members: the Sierra Club, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Appalachian Voices and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. A copy of the Appalmad letter to the Army Corps is available here.

The first six-pages of the 265-page document spell out the basic reasoning for the request.

The request to the Army Corps follows a decision on June 21, 2018, by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to grant a stay of the same permit (under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act) for the Mountain Valley Pipeline for similar reasons. See here for our post on that court decision.

Service Authority Board Votes 2-2 on Selling Water for ACP

At their meeting on June 21, 2018, the Nelson County Service Authority Board voted 2-2 on the question of setting a rate for Dominion to purchase 40,000 gallons of water per day from Lake Monocan for ACP construction, to be used primarily for the proposed HDD drilling at Reeds Gap. (George Miller, Executive Director of the Service Authority, stated that they cannot provide water for testing.)

There are normally 5 members of the Board, one from each district, but Russell Otis resigned last week and thus did not attend. Tommy Harvey and Robert McSwain voted against setting a rate for Dominion, Gary Sherwood and David Hight voted in favor of setting a rate. Since there was a tie vote, the matter will be discussed again at the July meeting, at which time the composition of the Board will have changed, with Justin Shimp, Ernie Reed, and Jesse Rutheford replacing Harvey, Otis, and McSwain.

According to the News & Advance, “with the contract, which could result in $3.5 million for the authority over two years, yet to be finalized, ACP indicated after the meeting it also is exploring other options for the water it needs for construction. ‘We’ll continue working with the service authority in the hopes of reaching an agreement,’ said Aaron Ruby, spokesman for leading ACP partner Dominion Energy, ‘but at this time we’re moving forward with our alternative solution to meet the project’s water needs.’ That alternative would be to truck in water each day for use in the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) process that would bore a path for the pipeline under the Blue Ridge Parkway from Nelson County into Augusta County. HDD construction is planned to start this summer, with activity focused near Beech Grove Road and along the border with Augusta County. The trucking alternative would mean increased traffic in the Wintergreen area to at least 10 daily trips by trucks to and from the site.”

US 4th Circuit Issues Stay on MVP’s WV Stream Crossings

A report on June 21, 2018, from Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights (POWHR):

The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a motion for stay on all stream crossing construction in the Huntington District of West Virginia June 21. The order was issued as part of the challenge to the use of the Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide 12 Permit along the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The original Motion for Stay was filed May 22.

In the lawsuit, environmental organizations are asserting that the Army Corps Nationwide 12 permit cannot be applied to the Elk, Greenbrier, Gauley, and Meadow Rivers in West Virginia because the pipeline cannot cross those streams within the WV required limit of 72 hours. The Corps conceded that fact and partially suspended the permit for just those four crossings. Attorneys with Appalachian Mountain Advocates, who are working on behalf of the environmental groups, are arguing that because the permit cannot be applied to four crossings along the route, the entire permit must be suspended until the court reviews it.

The press release from Sierra Club says, “The effect of today’s court order is to prohibit MVP from construction activities in 591 streams and wetlands in West Virginia and it may affect construction along the entire route of the pipeline. Under its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorization, pipeline construction is allowed only if MVP has secured all federal authorizations.”

Sierra Club et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — May 22 Motion for Stay

Sierra Club et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — Order Granting Motion for Stay

More Than 13,000 Public Comments

On June 18, 2018, the Roanoke Times reported that 2 Pipeline Projects Draw More than 13,000 Public Comments. The comments were submitted to the State Water Control Board (SWCB) to give input on how the Mountain Valley and the Atlantic Coast Pipelines would impact Virginia’s water bodies. The SWCB received approximately 7,100 emails on the ACP and 2,600 emails on the MVP. Another 3,500 letters, reports, and other paper records were submitted, but as of the article’s press time it was unclear how many were related to each pipeline.

Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) has posted on their Web page an overview of copies of comments they received, click here to access.

Ann Regn, spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, said that comments must be reviewed by DEQ staff members in order to present the information to the SWCB. The SWCB is currently scheduled to meet on August 21, 2018, but there are requests for it to meet sooner, particularly as the MVP has already caused environmental damage and even more is expected as construction continues. Many individuals and organizations are calling for a halt to all construction on both the ACP and the MVP while the over 13,000 comments are carefully considered by the SWCB.  Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, held a news conference on June 18 to push for a state-ordered stop to construction while damage is occurring.

State Legislators File Comments with SWCB

Press release from Delegate Mark Keam’s office, June 15, 2018:

Virginia State Legislators File Comments Urging State Water Control Board to Conduct Stream-By-Stream Analysis of Methane Gas Pipelines’ Impacts on Water Quality

RICHMOND – On Friday, June 15, 2018, sixteen members of the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates jointly filed comments with the State Water Control Board in the pending regulatory proceeding on the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline proposals.

In an unprecedented move, the group representing more than ten percent of the 140 combined members of Virginia’s state legislature expressed “serious concerns about how these projects would have severe negative impacts on Virginia’s water resources.”

These legislators believe that the Commonwealth should fully utilize the legal authority it has under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act to protect the water quality in Virginia, rather than simply rely upon the Nationwide Permit 12 issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Nationwide Permit 12 are generally used by the federal government to handle routine projects that have only minimal effects on water quality.

“Some supporters of pipelines assert that these projects are already approved by the federal government, and so our state has no role,” stated Delegate Mark Keam who helped draft the public comments. “But the facts and the law are clear – the Commonwealth is responsible for protecting Virginia waters, not some bureaucrats in Washington who have never even visited the hundreds of rivers and streams that these pipelines will cross.”

Keam and other legislators urge the Water Board and the Department of Environmental Quality to conduct stream-by-stream analyses of all proposed crossings in Virginia and to require all necessary standards to protect Virginia’s water uses from dangers of the pipelines, including aquatic life, recreation, wildlife, and drinking water supplies.

Read the legislators’ letter to the State Water Control Board here.

FERC Upholds MVP Approval in 3-2 Vote

The three Republican Trump appointees on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) voted on June 15, 2018, to uphold FERC’s previous approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and denied a request for rehearing. Democrats Cheryl LaFleur and Richard Glick dissented, questioning the finding of a market demand, since all of the pipeline’s shipping agreements are with corporate affiliates of the project’s five developers. When the rehearing request was filed in late 2017, FERC issued a tolling order, meaning the project was allowed to go forward while awaiting FERC’s action on the rehearing request. Thus, construction is well already underway. However, FERC’s formal refusal to rehear means a direct legal challenge by pipeline opponents may now go forward.

See news coverage of FERC’s denial in the Roanoke Times and the Richmond Times-Dispatch.