Category Archives: Certificates of Approval

VADEQ Lifts Voluntary MVP Work Stoppage

Based on soil erosion and sediment controls issues identified during inspections and on complaint inspections by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (with most complaints having been filed by private citizens in the absence of active DEQ inspections), Mountain Valley Pipeline agreed to temporarily suspend work on June 29, 2018. Work was to resume only after MVP received approval by DEQ.

Now, just two working days later, in the late afternoon on July 3, 2018 (clearly aiming for minimal public attention the day before a holiday), the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality released two of three areas for continued construction.

The statement posted on the DEQ Web page says, “Three areas of the Mountain Valley Pipeline  project have been evaluated. After completion of DEQ inspections to ensure proper soil erosion and sediment controls are implemented, on July 3, 2018, two have been released to work. DEQ inspectors will continue to be on site to monitor and review pipeline construction throughout the project. The public is welcome to email complaints, submit pollution reports on the DEQ website, or call (804) 698-4003. Complaints and concerns will be investigated as DEQ receives them. A summary of complaint investigations and site inspections is available.”

Actions to Halt ACP Stream Crossings Filed

A coalition of five Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) members filed a petition on July 3, 2018, with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals for review of stream-crossing activities for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The coalition, which includes the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Appalachian Voices, Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the Sierra Club is represented by Appalachian Mountain Advocates. A similar legal action was taken by the coalition regarding the Mountain Valley Pipeline, resulting in a favorable ruling. At this time, ACP construction is only authorized in West Virginia and North Carolina, as Virginia’s water qualification certification is not yet in effect.

The organizations also formally asked today that the United States Army Corps of Engineers stay the stream construction permit during litigation. If the Corps refuses to stay the permit, the coalition will ask the Court to do so.

For more information, see the July 3, 2018, press release from Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

MVP Temporarily Suspends Virginia Construction

The Roanoke Times reported on June 29, 2018 that the Mountain Valley Pipeline has temporarily suspended construction in Virginia.

Here is the statement from Mountain Valley spokeswoman Natalie Cox:  “Since inception of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) project, the MVP team has been closely coordinating with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) to ensure appropriate soil erosion and sediment controls were implemented, and restored where necessary, along the pipeline route. After direct consultation with VDEQ, and in light of the recent extraordinary rainfall experienced in Virginia, we have agreed to temporarily suspend pipeline installation activities, including welding, trenching, and stringing of pipe, in Virginia. The MVP project team takes its environmental stewardship responsibilities very seriously and wants to redirect its work efforts to focus exclusively on erosion controls affected by recent weather events. As the controls are enhanced and restored at given points along the route, MVP will continue to coordinate with VDEQ to resume full pipeline construction activities in those areas.”

A statement released by DEQ said, “Based on issues identified during inspections and complaint inspections by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) project team has agreed to temporarily suspend pipeline installation in Virginia. To ensure proper soil erosion and sediment controls are implemented, MVP will direct crews to enhance and restore controls along the pipeline route. All related construction activities within the project’s right of way (a 125-foot wide construction corridor) will resume only after MVP receives approval by DEQ. A list of investigated sites is available on the DEQ website (www.DEQ.Virginia.gov/MVP). DEQ inspectors will continue to be on site to monitor and review pipeline construction throughout the project. The public is welcome to email complaints to MountainValleyPipeline@DEQ.Virginia.gov or submit pollution reports on the DEQ website at www.DEQ.Virginia.gov/MVP. Public comments, complaints and concerns will be investigated as DEQ receives them.”

SELC Says Agency Rolled Back Restrictions for Dominion

Photo by Holly Marcus

The ABRA Newsletter reports that the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) rolled back construction restrictions to help Dominion with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline:

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), in the closing days of the McAuliffe administration, rolled back restrictions on construction in streams to help Dominion and Atlantic Coast Pipeline developers move the project along faster. The modifications granted, which were pursuant to a September 8, 2017 request from Dominion Energy, would effectively weaken protections for Virginia water and wildlife, were made without public input or notice from Virginia to the public, despite widespread opposition to the project. Dominion had previously agreed to all of the restrictions as set out in the project’s environmental impact statement, but it sought waivers to the Time of Year Restrictions (TOYRs) because the company could not meet its original construction schedule. The revelation was announced June 28 by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), which obtained the information through documents obtained through the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. In a June 22 letter to Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matt Strickler, who oversees VDGIF, SELC said:

The waivers granted include rescission of the rainbow, brook, and brown trout TOYRs on the Jackson River, one of Virginia’s premier trout rivers, and permission to conduct in-stream construction on at least six Cowpasture River tributaries during the James Spinymussel TOYR. For other streams, such as Stuart Run, Morris Run, Dowell’s Draft, and Back Creek (Augusta County), VDGIF agreed to totally rescind the applicable trout TOYRs. For thirteen Mill Creek tributaries, the agency offered to allow in-stream construction during the James Spinymussel restricted period. In many cases, VDGIF made waivers more extensive than what Atlantic and Dominion had asked for.

Continuing, SELC pointed out to Secretary Strickler:

These rescissions and alterations of TOYRs put in place to protect important public resources are not consistent with the Governor’s promise to protect Virginia rivers and streams from harm caused by pipeline construction and should be reversed. We further request that Virginia publicly commit to strict enforcement of the various resource protection measures imposed by state agencies, and that Virginia will not grant requests for alteration or waiver of these restricted periods and other protective measures without formal public notice and at least a 30-day comment period.

This story was also reported on June 28, 2018, in the Augusta Free Press.

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.”