Category Archives: DEQ

DEQ Posts Info on Erosion & Stormwater Plans for ACP and MVP

Plans for erosion and sediment control, as well as for stormwater management, for the ACP and MVP were made available this week on the website of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The posting on the DEQ website states:

“Virginia state law and regulations establish that land disturbance associated with pipeline construction activities must meet Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) and Stormwater Management (SWM) requirements to protect surface water quality during and after construction completion. State law further mandates that natural gas pipeline utilities (and certain other utilities) meet the requirements for ESC and SWM under a DEQ approved Annual Standards and Specifications Program.

Under the required Annual Standards and Specifications Program utilities are not required to submit site specific ESC and SWM plans to DEQ for approval. However, as an additional measure to ensure protection of state waters DEQ has required the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) projects to submit their site specific ESC and SWM plans to DEQ for review and approval.

ACP and MVP site specific ESC and SWM plans will address every foot of land disturbance related to pipeline construction, including access roads and construction lay-down areas.”

Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition points out that, “The DEQ has previously stated it will review those plans (stormwater management and erosion and sediment control plans) separately from its review under the Clean Water Act Section 401. As a result, the State Water Control Board’s decision whether to certify that construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will not harm state waters will not be informed by the essential details that the erosion and runoff control plans should provide. This is a concern that ABRA and many of its members have voiced to DEQ and the Water Control Board.”

Call Your State Representative: Tell DEQ to Protect Us

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is currently speeding through the review of plans to cross hundreds of Virginia water bodies with the massive fracked-gas Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines. Under the Clean Water Act, the DEQ has the authority to determine whether or not the pipeline mitigation plans meet our Commonwealth’s water quality standards.

Eight Virginia state representatives have already spoken to the DEQ asking them to protect Virginians and our water. We need you to call now and:

  • If your representative is one of the eight, thank them for their support
  • If your representative is NOT one of the eight, urge them to put Virginians over corporate profit and contact DEQ with our concerns!

An Appalachian Voices Web page lists the Representatives that have contacted DEQ, and those that have not, and provides contact information so you can call your representatives to thank them – or to urge them to protect the water we all rely upon.

Letter to DEQ Urges Careful Review of Pipeline Company Practices

Friends of Nelson Board member Marilyn Shifflett has written a thoroughly researched letter to David Paylor, Director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), urging DEQ to carefully consider the long-term consequences of pipeline construction and citing abundant evidence of the extensive damage done by companies during construction and their unwillingness to address permanent damage after construction completion.

In her letter, dated July 14, 2017, she writes, “Patterns concerning construction of these projects have emerged that are alarming, to say the least. Included in this letter, are “situations” and violations during pipeline construction that are seen all too often. While the FERC has intervened in a small number of cases; in the majority of these situations, both the FERC and the Army Corps of Engineers in charge of issuing the nationwide permits for wetland and stream crossings have not reacted at all. The VA DEQ is inarguably now reviewing the greatest environmental challenge ever faced in our State from these two proposed mammoth pipelines. Thousands of acres of protective forested land will be stripped, and nearly two thousand streams will be crossed with countless wetland areas impacted. While the task is monumental, it’s vital that the VA DEQ consider the overall behavior of the natural gas industry and ongoing pipeline construction. The following information and related links serve as testament to this industry’s activities after lengthy reviews and permits are issued, and validates the concerns expressed by residents all along the routes of the ACP & MVP. The highly sensitive environmental areas coupled with the steeps slopes of these particular routes exacerbate the issues Virginians will likely be left to deal with if either or both of these pipelines are ever constructed.”

Shifflett goes on to summarize the extensive environmental, regulatory, and compressor station violations by a number of pipeline companies, including Dominion. She points out that “These pipeline companies routinely allow the violations to stack up, simply pay the fines, and consider them part of the cost of doing business. There is no clear intent on their part to honor agreements made to institute ‘best practices.’ The regulatory process often doesn’t react quickly enough to forestall damages, and the violation notice process is complicated and lengthy, allowing these companies to complete projects before damages can be further avoided. Is the VA DEQ prepared to monitor construction of both the ACP and the MVP simultaneously? Is the VA DEQ willing to shut down construction on the entire route through VA when the first violation occurs?”

She cites some specific examples of Dominion violations:

  • Dominon G-150 8″ pipeline in WV: These violations are a stark example of Dominion’s lack of commitment to best practices for a pipeline less than one fifth the diameter of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline; a small pipeline constructed on the steep slopes of West Virginia without many of the complications expected from the much larger ACP.
  • Dominion Transmission, Multiple Sites, PA & WV: Records from the Pipeline Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration cite Dominion for multiple safety and regulatory regulations.
  • Dominion Transmission, Fink Kennedy Storage, West Virginia: Again, Dominion is cited for multiple violations at this site from Sept., 2009 through June, 2010. Dominion has a pattern of lengthy response times to violations at their facilities and seems rarely to take corrective actions until violations and orders are issued. These are not the actions of a company committed to safe operation and concern for residents living nearby.

Shifflett concludes, “The preceding lengthy information is offered as a record of the behavior of the natural gas industry and stands as a testament to concerns expressed by Virginia residents along the routes of these pipelines…. The routes of the ACP and the MVP were chosen for cost savings related to easement purchases and relaxed regulation in sparsely populated areas. The VA DEQ is obligated to look beyond costs to these companies; judging these routes based solely on environmental realities. The majority of the ACP/MVP routes are through terrain unsuitable for a 42” high pressure pipeline and the damage will be irreparable. The deforestation of thousands of acres for right-of-ways, access roads, and temporary work spaces will leave a lasting impact on the Chesapeake Bay and the decades of efforts to clean up this precious Virginia resource. And certainly, the VA DEQ will realize after examining applications from these companies, that they have little to offer in the way of detailed slope analyses, and stream crossing plans that will avoid permanent damage to environmentally sensitive areas. Given the predictable actions of the natural gas industry, approval of the ACP or the MVP will surely lead to additional companies following suit and Virginia will be facing additional damage. With a 14% guaranteed return from FERC approval, Dominion and EQT will not be the only companies looking to profit off the backs of Virginia citizens. Virginia residents have taken the time to thoroughly review these projects and ask that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality do the same. Please reconsider allotted comment periods, and schedule public meeting only after all reports are available for review by residents.”

Read the full text of Shifflett’s letter here. The letter also appeared in full in The Recorder for July 20. 2017.

Tell McAuliffe Administration: Protect Our Waterways

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network has set up a Web page allowing you to quickly and easily submit your letter telling Governor Terry McAuliffe and DEQ Director David Paylor they must do a full, comprehensive review of the ACP and MVP impacts to water quality and to allow the public enough time to weigh in.  It’s quick, it’s easy – make your voice heard!

Next Steps: How to Stop These Pipelines!

Next Steps: How to stop these pipelines! Walking the Line: Into the Heart of Virginia ponders right next actions, looking back to early interviews for inspiration to keep on truckin’. Featuring landowner, Ernie Reed of Wild Virginia, and with Lakshmi Fjord of Friends of Buckingham, Joseph Jeeva Abbate of Yogaville Environmental Solutions, Kirk Bowers of Virginia Sierra Club, and Joyce Burton of Friends of Nelson. Since the June 23, 2017, interview with Ernie Reed, new public hearings have been announced by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for August. While these hearings are a bit of a sham (an ACP hearing in Harrisonburg? Rockingham County is not on or near the ACP route!), we still must turn out for them in force. Will you be one of the many people we need on each of these five dates? Stay tuned for how we will join together to send a clear and powerful message at these hearings. This fight will take all of all of us!

Thank You, Senator Deeds

State Senator Creigh Deeds has written to Molly Ward, Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources, David Paylor, Director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and Robert Dunn, Chair of the State Water Control Board, urging the Commonwealth of Virginia to “use the full scope of its authority to assess the impacts of the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines” and asking them “to conduct a thorough and transparent review of stream and wetland crossings, as well as all upland activities, and ensure that Virginia water quality standards are met.”

Deeds specifically asked that:

  • DEQ to perform individual 401 certifications for wetland and stream crossings, rather than relying on the Army Corps of Engineers’ (the Corps) Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12).
  • DEQ to postpone any public hearings or other activities that move forward with Section 401 certification until the pipeline developers have provided all information necessary for thorough DEQ and public review.   At the very least DEQ should extend any public comment periods on this issue to ninety days or more.
  • DEQ to expand the number and locations within impacted Counties for the Section 401 Certification public hearings to maximize opportunities for public input and participation.

Thank you, Senator Deeds!

Read the full letter here.