Category Archives: DEQ

DEQ Extends ACP and MVP Comment Period, MVP Suspended in WV

The Richmond Times Dispatch for May 31, 2018, reported that the deadline for comments on the adequacy of water crossing permits for both the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipeline to the Virginia State Water Control Board will be extended. The Department of Environmental Quality Web site went down over a week before the May 30 comment deadline and (as of early Friday morning June 1) is still down. DEQ spokesperson Ann Regn said they hope to have the site up and running later on June 1, and that the comment deadline will be extended by however many days the Web site was down.

This means you can continue to send your comments to DEQ! The email addresses for comments are:

For additional instructions (you must reference specific water bodies in your comments) and suggestions on what to say, see our earlier posts on:

In the same article, the Times-Dispatch reported that in West Virginia the Army Corps of Engineers halted “any work on the Mountain Valley Pipeline near four river crossings until it can determine whether its permit allowing work there is in compliance with West Virginia environmental rules. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups asked this month for the permit suspension until a federal judge rules on their lawsuit claiming the permit is too broad in scope.”

Missing, Inaccurate, Incomplete

Photo by Dima Holmes

Those commenting to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in response to the State Water Control Board (SWCB) request for technical information on specific wetland and/or stream crossings are documenting missing, inaccurate and incomplete wetland and stream information in Table B-1 Revised November 30, 2017, “Impact Table of Waters of the U.S. for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Norfolk District.” DEQ requires that all comments to the SWCB refer to specific wetland/stream crossing in the Table, a difficult thing to do if the table is inaccurate or incomplete.

The Executive Summary of the comment submitted by the Rockfish Valley Foundation (RVF) states the problem clearly:

We compared the Project Locations on Table B-1 with current ACP Construction Constraint Maps, Rev. 1, dated 3/16/18, pages 62 – 75. The ACP construction plan maps show the ACP pipeline, centerline, work areas, access roads, waterbody, wetland and wetland/waterbody SPCC Plan Restrictions and other information including site identification reference numbers for of each feature. Additionally RVF used its local knowledge of streams and wetlands, flood plain maps, roadways and related historic information. RVF reviewed fourteen Project Locations shown on Table B-1 and added comments on nine additional waterbody/wetland locations missing and omitted from Table B-1. In all RVF reviewed twenty-three waterbody/wetland locations in this 5.4 mile stretch of the ACP. It is likely that the missing locations have not been considered by DEQ or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Additionally, the ACP construction maps show no consideration or planning for the roadway improvement necessary for heavy construction traffic on highways, bridges and side roads in the South Rockfish Valley. Such roadway improvement work will further significantly impact streams and wetlands and degrade water quality. On the basis of missing locations alone, the significant number of waterbody/wetland site omissions indicates that Table B-1 is seriously flawed, incomplete and unreliable as a basis for protecting the rivers, streams, wetlands and water quality standards in Nelson County and the Commonwealth.

Additionally, RVF’s review found thirteen Project Locations in which over one-half acre of wetland/waterbody area per location to be adversely impacted and likely destroyed by the ACP. These thirteen locations exceed the NMP (12) limitations. The cumulative effect of so many waterbody/wetland locations exceeding NMP (12) limits within the limited confines of the South Rockfish Valley present an excessive and unacceptable risk to the rivers, streams, wetlands, flood plains and ground waters of exposure to pollution, sedimentation, alteration of ground water flows, loss of trout streams, aquatic life, bird life, wild life, agricultural, brewery, cidery support, resort and recreational use. Additionally, RVF found numerous errors, omissions and mis-characterizations in Table B-1 which are described in the following paragraphs. Nelson County is dependent upon agri-tourism for it’s livelihood and support of related winery, brewery, cidery industries. Tourist come from all over the world to enjoy recreational and environmental features offered, The South Rockfish River is one source and watershed for the Rockfish River, a designated Virginia Scenic River.

RVF found so many errors, omissions and mischaracterizations in the 5.4 mile stretch of pipeline that RVF concludes the Corps NMP 12 Permit is insufficient to protect wetland and/or stream crossings and preserve the water quality for Nelson County, the general and regional conditions and does not satisfy the Section 401 permit authorizations. In conclusion, RVF recommends that the Water Board require a separate analysis of, and certification for each crossing of a waterbody/wetland on a stream-by-stream basis. Such certification process to include Public Hearings and the provision for, and consideration of, public comments. Such action is essential to protect the waters of the Commonwealth.

To view the full document for RVF Filing, click here.

Horizons Village has just submitted comments pertaining to an additional “missing” crossing in the South Rockfish Valley: a high-consequence wetland which the VA Dept of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) had officially designated as a Conservation Site and requested that ACP route around. Although the ACP route was altered slightly, the pipe itself is still slated to cross the Conservation Site and part of the wetland still lies within the proposed limits of disturbance.

And this wetland is also missing from the DEQ chart.

You can read the comments from Horizon Village here, including pictures and maps. If you want to delve deeper, Horizons Village has also included 18 attachments (221 pages) of substantiating information including copies of their prior contacts with FERC and DEQ, documentation from DCR and the Army Corps re the boundaries of this wetland, and the ACP-prepared easement map which confirms the location of their planned disturbance. Read the attachments (includes an index) here.

An important point raised about the missing and incomplete information in both the Rockfish Valley Foundation and the Horizons Village filings is:  If DEQ/Army Corps of Engineers/ACP’s list of “impacted” waterbodies is incomplete or inaccurate for those within just 5-6 miles in the South Rockfish Valley, waterbodies they have been told about in previous comments, HOW MANY OTHERS IN THE ACP PATH ARE ALSO MISSING?

Even Dominion Says MVP Contractor Is Incompetent

Writing in Blue Virginia on May 28, 2018, Jon Sokolow reports that yes, Even Dominion Energy Says Mountain Valley Pipeline Contractor Is Incompetent. Mounting evidence that that MVP and its contractor, Precision Pipeline, LLC were wreaking havoc on Virginia’s water and land resources led the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to order a temporary stop at a construction site in Franklin County.

Sokolow writes, “It turns out that Dominion’s wholly owned subsidiary, Dominion Transmission, Inc. (“DTI”) has been fighting Precision Pipeline in federal court for almost three years in a battle royale over a pipeline that Precision built for Dominion several years ago in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. That fracked gas pipeline, which was part of Dominion’s larger Appalachian Gateway Project, was a relatively small 30 inches in diameter and ‘only’ 55-miles long. The case is pending in federal court in Richmond and is expected to go to trial in October.

“Precision completed and was paid for the project – and then sued Dominion for $86 million in additional charges that it claims it is owed. Dominion denies it owes anything more and points, in part, to a series of expert reports that it says document Precision’s incompetence in building the pipeline.”

One report, prepared for Dominion by Civil & Environmental Consultants, published for the first time in Blue Virginia, includes a long and meticulously documented list of Precision Pipeline’s incompetencies that caused landslides:

  • At least thirteen landslides occurred during construction of the pipeline built by Precision for the Appalachian Gateway Project.
  • Fill composed of unsuitable materials and improperly compacted contributes to landslides
  • “Landslides occurred due to failure to install subsurface drains in high-risk or seepage areas, failure to provide adequate surface water controls, failure to remove wood chips and other organic debris from fill slope areas, failure to properly construct ESC features, and failure to adequately compact fill.”

Sokolow points out that the words in the report are “not the words of activists, or tree sitters, or affected landowners. These are the words of an engineering firm hired by Dominion!”

And he notes that the report deals only with landslides, not with sedimentation problems, nor with damage to drinking water, property values, tourism, and the local economy.

He concludes, “So Governor Northam – and I cannot believe I am writing these words – maybe on this one you should listen to Dominion!  Stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline before Virginia’s future – and your legacy – are drowned in a muddy landslide.”

1,000 Streams, 800 Wetlands: Send Your Comments


The Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline will cut through 1,000 streams and rivers and damage almost 800 acres of wetlands in Virginia, traversing rugged mountain terrain, steep slopes, and sensitive habitats, threatening water sources for both rural and urban Virginians.

Take action to tell Governor Northam and his state agencies to halt construction on these pipelines and require complete stream-by-stream analysis of their impact on water quality.

Governor Northam and his Department of Environmental Quality are asking for public comments on the impacts these pipelines will have on Virginia’s water quality — and they need to hear from you.

Comment period ends at midnight on May 30, 2018.

Send your comments to DEQ (instructions and addresses here).

Note: As of this writing (8 am on May 25) the DEQ Website has been completely down and offline since May 22. This causes a significant problem for people who are trying to use DEQ’s chart to find the official identifiers so that they can reference the specific crossings that they want to comment on. Friends of Nelson has posted the chart of ACP crossings here. You consider submitting comments through the USPS if the website problem persist.

Call the Governor’s office and demand a halt to construction until stream-by-stream analysis on construction impact is complete: 804-786-2211

Sign a petition (or sign all of them!) asking for stream-buy-stream impact studies:

Impact Table of Waters Crossed by ACP

All written comments submitted to DEQ by the May 30, 2018, deadline must refer to a specific wetland or stream crossing, and comments must reference exact wetlands and streams crossings by the identifiers.  Unfortunately, as of May 24, 2018, the DEQ Website has been down for over 24 hours, meaning no one can access the chart of identifiers on that DEQ Website.  Friends of Nelson has put the table on our Website for your convenience and use.

Here is the table of crossing identifiers for the ACP project

We are waiting to hear whether the May 30 deadline for comments will be extended because of the problems people have encountered with the DEQ Website.  Stay tuned.

MVP Construction Halted in Franklin County

 

Photo by Emily Beckner Guilliams

On May 20, 2019, the Roanoke Times reported Construction halted at Mountain Valley Pipeline work site following severe erosion in Franklin County, saying, “State regulators have put a stop to construction of part of the Mountain Valley Pipeline swamped by a rainstorm, saying work cannot continue until proper erosion control measures are established. Crews were using heavy equipment to cut trees and clear land along the natural gas pipeline’s right of way in Franklin County when heavy rains Thursday night and Friday morning swept away much of the soil they had unearthed.”

Department of Environmental Quality spokesperson Ann Regn said DEQ will investigate why check dams and other erosion control measures failed to prevent the flow of mud, sediment, and muddy water. Even before the spring rain and thunderstorms began, regulators had received calls from the public concerned that heavy equipment being used to remove trees and clear a 125-foot swath for pipeline construction was exposing the land to potential runoff problems. Regulators have already documented other problems with MVP sediment and runoff control on the pipeline route, including on Forest Service roads.

Predictably, the “best in class” erosion control measures failed.  Also predictably, MVP blamed all the problems on the weather.