An article in the June 25, 2017, Roanoke Times discusses at length an April 19, 2017, letter from Virginia’s Secretary of Natural Resources, Molly Ward, to Ann Loomis, senior director for federal affairs and environmental policy for Dominion. The letter was received by the newspaper with hundreds of pages received in response to their open-records requests filed with both the McAuliffe administration and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
The article says, “Attempts by Dominion Energy to sway regulators in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline permitting process prompted a top official under Gov. Terry McAuliffe to notify the utility that state agencies would not heed those efforts,” and quotes Ward’s letter, in which she advised Dominion that state agencies involved in permitting for the proposed 600-mile line “will not base their decisions on requests or suggestions from an applicant.”
Ward added that agencies would continue to meet with Loomis and her team to discuss specific permitting issues, “but the integrity of the agencies’ independent decision-making and review process is non-negotiable.”
Pipeline opponents Rick Webb of Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition and David Sligh of Wild Virginia said they did not receive a similar letter from Ward or the DEQ. Webb said, “Maybe that’s because we’re not asking for anything beyond what is required by Virginia’s statutes and regulations.”
Sligh added that Ward’s implication that Dominion was trying to sway permitting decisions is evidence of what he described as “extraordinary arrogance.” He said it also suggests that Dominion’s past dealings with administration officials have led it to conclude it could influence permitting decisions by state agencies.
Read the full article here.
The Virginia River Healers are calling all 2017 candidates to take a pledge for Virginia water security. The pledge focuses on four key water issues that Virginia will face in 2018. Each candidate is asked to take action and stand with Virginians on the following key water issues.
- Oppose the construction and permitting of large volume fracked-gas pipelines such as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
- Oppose hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and take action to enact a statewide fracking ban.
- Oppose offshore drilling and seismic sound surveys.
- Oppose current coal ash waste permits and take action to have all coal ash waste removed from Virginia’s rivers and sources of drinking water.
Click here to see which candidates have pledged to protect your water.
Join Appalachian Voices for a webinar exploring the significance of state-level water quality certification under the Clean Water Act § 401 and how to engage in the 401 process for the proposed interstate Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipeline projects
Find out how to monitor and protect our water sources from these potential projects!
Webinar speakers will share information about the upcoming state-level water certification process, how the public can engage in this process, and discuss the basics of how to do baseline water testing in wells and waterbodies potentially impacted by fracked gas infrastructure projects and why it is important. Presenters include Downstream Strategies, Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, and others.
No charge, but you need to REGISTER HERE. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
An excellent investigative report in the June 21, 2017, Richmond Times-Dispatch walks readers step-by-step through the fog and confusion created by Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) over DEQ’s intentions for evaluating the risk that construction of the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines might pose to the state’s rivers, streams and wetlands. Conclusion: “Nearly 2½ months after DEQ’s April 6 announcement, exactly what the agency will require of the pipeline developers remains unclear.”
Meanwhile, in an effort to clarify its position and process (or will it further confuse?), DEQ has issued the following statement to “Interested Stakeholder Groups”:
DEQ has received responses from Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline for additional details to assess whether activities in adjacent areas will adversely affect water quality during construction. Together with the other regulatory tools, the Virginia water quality certification will ensure that water quality is protected across the range of pipeline activities and is maintained into the future.
To learn more about Virginia’s water quality certification, and the other regulatory tools protecting water quality, and to review available information and response documents, visit: http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/ProtectionRequirementsforPipelines.aspx
Please consider signing up to receive emails about water quality information and updates related to natural gas pipelines by visiting http://www.deq.virginia.gov/ConnectWithDEQ/NewsFeeds.aspx
Address questions on DEQ’s statement to Ann Regn, DEQ Public Information & Outreach, 804-698-444.
How does the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) say it would evaluate water quality certifications for the proposed ACP and MVP? Go to their new Web page to find out. DEQ says, “Due to the size and scope of proposed natural gas pipeline projects in Virginia, DEQ is developing additional requirements to ensure that Virginia water quality standards are maintained in all areas affected by the construction of these pipelines. DEQ will require Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline to provide details and site plans to assess whether construction activities in adjacent areas will adversely affect water quality during construction and to ensure that water quality is maintained into the future. This additional certification goes well beyond other regulatory requirements and will protect water quality across the range of pipeline activities, not just temporary construction impacts to streams and wetlands.”
The Web page lists details of five regulatory and review tools that will provide comprehensive oversight and thorough technical evaluation:
- Environmental impact review.
- Stormwater, erosion and sediment control.
- Federal wetlands and stream regulation.
- Virginia water quality certification.
- Water quality monitoring.
On June 5, 2017, the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) filed suit against the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in state Circuit Court for the City of Richmond.
DPMC is asking the court to rule that DEQ issued a Clean Water Act section 401 Water Quality Certification for construction of utility lines, including natural gas pipelines, in state waters without legal authority to do so and without ensuring water quality would be protected.
DEQ’s general Water Quality Certification was issued on April 7, 2017 for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ general permit, named Nationwide Permit No. 12, that also addresses utility line impacts on streams and wetlands. A party cannot begin a project that affects waterbodies under the Corps of Engineers permit unless Virginia certifies that the work allowed under the federal permit will meet all state water protection requirements. DPMC asserts that DEQ failed to provide such assurances to properly protect Virginia waters and those who use them.
For more information:
June 5th Petition to Richmond Circuit Court