Category Archives: DEQ

Governor Wants MVP to Move Forward

Although all construction on the MVP has halted after FERC issued a “stop work” order on Friday August 3, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph reported on August 5, 2018, that during Governor Ralph Northam’s Saturday August 4 tour of Bluefield College, he said he wants the Mountain Valley Pipeline to move forward.

“‘I am supportive of moving forward (with the MVP),’ Northam said. ‘We need energy, but we need energy responsibly.’ Northam said he understands the problems associated with the pipeline, including landowner rights and the recent rain and flooding that have dumped ‘too much sediment into waterways. All along the pipeline they need to be conscious of the land and take people’s property rights into account,’ he said. ‘Any compliance issue … we are looking and watching the streams and the rivers closely.’ Northam said any problems with permits to cross federal land should be resolved and the state is cognizant of the work and its impact. ‘We have agencies in Virginia, like the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ),’ he said. ‘I have confidence they are monitoring what is going on. If there is an issue or problem they will (with intervention) be in compliance.'”

The Governor did not acknowledge that DEQ has not been doing its job, has issued violation notices only after repeated submissions by private citizens of documentation of violations, took weeks and gave many excuses before it finally made public the 13,000 comments on waterbody crossings from the comment period ending June 15 (even though the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition and Wild Virginia have worked together and posted on June 20 what DEQ said it couldn’t do yet).  And as of this writing, DEQ has still not posted the promised summary of comments.

Listen to the audio and read the transcript of the Governor in an August 8, 2018, radio interview as he continues to dodge questions and dodge responsibility while speaking in generalizations about his confidence in state agencies.

In his August 5, 2018, blog post, Deny 401 Certification for the ACP, Robert Whitescarver says, “The Virginia State Water Control Board must deny 401 certification for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). It should have denied 401 certification for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). Building these fracked gas pipelines through steep, rough terrain and karst geology is fraught with danger. Construction is already causing massive soil erosion that pollutes our streams, rivers, wetlands, and eventually the Chesapeake Bay.”

Whitescarver cites Northam’s campaign promise, “If we are going do to this, we are going to do it right,” and adds, “Governor Northam, it’s not being done right, and without the right steps forward from your administration, Virginia’s water resources and everyone in the path of these projects will remain at risk.” The blog post goes on to list the many ways in which both MVP and ACP construction are not being done right, and concludes, “Governor Northam, you and you alone can make this right. It’s time for your administration and its agencies to put the citizens of this Commonwealth – our health and safety – above the corporate interests putting us, and our environment, at risk.

Yes, as Northam himself said, “too much sediment” has been dumped into waterways. And Virginia citizens recognize that there has been too much evasion of responsibility by Northam and his administration.

Contact the Governor’s office and tell him so: 804-786-2211, or www.governor.virginia.gov/constituent-services/communicating-with-the-governors-office/

Air Quality Permit: Additional Information


On August 2, 2018, we posted a story about the comment period and hearings related to the draft air quality permit for the ACP’s proposed Buckingham compressor station (see Send Comments:  Air Quality Permit for Compressor Station).  Our story included instructions for how/where to comment.

Further detailed information about the process is on the DEQ Web page, see https://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Air/BuckinghamCompressorStationAirPermit.aspx

A few specifics from the DEQ page:

  • The Buckingham Compressor Station (BCS) draft permit is the subject of a public comment period beginning August 8, 2018 and ending September 11, 2018. The comment period is specifically for the BCS draft air permit and does not pertain to issues outside the scope of the draft permit such as zoning, noise, traffic or safety.
  • Comments will only be accepted during the formal comment period. Comments received either before or after the advertised start and end dates) August 8-September 11, 2018) will not be part of the record and will not be considered. Receipt confirmation will not be provided for comments received during the comment period.
  • The September 11, 2018, hearing is a listening session and not a question and answer session. Members of the agency in attendance will not be responding to questions or comments at that time.
  • Based on the strong public interest in this facility, it is anticipated attendance will be large. Those wishing to speak will be given a three-minute time restriction in order to allow as many people as possible that want to speak an opportunity to do so in the allotted time. Individuals that wish to make comments during the hearing should bring them in written form to provide to DEQ at the hearing.
  • At the end of the comment period, DEQ will compile, review and respond to comments. Comments similar in content may be aggregated for efficiency. DEQ will evaluate the comments and make changes to the draft permit as appropriate. DEQ responses and changes will be completed prior to finalizing any portion of the draft permit and a response to comments document will be prepared and made available to the public. [We wonder how long this will take, given that DEQ as of this date has not yet made available the comments on waterbody crossings from the comment period ending June 15, 2018.]
  • DEQ will present a report to the State Air Pollution Control Board (the board) on the permit. The board will take final action on the permit at a future meeting of the board. Consideration at that meeting is not a public hearing or new public comment opportunity on the draft permit. Only those persons who submitted official public comments on the draft permit between August 8 and September 11, 2018 may address the board. Furthermore, comments shall be limited to responding to the summary of the prior proceedings including DEQ’s summary of comments received during the public comment period provided to the board by DEQ.

A final section of the DEQ air quality Web page gives additional information on frequently asked questions not covered by the air permit, including site zoning, noise, light, traffic, worker safety, community safety, and facility need.

Send your comments to DEQ between August 8 and September 11!

Send Comments: Air Quality Permit for Compressor Station


The proposed 54,000 + horse power Atlantic Coast Pipeline Compressor Station 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. This is the only compressor station planned for the Virginia portion of the ACP. The permits for the pipeline and its compressor station are not complete and the project is currently being challenged in the courts.

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. Above and underground storage tanks create a fire and explosion hazard completely beyond the capacity of distant volunteer firefighters. The station has few staff on site and would be built on a former slave plantation atop the unmarked slave graves of Union Hill ancestors.  Please note that although the information provided by the Va Department of Environmental Quality puts this compressor station in the minor category, that is a technical term based on the amount of pollutants it can emit.  The environmental regulations do not protect our air water and health; they allow ACP to pollute up to very high levels that impact human and all life, especially those most vulnerable, the elderly and children.

There will be a community meeting on August 6, 2018, to discuss the air quality permit and how to comment on it at Union Hill Baptist Church, 1496 Union Hill Rd., Buckingham 23921.  Friends of Buckingham phone contact: 434 969 3229 ( Chad).  More information on the Friends of Buckingham Web page.

There will be a DEQ briefing on Thursday, August 16, 2018, 6-8 pm, Peter Francisco Auditorium, Buckingham County Administration Building, 13380 W. James Anderson Highway. The informational briefing will be a DEQ presentation to inform the public of the draft air quality permit review. An opportunity for questions related to the air quality permit will also be provided. No oral comments on the draft permit will be received at this briefing. [Come at 5 to pray and sing together.]

There will be a public hearing on Tuesday, September 11, 2018, from 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. or until all comments are received, whichever is earlier. The hearing on the air quality permit will be at Buckingham County Middle School, 1184 High School Road in Buckingham.  It is important to come as early as you can to sign up to speak!  [Come at 4 to pray and sing together.]

The public comment period for the compressor station draft air permit is August 8, 2018 until September 11, 2018.

HOW TO COMMENT: DEQ accepts comments by hand-delivery, e-mail, fax or postal mail. All comments and requests must be in writing and be received by DEQ during the comment period. The Director of DEQ has determined that the permit will go before the Board in accordance with 9 VAC 5-80-25 F.

DEQ contact for public comments, document requests, and additional information: Ann Regn; Phone: (804) 698-4442; Postal Mail: Piedmont Regional Office, RE: Buckingham Compressor Station, 4949-A Cox Rd, Glen Allen, VA 23060; E-mail: airdivision1@deq.virginia.gov; Fax: (804) 527-5106.

The public may review the draft permit and application here.   [Note: do not be confused by Dominion’s arrogant use of past tense for events that have not yet happened, e.g. “A public hearing was held on September 11, 2018. The required comment period, provided by 9VAC5-80-1170 D expired on September 11, 2018.” This is a bad deal but not a done deal!]

Comments to DEQ must include the following information:

  • PERMIT NAME: Minor Source Construction Permit issued under the authority of the Air Pollution Control Board
  • APPLICANT NAME AND REGISTRATION NUMBER: Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC; 21599
  • FACILITY NAME AND ADDRESS: ACP – Dominion Energy Buckingham Compressor Station; 5297 S. James River Hwy, Wingina, VA 24599
  • Submissions must include the names, mailing addresses and telephone numbers of the commenter/requester and of all persons represented by the commenter/requester.

Project description (presumably from Dominion): Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC has applied for a new permit to build the Buckingham Compressor Station (ACP-2). The facility is a natural gas pipeline compressor station. It will be classified as a minor source of air pollution. The maximum annual emissions of air pollutants from the facility under the proposed permit are expected to be: 34.2 tons per year (TPY) of nitrogen oxides, 39.2 TPY carbon monoxide, 9.8 TPY volatile organic compounds, 8.3 TPY sulfur dioxide, 43.2 TPY of particulate (PM10 and PM2.5). The applicant proposes to use approximately 4,550 million cubic feet of natural gas for fuel. The technology that will be used to control the air pollution from the facility is selective catalytic reduction for the control of nitrogen oxides; oxidation catalyst for the control of carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and formaldehyde; natural gas, inlet air filters, and good combustion practices for control of sulfur dioxide and particulate; and a vent gas reduction system to reduce the venting of natural gas to control volatile organic compounds and hexane. The estimated effect on air quality near the facility from the proposed project is that all emissions will comply with all applicable ambient air quality standards.

For additional information, including links to images and tables from the ACP permit application, Dominion responses to questions about the permit, and Dominion’s Air Quality Monitoring Report for the compressor station, see Friends of Buckingham’s Web page on the compressor air permit.

Court Upholds VA Water Quality Review for MVP

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond has upheld Virginia’s much-criticized water quality review for Mountain Valley Pipeline. According to press coverage of the decision in the Roanoke Times and the Virginia Mercury, “The panel of judges rejected arguments from the Sierra Club and other organizations that the State Water Control Board incorrectly found there was a ‘reasonable assurance’ that state water quality standards would be upheld when it issued a certification under the federal Clean Water Act for the project.” The ruling applies to the 500 or more waterbody crossings on the MVP route in Southwest Virginia.

“The construction of the project was exactly that, a large construction project, and the State Agencies very reasonably undertook to protect their waters with the ‘tried and true’ methods developed for just this purpose,” Judge William Traxler wrote for a three-judge panel. “We see no purpose we would serve by stepping in and second-guessing the analytical methods Virginia deemed appropriate to provide it with reasonable assurance that its water quality would be protected,” the 47-page opinion stated.

“We are disappointed in today’s ruling,” the conservation group Wild Virginia said in a statement. “The court relied in large part on the state’s assurances that the requirements in the certification and the enforcement of those requirements would uphold our water quality standards. The facts on the ground in the MVP construction areas in Virginia show all too clearly that those assurances were untrue and unsupportable.”

To date, Virginia’s DEQ has issued six notices of violation against MVP, finding that measures to control muddy runoff were inadequate at construction sites in Giles, Craig, Montgomery, Roanoke, Franklin and Pittsylvania counties, and five similar notices of violation have been issued in West Virginia.

Read the full 47-page opinion here.

Virginia NAACP Calls for Halt to All MVP and ACP Construction

Rev. Kevin Chandler, VA NAACP President, at Union Hill

In a letter dated May 30, 2018, the Virginia State NAACP has called on the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to halt all construction activity for both the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines.

An article in Blue Virginia on July 30, 2018, says, “The state NAACP statement was submitted to the Virginia State Water Control Board on May 30 as part of a public comment period on the proposed pipelines. It was among thousands of comments submitted by concerned citizens and environmental and community organizations. The NAACP statement has remained hidden from public view because DEQ has failed to publish the ‘public’ comments, pointing to an unspecified security ‘issue’ with its website and the time needed to ‘process’ so many comments. DEQ’s lack of transparency left the NAACP statement and similar submissions largely unavailable – until now. It is yet another example of what has been called DEQ’s broken regulatory process under its longtime director, David Paylor.” (Note that although DEQ has been unable to make comments public, Wild Virginia and Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition obtained most of the 10,000 comments through a FOIA request, and have made them public, something DEQ has been unable or unwilling to do.)

The NAACP letter denounces DEQ for deferring to Nationwide Permit 12 water quality standards rather than applying the stricter Virginia standards, and calls on DEQ to conduct a “comprehensive site-specific stream-by-stream analysis that reviews the cumulative effects of the multiple crossings within individual watersheds.” The letter notes that “socio-economic data and wetland and stream information crucial to conducting accurate and unbiased assessments are missing, inaccurate and incomplete.”

The letter also points out the environmental racism inherent in Dominion’s plan to build the only Virginia compressor station in the African-American Union Hill community. “Established by freed enslaved people, Union Hill relies on a single-source aquifer for their drinking water,” and Dominion and DEQ gave “no consideration for pipeline ruptures which could pollute the single source aquifer which feeds the wells of Union Hill and most of Buckingham County.”

The Blue Virginia article details the many strong public statements by the NAACP against pipeline projects and the ways communities of color are particularly impacted by their construction and operation.

Legislators Again Ask Northam to Act on Pipelines

A July 26, 2018, letter from two Virginia State Senators and 12 Delegates asks Governor Northam yet again to halt both the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines and insist on a stream-by-stream review of the hundreds of spots where they will cross Virginia waterways.

Signing the letter were Senators Deeds and Peterson, and Delegates Keam, Plum, Hope, Kory, Lopez, Rasoul, Levine, Hurst, Guzman, Carter, Foy, and Roehm.

“We believe that your clear and bold leadership on pipelines at this critical time can restore the faith that many of our constituents have lost in their governments’ ability to fight for the public’s interest, at a time when that faith is so desperately needed.”

The letter discusses the inadequacy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit the state is relying on for the hundreds of spots the pipelines will cross Virginia waters and urges DEQ to conduct its own individual review of all crossings.

“We also ask you to direct the DEQ to stop work on all construction activities for these two projects until those analyses are complete. Stream-by-stream analysis is a commonsense solution that environmental experts agree is the appropriate process for these circumstances. You agreed with this standard and forcefully advocated for such analysis in early 2017. We hope you will agree that it is time for DEQ to do this robust study now.”

News coverage of the letter in the Virginia Mercury is here.

Read the full letter here.