Category Archives: Virginia government

DPMC Asks Northam to Back Authority of Citizen Board

On April 23, 2018, the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition sent a letter asking Governor Ralph Northam to order the Department of Environmental Quality to carry out the commands of the Virginia State Water Control Board to ensure additional and necessary reviews of destructive pipeline proposals.

DEQ has so far failed to advertise a 30-day public comment period the Board ordered on April 12, 2018, to help the Board determine whether evidence requires the State to conduct individual waterbody crossing analyses for the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipeline projects. As of the time of the letter, DEQ had failed to act. Therefore, we must ask: “what’s the holdup?” The motion the Board adopted on April 12th was neither complicated nor unclear – DEQ had all of the information it needed to draft a notice that reflected that motion and begin the 30-day period in which comments are to be accepted within hours, not weeks.

Time is of the essence, if the State of Virginia is to exercise the authority it rightly reserved to reject the rubber-stamp approvals the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued for these activities in our most sensitive and valuable waters. With every day it delays, DEQ heightens the risk that one or both of the pipeline companies will begin ripping and blasting through our precious streams and wetlands with no proper analyses to ensure state water quality standards will not be violated.

Also addressed in the letter is DEQ’s proclamation that it intends to ignore the Board’s order, that the Board will “have a chance to ‘consider further actions on the [ACP] Certification following the review of the DEQ report” and that the public’s comments will be available to the Board when it makes its decision. DEQ Director Paylor attempted to justify this stance with an incomplete and unsound legal justification. In essence, Mr. Paylor told the Board the ACP certification exceeded the Board’s authority and that he was prepared to act on his opinions, not those expressed by the Board in the plain language of its approval and the extensive discussion that supported that approval.

The DPMC letter concludes:

“We ask that the public notice ordered by the Board be issued immediately and be accompanied by all records DEQ has relied upon. Also, we trust that you will order DEQ to abide by the Board’s order that further process be conducted for the upland certification for ACP.”

For more information, see the DPMC website.

DPMC letter to Northam is here.

Delegates Hold Press Conference


Live video from Chesapeake Climate Action Network at the April 25, 2018, press conference and protest in Richmond. Thanks to Delegate Mark Keam (D-Fairfax) for organizing the event, and for all the Delegates and Senators who came and spoke out against the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines, demanding a stream-by-stream review and asking that food and water be given to all tree sitters.

The press conference, held immediately before the assembly reconvened in its annual veto session, included lawmakers from parts of the state not affected by either proposed pipeline. Del. Danica Roem, D-Prince William, was among a group of Northern Virginia Democrats joining the protest, dismissing what she called “NOVA versus ROVA [Rest of Virginia] BS. It is our obligation to stand with them,” Roem said.

“Let me be clear,” said Blacksburg Delegate Chris Hurst. “It should not be up to landowners, who have already had their land taken through invalid eminent domain procedures to make sure Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC does its job correctly. It should be our state agencies who lead that effort.”

In a statement last week, Roanoke County said that police had advised the “individuals sitting in two trees” that they were in the right of way granted to the pipeline company through a court order. “They will no longer be allowed to receive supplies from supporters. Anything the individuals need will be available to them when they come down from the trees,” it said.  Sen. John Edwards, whose district includes the city of Roanoke and several surrounding counties, said Virginia prison inmates are treated better than the woman currently in a tree sit on her own property. “She hasn’t been convicted of anything, and she’s being treated in an inhumane fashion. I think it’s outrageous,” said Edwards.

Washington Post coverage is here.

In May 2017 Northam Pledged Stream by Stream Review


What happened to that pledge?

On April 18, 2018, Blue Virginia writes, “For the record, here’s what Ralph Northam said in May 2017 about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline: 1) we need to be ‘very cognizant’ of property rights; 2) ‘we need to be environmentally responsible;’ 3) he supposedly got the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to move to stream-by-stream, ‘site-specific permit’ system, that ‘anywhere there’s a stream or a river, that there will be a site-specific permitting;’ 4) ‘we will use science and transparency if the pipeline moves forward.’ Also for the record, the state certainly has NOT been ‘very cognizant’ of property rights when it comes to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (or the Mountain Valley Pipeline); has NOT been ‘environmentally responsible’ on either pipeline; has NOT moved to a ‘site-specific permit’ system on either pipeline; and has NOT used ‘science and transparency’ on either pipeline in this entire process.”

Failing grade for Northam on his campaign promises!

State Water Control Board Approves 30-Day Comment Period

ACP and MVP opponents have continually and vigorously objected to Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality decision a year ago to cede its authority to review the hundreds of spots where two controversial natural gas pipelines will cross state waterways to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

As reported by Robert Zullo, writing for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “the State Water Control Board cracked open the door for more review of those water crossings. The board on Thursday [April 12, 2018] approved a 30-day period to solicit comment on whether the approvals the corps granted for the projects under Nationwide Permit 12 are adequate to protect Virginia waterways from the blasting, drilling and trenching that crossing them could entail.”

Opponents of the blanket approval believe it allows degradation of waterways that are not permitted under Virginia water regulations. Board member Robert Wayland, said, “I watched the nationwide permit scope get significantly ratcheted down over a period of time. Quite frankly, we felt, and the Army agreed, it had been ‘Honk if you want a permit.'”

The Board agreed on a 30-day comment period, with the possibility for a further meeting at a later date.

In December the Board had issued a conditional certification for the ACP and a certification for the Mountain Valley Pipeline that was aimed specifically at attempting to preserve the board’s authority over water crossings – but those certifications were issued before DEQ finished reviewing the pipeline builders’ plans to manage erosion, sediment control and stormwater along the proposed pipeline route through miles of extremely steep terrain.

At the meeting, Board member Roberta Kellam cited Dominion’s self-reported violations of tree-cutting restrictions. “We’re talking about a violation before even the plans that they’re required to submit to perfect the certificate have even been approved,” she said. “That would seem to me potentially grounds for revoking the certificate or at least reopening discussions.”

Mr. Zullo, the Times-Dispatch reporter, noted, “About 15 seconds of silence followed that remark.”

Read the full article here.

10,000 Petitions Delivered to Northam


A March 27, 2018, press release from Appalachian Voices describes the delivery of petitions to Governor Northam, asking him to protect citizens from the impacts of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines.

“Citizens representing Virginia landowners, the faith community, scientists, people of color, water protectors and clean energy advocates today called on Governor Ralph Northam to protect Virginia’s waters by taking immediate action on the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines. The action comes the morning after Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality approved key environmental plans for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, paving the way for its construction.

“At a press conference at the Bell Tower on Capitol Square, citizens presented the Northam administration with more than 10,000 petition signatures from petitions signed by more than 10,000 Virginian residents. The signatories call on the governor to protect the drinking water supplies of countless Virginians from the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines, which would cross streams and other waters more than 1,400 times across the state.

“The group also presented a petition from Change.org with more than 62,000 signatures from other concerned citizens from around the country calling on Governor Northam to reject the pipelines. In addition to the projects’ tremendous climate impacts that affect all Americans, the projects bisect national treasures including the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Appalachian Trail, and many miles of national forest land.”

Read the full press release here.

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.