Category Archives: DEQ

Dereliction of Duty: SWCB Chair Did Not Understand Authority

Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition has revealed that the Chair of the State Water Control Board did not understand the authority of the Board, and therefore the votes on the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines were not properly informed by law.

DPMC reports they have learned that Robert Dunn, Chairman of the Virginia State Water Control Board, did not understand the ramifications of the Board’s actions on water quality certifications for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). This shocking information calls the Board’s process and decisions into serious question. Chairman Dunn’s failure to inform himself of the facts about the Board’s authority before taking votes on these enormously damaging and far-reaching projects is an outrageous dereliction of duty.

Dunn sent an email to the Richmond Times Dispatch saying:

Read your article in today‘s Richmond TD.  You stated someone cast a [sic] anti-pipeline vote and someone cast a pro-pipeline vote.  I do not believe the State Water Control Board has the authority to approve or disapprove the pipeline.  The vote was not for or against the pipeline. Do you understand what the SWCB voted on?  I believe the vote had to deal with permits to address water quality and standards.  Question for you:  Does or can the pipeline be built if the SWCB does not grant a permit??  If so, who has control?  In other words does SWCB action have ability to stop the pipeline??? (emphasis added by DPMC)

Of course, the legal reality is that the Clean Water Act gives the state an absolute veto authority over any federally-licensed project that might violate its water quality requirements. The information submitted for the Board’s consideration before any votes were taken contains detailed legal analyses of the state’s authorities and role in regard to the pipeline processes.  Thousands of people throughout Virginia understand that states have the power to deny approvals and thereby stop bad projects—clearly, Chairman Dunn does not.

Dunn’s question: “Does or can the pipeline be built if the SWCB does not grant a permit??” shows a failure to carry out his duty to understand the laws and regulations he’s charged with applying. If Mr. Dunn had questions about the scope of the Board’s authority, he should have sought the answer from those involved in the process and the official record upon which he was obligated to base his votes. And he should have made those inquiries before participating in the Board’s decisions, not months after taking his first vote on the pipeline certifications and after three Board meetings where these issues were discussed.

Dunn’s failure to do what was necessary to understand his proper role as a Board member and, therefore, his willingness to cast votes without learning the facts and law that should have governed him should disqualify him from continued service on the Board. We call on Mr. Dunn to resign immediately. If Dunn fails to do so, Governor Northam must act now to remove him from the Board and replace him with a person who will do his or her duty.

For more information, see DPMC’s article, Dereliction of Duty
 

Say NO to Dominion’s Application to Release Air Pollution


The comment period for the Air Quality Permit has been extended to September 21, 2018. There is still time for you to tell the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board to deny Dominion’s application for a permit to release air pollution that will threaten the health and well-being of residents in the Union Hill neighborhood and beyond. Don’t wait – let your voice be heard!

Submit your comments to:

DEQ, Piedmont Regional Office
Re: Buckingham Compressor Station

E-mail:
airdivision1@deq.virginia.gov

Mail:
Piedmont Regional Office
4949-A Cox Rd.
Glen Allen, VA 23060

Fax:
(804) 527-5106

What is the concern?

The draft permit prepared by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is woefully deficient, failing to provide the analyses and the levels of protection the law requires.

Dozens of people spoke at a public hearing on September 11th, most explaining technical and legal problems with the proposal and opposing issuance of the permit. Please add your voice to that strong message, to let the citizen members of the Air Board know you oppose this illegal and unethical proposal to victimize citizens for private profit.

What to say?

Even if you lack technical expertise, you can raise important issues the Board is legally-obligated to consider.

These include:

  • The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) is not needed to supply energy to the areas Dominion claims would be served and
  • DEQ has failed to properly consider whether the placement of the facility is appropriate or to acknowledge the violation of environmental justice principles.

For further ideas, information, and background, go to Wild Virginia’s page on commenting.

Large Turnout for Air Quality Hearing

Over 150 people attended the September 11, 2018, hearing conducted in Buckingham by the Virginia State Air Control Board (SACB) to receive comments on the proposed compressor station for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). More than 60 people spoke out against Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline compressor station in Union Hill by challenging the draft air permit.

You may view videos of the hearing on either Facebook or YouTube.

You can still speak up! The public comment period for the air permit has been EXTENDED until September 21See here for information and links to help you make your comments.

Show up! Stand with Union Hill this Sunday, September 16 (to be held as scheduled) and each month at the Circle of Protection

News coverage of the hearing may be read in Augusta Free Press, Blue Virginia, and the Virginia Mercury.

Hurricane Could Devastate Pipeline Projects

A September 11, 2018 Washington Post article, Hurricane could devastate Virginia pipeline project that is already struggling with changing weather, points out that the wet summer of 2018 “has already overcome some efforts to prevent runoff and erosion” along then Mountain Valley Pipeline route, and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will face similar problems if construction begins on that.

State officials say that even if the projects meet all construction guidelines, “those guidelines are based on standards that do not account for recent changes in weather patterns. …. In some cases, a level of rain that once may have occurred every two years has instead happened more than once in a month, staff members said. ‘There have certainly been conversations that given precipitation and climatic changes that . . . maybe there should be a different standard, but at this moment that’s what your regulation says,’ Melanie Davenport, the director of water permitting, told the [State Water Control] board.”

Department of Environmental Quality officials, their numbers reduced after a decade of budget and staff cuts, are unable to monitor the construction properly, especially given the steep and rough terrain and the many stream crossings of both the MVP and ACP.

Erosion controls have already proved inadequate for current levels of rainfall, and pipeline zones could be devastated by Florence. David Sligh, who is retired from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and now works with the Wild Virginia advocacy group, spoke to the Post: “‘I don’t believe they can, in some of these circumstances, do anything that would be adequate,’ he said. ‘That’s the real crime here, if I can use that word. People have known, the companies have known, DEQ has known that the pollution control measures are inadequate. The fact they’ve been allowed to go forward makes me very angry.'”

In the Neighborhood


A video about the neighborhood around the proposed compressor station.

Weigh in as Virginia officials consider the Atlantic Coast Pipeline compressor station.

Let the Virginia Air Board know that compressor stations like the one Dominion is planning for Union Hill pose health risks for neighbors and pollute the surrounding community’s air.

How to comment?  Go here.

Challenge the Compressor Station Air Permit


Send your comments to DEQ to challenge the air permit for the proposed ACP compressor station in Union Hill by September 11, 2018. Help deny the air permit for the ACP Compressor Station that would endanger and diminish the health and land values of all residents of Buckingham County and destroy the lives of the historic African American community of Union Hill. No compressor station = No ACP.  To comment, follow instructions on the Friends of Buckingham page.

The Department of Environmental Quality Public Hearing on the draft air permit for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline Compressor Station will be Tuesday September 11, 2018, from 5:00 pm to 9:30 pm.

After you have sent your written comments to DEQ, please come to the September 11 public hearing and pre-hearing vigil It will be at the Buckingham County Middle School, 1184 High School Rd, Buckingham, VA 23921 (off of Hwy 60/West James Anderson Hwy).  Arrive at 4 PM to sign up to speak, and for vigil, music, snacks, press conference and materials to help you draft your comment. The sooner you arrive to sign up to comment the better!  Comments will be limited to 3 minutes, and, if possible, it would be good to have a written copy of your comments at the hearing to give to DEQ staff.

This compressor station, a giant one, even by industry standards would bring loud constant noise and release toxic poisons into Buckingham’s air and water. The health of children is particularly vulnerable to the methane, formaldehyde, arsenic, benzene, xylene and other compounds the compressor will regularly release. The compressor station would create a fire and explosion hazard completely beyond the capacity of distant volunteer firefighters. The station wold have few staff on site and would be built on a former slave plantation atop the unmarked slave graves of Union Hill ancestors.