Category Archives: Press Releases

BREDL Files Title VI Environmental Justice Complaint with EPA

BREDL files Title VI Environmental Justice Complaint with EPA against the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

June 20, 2018: The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) and its Virginia chapters, Protect Our Water, Concern for the New Generation and No ACP, filed a Title VI civil rights complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) office of External Civil Rights Compliance Office (ECRCO). BREDL’s Stop the Pipelines Campaign Coordinator, Sharon Ponton, stated, “The 26-page complaint tells the story of VADEQ’s segmented process for 401 water quality certification and asks the EPA to void the certification until a thorough environmental justice analysis is completed. We believe we have presented a strong case indicating the environmental justice communities along the path of the proposed ACP will be disproportionately impacted by health impacts from pollution caused by toxic, polluting pipeline infrastructure and its contributions to global warming from leaks and its compressor station, as well as the health affects from noise and toxic emissions from its compressor stations. The complaint also outlines disproportionate impacts from possible threats to water supplies, safety related issues from discriminatory construction rules, and property loss through eminent domain.”

View the Press Release

View the Title VI Complaint

Tree-Sit Pipeline Protests, MVP, and ACP

The Loudoun County Democratic Committee issued an April 27, 2018, press release on Tree-Sit Pipeline Protests, MVP, and ACP:

Natural gas is neither safe nor clean. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) present unacceptable risks to water quality, unacceptable contribution to climate change in the form of greenhouse gas emissions, unacceptable threats to social justice in communities affected, unacceptable impact to the forests and wildlife in the Commonwealth, unacceptable risks to human health, and unacceptable use of eminent domain.

To quote Delegate Danica Roem, one of fourteen Virginia legislators who recently held a press conference to condemn construction of the pipelines, “I’m a property rights Democrat and an environmental Democrat, and this is bad for both; We are one Commonwealth…it is our obligation to stand with people in Southwest Virginia. We all represent the Commonwealth of Virginia, we have to be united.”

Democrats in Loudoun are conscientious stewards of the environment, advocates of rural conservation and defenders of social justice. Many in our membership and leadership are alarmed at the treatment of Theresa “Red” Terry, her daughter Minor and others, who are actively engaged in tree-sit protests on their own property to obstruct tree clearing progress on the MVP and ultimately construction of the pipeline itself. Even more disconcerting, one of the enormous compressor stations on the ACP route is planned for Union Hill, a historic, predominantly African American community that was founded by freed slaves in Buckingham County.

“Water is life. The construction of these pipelines poses a threat to hundreds of thousands of Virginians who live near proposed constructions sites,” said LCDC Chair Alfonso Nevarez, “The Department of Environmental Quality needs to do a stream-by-stream analysis of all water crossing that would be impacted by these proposed pipelines before further work is authorized. I am confident that Virginia’s Democratic elected officials will make prudent decisions that will protect human and property rights for our brothers and sisters across the Commonwealth.”

LCDC accompanied their press release with excellent supplemental information covering:

  • Denial of Access to Water and Food for the tree sitters
  • Social Justice in Union Hill, Buckingham County
  • Inappropriate use of Eminent Domain
  • Widespread opposition from environmental organizations
  • Unacceptable level of environmental damage
  • Fracking is harmful to human health
  • Unacceptable response to climate change, and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions
  • Additional natural gas infrastructure not needed
  • Erosion of public trust in regulatory institutions
  • These pipelines could very well kill someone
  • A listing of Material / References

On April 29, 2018, the Arlington County Democratic Committee issued a statement saying in part:

While Arlington might not suffer direct impacts, we all will be required to pay a large portion of the estimated $10 billion in pipeline costs which the builders will pass on to consumers in the form of increased utility rates. In addition, this massive new investment in decades-long infrastructure will retard the needed growth of truly clean sources of energy from which everyone in Arlington would benefit.

We join our elected officials in urging Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam and the Department of Environmental Quality to conduct a full, on the ground stream-by-stream analysis of the water impacts of the two pipelines and to complete this review before any construction proceeds. And we insist that peaceful protesters be treated humanely and provided with nutritious food and water. ….

You can help deliver this message in two ways.

  • Call Governor Northam at (804) 786-2211. Tell him you #StandWithRed and ask him to order law enforcement to give food and necessities to the tree sitters. Urge him to order the Department of Environmental Quality to use its full authority under the Clean Water Act to conduct a detailed, stream-by-stream analysis of each water crossing.
  • Call the Department of Environmental Quality at (804) 698-4000. Tell them to halt pipeline construction and conduct a thorough stream-by-stream review to ensure our lands and waters are protected.

VA DEQ Approves Plans for MVP

Press Release from DEQ
Contact: Ann Regn
March 26, 2018
804) 698-4442
ann.regn@deq.virginia.gov

DEQ Approves Erosion and Sediment, Stormwater, and Karst Plans for MVP to Protect Water Quality

RICHMOND, VA. – The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has approved the Erosion and Sediment Control, Stormwater Management, and Karst Protection Plans for the Mountain Valley Pipeline effective today, March 26, 2018. These detailed site plans specify engineering designs that will protect water quality in all areas of Virginia, including karst, during and after construction of the pipeline project.

DEQ began its plan review in March 2016, which continued with a more thorough review beginning in June 2017 by EEE, an independent consulting firm. Today’s approval authorizes MVP to begin land disturbing activities in Virginia consistent with these plans. No changes to the plans may be made without obtaining prior approval from DEQ. The basis for the design specifications for the plans are contained in Virginia’s erosion and sediment control and stormwater management regulations.

“Protecting water quality and water supplies is our greatest concern,” said David K. Paylor, DEQ Director. “We required MVP to submit detailed plans for every foot of land disturbance, and we carefully reviewed all aspects of these plans.”

Draft plans were posted for the public for input in September 2017, and the final plans are now available to view at https://www.mountainvalleypipeline.info/current-news.

In response to public interest, DEQ has sent a report to the State Water Control Board (Board) detailing the approval of the Erosion and Sediment Control, Stormwater Management, and Karst Protection Plans, which are required by regulation to protect the Commonwealth’s waters.

“DEQ’s enhanced review, along with our new stop-work authority, gives the agency a variety of tools to protect water quality across the range of pipeline activities and ensure developers comply with Virginia’s rigorous regulatory requirements,” added Paylor.

Citizens can direct questions and pollution complaints to MountainValleyPipeline@deq.virginia.gov. For more information, including the report to the Board, visit www.deq.virginia.gov/MVP.

Press Release: Water Testing Planned Along Gas Pipeline Route


Friends of Nelson Press Release, December 5, 2017: Water Testing Planned Along Gas Pipeline Route

Contact: Ernie Reed, lec@wildvirginia.org, 434-249-8330, Lisa Lefferts, llefferts@earthlink.net, 434-361-2349

Some 20 households in Horizons Village near Nellysford in Nelson County, Virginia, will be testing their groundwater quality to gather baseline data suitable for legal action if and when the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline begins. The proposed pipeline route goes through the residential village.

The purpose of the testing is to document how clean the residents’ drinking water is to allow a comparison to any later contamination from activities related to the pipeline’s construction or operation. Other testing projects to establish baselines on surface water in the village and elsewhere are underway, according to Lisa Lefferts, a resident of Horizons Village who holds a Master of Science in Public Health degree.

“Ideally we want to test for anything that could possibly contaminate our water as a result of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Unfortunately, there are many unknowns. For example, we don’t know what specific blasting agents or herbicides might be used, if any. Water is called ‘the universal solvent’ because it dissolves more substances than any other liquid, and we cannot test for everything; there are practical and cost constraints,” Lefferts said.

The testing project will cover a list of 87 parameters, ranging from coliform and fecal coliform bacteria to inorganic metals such as arsenic, lead and mercury, and organic chemicals such as benzene and toluene. The project will also offer optional testing for dissolved methane/ethane and possibly glyphosate at an additional cost to the homeowner. Natural gas, which the ACP would carry, is primarily methane and to a lesser extent ethane.

The cost of testing for the 87 parameters listed by Lefferts is a group rate of $250 per sample. Testing for dissolved methane/ethane and glyphosate will each add about $150 to that cost.

Lefferts said, “After consulting with our lawyer and others, we have decided to conduct one round of well water testing prior to any pipeline-related construction or land disturbance. While more testing is always desirable, we expect fairly clean results, given that we are an eco-development (e.g., our covenants restrict use of toxic chemicals) in a fairly remote area. Previous homeowners have done water testing in the past. Also there are practical (cost) reasons.”

“This baseline water testing project does not include assessing how the pipeline may affect water quantity/flow rate. We are separately investigating the best way to do this at a reasonable cost,” Lefferts said.

Property owners in the path of the pipeline, and owners of adjoining properties who are interested in such testing can contact Friends of Nelson, PO Box 33, Nellysford, VA 22958, 434-260-3298, for additional information and possible financial help. Testing through a group would save individual property owners a good deal of money, according to Friends of Nelson.

Virginia’s State Water Control Board and Department of Environmental Quality are currently considering whether to grant a permit to the ACP and Mountain Valley Pipeline and will hold hearings on the matter on Dec. 6 and 7 for the MVP and Dec. 11 and Dec. 12 for the ACP at 9:30 a.m. each day at Trinity Family Life Center, 3601 Dill Road, Richmond, VA 23222.

Press Release: Friends of Nelson Files with FERC to Stop ACP


Press Release, November 14, 2017: Friends of Nelson Files with FERC to Stop Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Contact: Joyce Burton (434-361-2328), Ernie Reed (434-971-1647)

Yesterday, Friends of Nelson filed a Request for Rehearing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on FERC’s decision to issue a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The filing is on behalf of 63 property owners and citizens of Nelson County, and 4 community organizations.

Horizons Village Property Owners Association, Inc., Wintergreen Country Store Land Trust, and the Rockfish Valley Foundation are among the parties filing the Request.

“A Request for Rehearing is the next step we are taking legally to stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” said Joyce Burton of Friends of Nelson. “We have done this for our friends and neighbors so that we can all preserve our ability to take further legal action against FERC for the crimes they are committing against Nelson County.”

Friends of Nelson also requested a Motion for Stay, which, if successful, would halt any progress on the project. “FERC may rule on the Request for Rehearing and the Stay, or it may choose not to,” Burton stated. “But no matter the outcome, this will open the door for further litigation.”

The Friends of Nelson filing asserts that FERC and Dominion have failed to provide sufficient analysis and information on the environmental, cultural, historical, economic and socio-economic impacts of the project in Nelson County. It also claims that FERC and Dominion have failed to demonstrate a need for the project, so should not be granted eminent domain powers.

Friends of Nelson is also party to a separate Request for Rehearing filed yesterday by Appalachian Mountain Advocates and Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of 22 groups, including the Sierra Club, Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Friends of Buckingham, Wild Virginia, Nelson Hilltop LLC, and Rockfish Valley Investments.

Court Allows West Virginia DEP to Start Over on MVP Review

A joint press release on October 17, 2017, from Sierra Club, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Indian Creek Watershed Association, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Appalachian Voices, and Appalachian Mountain Advocates:

Court Allows West Virginia DEP to Start Over on Necessary Review of Disputed Pipeline: DEP Must Conduct Comprehensive Review of Fracked Gas Pipeline After Previous Assessment was Incomplete

CHARLESTON, WV — The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals today granted an unusual request from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) – to throw out DEP’s approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and let them start anew. Under section 401 of the Clean Water Act, states must certify that proposed pipelines will not violate state water quality standards before construction can begin. DEP has the responsibility to determine whether or not to issue that certification for West Virginia. Although the MVP received FERC approval last week, pipeline construction cannot proceed until DEP issues a new decision.

DEP previously certified the MVP, but filed a motion to invalidate it after environmental groups challenged it in court. Attorneys with the public interest law firm Appalachian Mountain Advocates filed that challenge on behalf of a coalition that included the Sierra Club, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Indian Creek Watershed Association, Appalachian Voices, and Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

In response, Sierra Club West Virginia Chapter Gas Committee Chair Justin Raines issued this statement:

“We are pleased to see the court is giving West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection the chance to fulfill its responsibility and conduct a comprehensive and adequate review of the threats posed to our water quality by the Mountain Valley Pipeline. West Virginians, like all Americans, deserve access to clean, healthy water and DEP would fail at its most basic duty if it doesn’t protect us from fracked gas pipelines. This dirty, dangerous pipeline needlessly endangers West Virginia’s waterways, wilderness, and communities, and it should be rejected.”

Anne Havemann, General Counsel for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network said:

“With [today’s] action, the court has given the DEP a second shot at truly protecting hundreds of West Virginia streams and rivers from the impacts of the massive Mountain Valley Pipeline. We expect that DEP will take its responsibility seriously and do everything within its extensive power under section 401 of the Clean Water Act to ensure West Virginians have safe, clean water. Anything less would be an abdication of its duty.”

Angie Rosser, Executive Director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition said:

“It’s assuring that DEP is taking its obligations under the Clean Water Act seriously, especially on a project that is likely the largest the agency has ever reviewed under Section 401. The agency could have simply thrown up its hands and waived its authority, but it didn’t. It is up to this task. When FERC issued its certification of MVP last Friday, it expressly said that DEP still has the opportunity through this process to protect water quality. After investing considerable taxpayer resources in this process, if DEP were to waive its authority now and forego that opportunity, it would be an inexcusable breach of the public trust. Citizens of this state must rely on thorough efforts of DEP to make sure the over 600 streams impacted by this pipeline are not adversely affected.”

Judy Azulay, President of Indian Creek Watershed Association, said:

“MVP has charted a brutally challenging and destructive route across 200 miles of West Virginia mountains, forests and farmlands. It is clear in its order that FERC is relying on DEP to fill the holes that the FERC certificate does not address. We look to DEP to now make a close and careful analysis of the effects of pipeline construction on every stream crossed, as well as the critically important impacts of upland disturbances and “ridgetop removal”. If DEP abdicates its responsibility and rubber stamps MVP’s faulty application, how can our landowners and communities trust them to enforce any permit conditions to protect our water and the health of our citizens?”

Peter Anderson, Virginia Program Manager for Appalachian Voices said:

“The federal government has recently indicated it will not protect communities from the harsh environmental and public health impacts of a gas pipeline-building bonanza. Fortunately, states still have the power and the obligation under the Clean Water Act to ensure that projects like the Mountain Valley Pipeline will not violate water quality standards. We are confident that the West Virginia DEP will take its duty seriously and use this opportunity to thoroughly evaluate all of the impacts this project will have on its citizens.”