Category Archives: Virginia government

Messages to Northam Proliferate

On May 3, 2018, morning commuters on Route 7 in Northern Virginia were greeted by a message to Ralph Northam. The Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast fracked gas pipelines proposed for the state put the people and the climate at great risk. The governor needs to order a stream by stream analysis of these pipelines, and issue stop work orders to halt construction until that analysis is done to allow further public review. Please call Governor of Virginia at (804)-786-2211 to make this demand.

We don’t have overpasses in Nelson County, but we have fence posts. Banner south of Lovingston in May 3.

At the Virginia Pipeline Resisters regular Wednesday rally in Richmond on May 2, 2018, they unfurled the new Virginia flag, with Northam and his corrupt money over felled trees and the Latin quote saying ‘Thus sold to tyrants.’ They said, “This flag represents what your legacy, Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam, will be if you don’t stand up against corporate abuse and the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines. Keep your promises, require a stay of construction and stream by stream analysis now.”

Saying that pipelines pose a clear threat to Virginia’s drinking water, and are an abuse of eminent domain, 18 Democratic committees across Virginia (including Nelson’s) teamed up to release a May 4, 2018, statement against the pipeline.  They called on Governor Northam, Attorney General Mark Herring, and DEQ to act to stop the ACP and MVP.  “Our citizens should not be forced to hand over Virginia’s pristine landscape and safe drinking water to corporate profiteers who care little, if at all, for the well-being of our communities.”  For the full text of the statement, see the WSLS coverage or the Blue Virginia coverage.

DEQ Admission Shows Pipeline Claims Are Untrue

The following is from an April 30, 2018, post on Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition’s Web page.

David Paylor, Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, claimed in a recent letter to conservation groups that a blanket permit issued for waterbody crossings by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “will protect water quality at each site.” Mr. Paylor said his conclusion is based on “DEQ’s experience observing linear projects constructed under NWP 12.”

However, DEQ’s response to a public records request directly contradicts Mr. Paylor’s claim. The Department, by its admission, has no records that reflect its “experience observing linear projects constructed under NWP 12.”

In an April 16, 2018 letter, the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) made a very specific request for DEQ documents.

We asked for:

  • Any data or other information collected or reviewed by DEQ with the purpose and intent to assess whether activities that have previously been covered by and were in compliance with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide Permit number 12 (NWP 12) and Regional conditions associated with NWP 12 can meet or have met Virginia water quality standards. These records should cover the period between February 15, 2017 and the date of this letter. (Note: we limited this request to the period since February 2017, because we’d already sought the same information then and come up empty.
  • Any analysis or discussion of data or information as described above.

DEQ’s response: “The agency has no records regarding your . . . request.”

So, to be clear – we asked for any records showing that DEQ had “collected or reviewed information” on projects previously covered by the Corps’ NWP 12 permit and whether DEQ personnel had analyzed or even discussed such information before the Department decided to defer to the Corps’ permit and claim it also met state requirements. The DEQ said there were no such records.

In a recent interview, Governor Ralph Northam addressed the need for individual state assessments of possible impacts where Virginia streams and wetlands could be crossed by the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines. He asserted: “We’re using science. . . . We’re doing everything that we can to make this environmentally sound.”

Governor Northam’s trust in DEQ’s use of science and the soundness of the process through which the MVP and ACP are being regulated is misplaced. For DEQ to fail to even look at real examples where NWP 12 has been used before relying on it to meet Virginia standards is anything but scientifically valid. We call on the Governor, again, to live up to the commitments he has made. The Governor called for individual waterbody crossing reviews when he was running for office. He must now make sure those reviews occur.

For more information, including access to cited correspondence, see DPMC Website.

Call Northam: Leadership Needed

In the April 30, 2018, Washington Post, Appalachian Voices Executive Director Tom Cormons co-authored an op-ed with former Congressman Tom Perriello calling for moral leadership on the pipelines from Governor Northam. In the piece, they lay out many of the injustices people in rural communities across Virginia have experienced at the hands of pipeline developers and the government agencies that have enabled them.

Similar sentiments have been expressed by Virginia’s elected leaders the past several months. They have called for a stream-by-stream analysis of all waters crossed by the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines, the humane treatment of peaceful protesters in the path of construction, and better processes that protect property rights, water and our children’s future.

It’s time for the Governor to lead.  Call Governor Northam at (804) 786-2211. Remind him that during his campaign he called for a stream-by-stream analysis of the impacts these two pipelines would have on our streams and wetlands, but neither the federal agencies nor DEQ have completed that analysis. Last February, he wrote a letter to DEQ, requesting that the agency complete its own analysis of impacts to water, independent of the Trump administration’s blanket permit. Ask him to direct DEQ to do a stream-by-stream analysis of impacts and provide that information to the public.  Ask that he stop pipeline construction and tree cutting until officials have evidence that construction will not violate state water quality standards.

Northam has spoken out against offshore drilling, citing threats to Virginia’s coastal communities, economy and natural resources. Now it’s time for him to stand up for the rest of the commonwealth and protect our property rights, our water quality, and our children’s future.

Call Governor Northam today at (804) 786-2211.

Northam’s Empty Campaign Promise

An April 28, 2018 article in Blue Virginia points out that “It’s been almost a year since Ralph Northam PROMISED – in response to a question (see video [above]) about the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines: ‘Pam, my wife, and I are going to go around, we want to sit down, we want to have focus groups and talk about how we an protect our environment as best we can, how we can use what leverage we have to make it safe, to make it scientific, to make it transparent, to protect people’s property rights…let’s sit down, put our heads together and talk about as a group how we can move forward…we’re trying to set up times.’ OK, so have I missed something here? Has Ralph Northam held a single ‘focus group’ with concerned citizens on these pipelines? Let alone, has he gone out to visit the tree and ‘monopod’ sitters first hand? If not, why not?”

DEQ (Finally!) Announces 30 Day Comment Period

On Friday afternoon April 27, 2018, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality announced a comment period to receive public input on pipeline crossings of wetlands and streams, pursuant to an April 12 decision by the State Water Control Board. The new comment period will begin April 30 and end May 30.

The sole purpose of the written public comment period is for interested persons to submit technical comments and/or information for the MVP and ACP projects relevant to:

  1. the sufficiency of the Corps NWP 12 permit’s general and regional conditions, as they relate to specific, wetland or stream crossing(s);
  2. the sufficiency of the Corps NWP 12 permit authorization for each project, as related to specific, wetland or stream crossing(s); and/or
  3. the sufficiency of the Commonwealth’s § 401 water quality certification of NWP 12, as related to specific, wetland or stream crossing(s).


Written comments must be received between April 30, 2018 and 11:59 pm on May 30, 2018.


1. All written comments submitted must include the name(s), mailing address(es) and telephone number(s) of the person(s) commenting.

2. All written comments submitted must be to a specific wetland or stream crossing. Comments should reference exact wetlands and streams crossings by the identifiers found at the following address:

3. 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:

4. After the comment period closes, DEQ will evaluate the comments and will submit to the board a summary of the relevant comments received; will concurrently provide the summary to the public by posting it on DEQ’s; and will make the full text of the comments available to the board.

5. The board may consider, but is not required to consider, further actions that are consistent with its regulatory authority, without additional public comment on whether further action is warranted.

Read the full DEQ Notice here.

No Word Yet on Comment Period for Water Board

Wondering about the Virginia State Water Control Board’s promised 30 day comment period? As of 8 a.m. on Friday morning April 27, 2018, there is still no word on when it will begin.

The April 12 decision by the Virginia State Water Control Board to open a 30-day public comment period regarding individual waterbody crossing analyses for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline is still lacking in implementing information. A inquiry by ABRA on April 24 to the Department of Environmental Quality concerning the delay in information produced the following response:

We may have some general information about the Board action published tomorrow (April 25) afternoon but not the start date. Water staff is finalizing the public notice, which once approved, will trigger a start date. The notice needs to include NWP 12 maps and email boxes so all info that one would need to provide comments is complete. Soon though!

In the meantime, the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) wrote Governor Northam on April 23 to complain about the delay, asking: “what’s the holdup?” See story below on the DPMC inquiry.