Category Archives: Virginia government

More Than 13,000 Public Comments

On June 18, 2018, the Roanoke Times reported that 2 Pipeline Projects Draw More than 13,000 Public Comments. The comments were submitted to the State Water Control Board (SWCB) to give input on how the Mountain Valley and the Atlantic Coast Pipelines would impact Virginia’s water bodies. The SWCB received approximately 7,100 emails on the ACP and 2,600 emails on the MVP. Another 3,500 letters, reports, and other paper records were submitted, but as of the article’s press time it was unclear how many were related to each pipeline.

Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) has posted on their Web page an overview of copies of comments they received, click here to access.

Ann Regn, spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, said that comments must be reviewed by DEQ staff members in order to present the information to the SWCB. The SWCB is currently scheduled to meet on August 21, 2018, but there are requests for it to meet sooner, particularly as the MVP has already caused environmental damage and even more is expected as construction continues. Many individuals and organizations are calling for a halt to all construction on both the ACP and the MVP while the over 13,000 comments are carefully considered by the SWCB.  Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, held a news conference on June 18 to push for a state-ordered stop to construction while damage is occurring.

State Legislators File Comments with SWCB

Press release from Delegate Mark Keam’s office, June 15, 2018:

Virginia State Legislators File Comments Urging State Water Control Board to Conduct Stream-By-Stream Analysis of Methane Gas Pipelines’ Impacts on Water Quality

RICHMOND – On Friday, June 15, 2018, sixteen members of the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates jointly filed comments with the State Water Control Board in the pending regulatory proceeding on the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline proposals.

In an unprecedented move, the group representing more than ten percent of the 140 combined members of Virginia’s state legislature expressed “serious concerns about how these projects would have severe negative impacts on Virginia’s water resources.”

These legislators believe that the Commonwealth should fully utilize the legal authority it has under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act to protect the water quality in Virginia, rather than simply rely upon the Nationwide Permit 12 issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Nationwide Permit 12 are generally used by the federal government to handle routine projects that have only minimal effects on water quality.

“Some supporters of pipelines assert that these projects are already approved by the federal government, and so our state has no role,” stated Delegate Mark Keam who helped draft the public comments. “But the facts and the law are clear – the Commonwealth is responsible for protecting Virginia waters, not some bureaucrats in Washington who have never even visited the hundreds of rivers and streams that these pipelines will cross.”

Keam and other legislators urge the Water Board and the Department of Environmental Quality to conduct stream-by-stream analyses of all proposed crossings in Virginia and to require all necessary standards to protect Virginia’s water uses from dangers of the pipelines, including aquatic life, recreation, wildlife, and drinking water supplies.

Read the legislators’ letter to the State Water Control Board here.

LAST CHANCE! Comments Due Today to DEQ

11:59 pm today, Friday, June 15, 2018 is the deadline for submitting comments to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality on the adequacy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers NWP 12 program for stream crossings of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Written comments may be submitted via hand-delivery to DEQ, 1111 East Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219; via postal mail to DEQ, P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218; or via e-mail at the following email address(es) ONLY – emails and attachments sent to other email addresses or internet sites will not be considered:

Additional information here.

June 15 Deadline for Comments to DEQ

Because the Department of Environmental Quality Web site was offline between May 22, 2018, and June 1, 2018, the new deadline for submitting comments on the adequacy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers NWP 12 program for stream crossings of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline is Friday, June 15, 2018.

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

You must reference specific water bodies in your comments.   Friends of Nelson has posted the chart of ACP crossings here

For additional instructions, suggestions on what to say, and postal addresses for comments, see our earlier posts on:

The Science Is Missing

Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition has issued a new report:  The Agency Has No Records . . . DEQ’s Failure to Use Sound Science to Protect Virginian’s from Pipeline Threats

The report describes the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s responses to a series of records requests DPMC filed in the last two months to discover what evidence DEQ has to support its claims that a Corps of Engineers permit will protect Virginia waters where the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline propose to dig and blast through streams and wetlands.

In nearly every case, DEQ was forced to admit it had no such records, showing that it has not applied the most basic scientific protocols to ensure these waterbody crossings can meet Virginia water quality standards. Administration officials have told the Governor, the State Water Control Board, and the public that it has conducted certain investigations and analyses. However, the results of our information requests refute those claims and show promises that Virginia is relying on science to make decisions have been empty.

Reviews of polluting projects should and generally do include:

  • examination of past projects in Virginia where regulatory requirements were imposed, to see if our waters were fully protected,
  • examination of findings from other localities and from the scientific literature,
  • application of those findings to circumstances present in our waters, and
  • analyses of specific evidence pertinent to the particular cases where decisions are required.
DEQ says it applied these methods – the evidence says otherwise.

See the full report:  The Agency Has No Records . . . DEQ’s Failure to Use Sound Science to Protect Virginian’s from Pipeline Threats

Advisory Council on Environmental Justice: Draft Statement

The Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice released the following announcement on May 30, 2018:

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice reached consensus May 30 on a draft statement recommending a moratorium on new gas infrastructure in the Commonwealth and calling for a stream-by-stream assessment of the impact of both the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines.

The advisory council, created by former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in 2017, also said placing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s compressor station in Union Hill, a historic African-American community in Buckingham County, exhibits racism and maintained that the human rights of protestors — including those who have engaged in tree sits — are being violated by state and local law enforcement officials as well as the U.S. Forestry Service.

Consensus on a final draft will be worked out quickly, members said, and the language could be modified. No timetable has been set, but council members said it was important to finalize their recommendations before decisions are made by other regulatory bodies. When completed, the recommendations will be sent to Gov. Northam.

The council held its May 30 meeting in Buckingham County to give members a first-hand view of areas that will be impacted by the ACP and compressor station. It also heard concerns expressed by about 30 people during a public comment period. Matt Strickler, Secretary of Natural Resources, joined the council for its meeting.

See video here of Union Hill residents testifying before the Council on May 30, 2018.