Conflict of Interest – Again

On June 28, 2017, we posted the story revealing that EEE Consulting, Inc., the environmental consulting company the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) hired to review Dominion’s soil and erosion plans when they are finally submitted, was also working directly for Dominion on other projects – and that Dominion was given the “opportunity” to review and comment on the consulting company’s proposal before it was issued.

DeSmog broke the original story in June, and now reports that recently obtained documents and emails from the DEQ indicate that, prior to DeSmog’s reporting, DEQ was not aware of the relationship between the contractor, EEE Consulting, and Dominion, despite a contract with strict stipulations intended to avoid conflicts of interest. Although DEQ asked EEE about existing and pending work with both the ACP and MVP, they did not ask about work for Dominion or other pipeline partners.

Read the new story from DeSmog here and the Richmond Time-Dispatch coverage here.

BREDL Calls for Postponement of 401 Process

In a news release issued Aug. 3, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) recommended that Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) postpone the 401 water certification process until all soil and erosion control and stormwater management plans are made public. In the release, organizer Sharon Ponton faults the DEQ for releasing late and incomplete regulatory plans for the proposed ACP and MVP, and says, “The DEQ is not upholding the standards set forth in the Clean Water Act.”

BREDL says:

  • DEQ made misleading statement to the press about the certification process
  • 40% of DEQ’s public hearings on the draft 401 Virginia Water Certification Permit are being held at venues as far as 100 miles outside of the areas directly affected by the proposed pipelines
  • DEQ claims it is setting up a more stringent process for Erosion and Sedimentation and Storm Water Management. Incomplete plans were only made publically available on July 19 and the last plans are not due until August 25, three days after the deadline for comments. “We question the DEQ’s commitment to water quality when the erosion and sedimentation and storm water management plans aren’t available for review by the public before the public hearings and comment periods began on the Virginia 401 Water Certification process.”

Read the full press release and BREDL’s letter to DEQ here.

Trump Nominees to FERC Confirmed

On August 3, 2017, the Senate voted to confirm Donald Trump’s nominees for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Neil Chatterjee and Rob Powelson. They join Cheryl LaFleur, who had been the sole member of the five member commission, so FERC now has a quorum. Chatterjee has been a long-time advocate on behalf of the fossil fuel industry, and, while Powelson has at times supported clean energy, he has shown deep allegiances to the gas industry throughout his tenure on the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission, and has recently compared anti-gas activists to terrorists. Lena Moffit of the Sierra Club stated, “It is disappointing to see the Senate confirm FERC Commissioners who have lengthy track records of prioritizing the interests of the fossil fuel industry over those of the American people.” FERC can now begin to act on the $50 billion of energy ventures under consideration by the agency.

Trump has formally nominated Kevin McIntyre, an energy lawyer at the firm Jones Day, and Richard Glick, a Democratic Senate aide. A Senate hearing on the two new nominees is scheduled for September 7, 2017.

DEQ Hearings Coming up

Please attend one, two or all of Department of Environmental Quality’s hearings and demand that the DEQ do a full public review of all erosion and sediment control plans for the ACP prior to any 401 Water Quality Certification. We want DEQ to put a hold on the process and reinitiate it only after the requested detailed information on Dominion’s exact and specific plans have been made public. Without those plans, the public cannot frame a fully informed response.

DEQ has posted on its website guidelines about what topics will be considered at the hearings and in written comments that are submitted. For those seeking guidance on major points to make in their testimony (3-minute limitation) or written submissions, we urge that comments be as personal as possible (e.g. how clean water is important to you and why the proposed pipeline would endanger that water). In addition, we commend to you the suggested talking points developed by ABRA members Wild Virginia and the Sierra Club – Virginia Chapter.

For Next Steps, Walking the Line folks ask that people join them to support those testifying. They will bring musicians and sing their pipeline resistance anthem “Sow Em on the Mountain”. They will bring their Sacred Places Map. And they plan to bring 500 “This is Not a Hearing” gags and 500 “This is a robbery” gags. Will they bring you?

ACP hearings begin at 6. Walking the Line program begins at 5:15 and can be joined until 6.

  • Monday, Aug. 7, 5:15 to 10 p.m. James Madison University, Festival Conference and Student Center, Grand Ballroom, 1301 Carrier Drive, Harrisonburg. Parking is in lots C11, C12, and D3.
  • Thursday, Aug. 10, 5:15 to 10 p.m. Longwood University, Jarman Auditorium, 201 High St., Farmville. Parking is in Wheeler Lot, Crafts Lot, High Street Lot, Randolph Lot or other university-owned lots.
  • Monday, Aug. 14, from 5:15 to 10 p.m. Southside Virginia Community College Center for Workforce Development, Christiana Campus, 109 Campus Drive, Alberta VA 23821.

In the News

Lots of interesting news stories in the last week. What have you missed? Click on the In the News tab above for many other current stories or use the archives links in the dropdown menu for earlier stories.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline Critical Zone Mapping System

New from Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition!

The DPMC has published an interactive Critical Zone Mapping System (CZMS) in support of citizen efforts to overcome the continuing failure of the regulatory system.

The CZMS provides a framework for evaluation of the risk associated with construction of the ACP and the limitations of the proposed or available control measures. The CZMS includes user-selectable map layers that display a number of key factors that should be considered during project review and prior to project approval. Among these are layers that indicate slope steepness, soil erodibility, high-excavation areas, stream crossings, surficial karst, and existing dye traces in karst systems.

One of the more-critical map layers identifies those sections of the pipeline corridor and access road system that meet Dominion’s criteria for application of its so-called “Best in Class” program. These areas, where the existing ground slope is 30% or more for distances of 100 feet or more, present a high risk to downslope water resources due to erosion, slope destabilization, and runoff alteration.

Although Dominion has posted what it describes as detailed erosion and runoff control plans, the plans do not include “Best in Class” measures. With limited exceptions, the actual site-specific details for application of the “Best in Class” program have not been provided for regulatory agency and public review, and apparently they will not be provided until after project approval.

These high-risk “Best in Class” areas represent almost half the length of the proposed ACP pipeline corridor and access road system in the mountainous counties of Virginia and West Virginia.

Among the more-extreme of the “Best in Class” measures is the use of heavy steel wire mesh to hold steep mountainsides in place after pipeline construction. Click here for a larger version of this image.

For more information see: The ACP Critical Zone Mapping System