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.