West Virginia Waives 401 Review for MVP

In a November 1, 2017, statement released by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection announced permit adjustments for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, saying the State Stormwater Permit includes enhanced inspection and enforcement, stronger environmental guidelines for project.

The statement said, “West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) Cabinet Secretary Austin Caperton announced today that the agency has lifted the suspension of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) state Stormwater Permit. The suspension of the state Stormwater Permit was put in place in September to allow the agency to properly respond to all public comments received.

“Additionally, the state has chosen to waive the individual 401 Certification of the federal permits for the MVP. The Army Corps of Engineers recently reissued, with provisions that are specific to West Virginia, the Nationwide 12 permit which is used for stream crossings. These new conditions, when combined with specific requirements that are included in the state’s storm water permit, will allow for better enforcement capabilities and enhanced protection for the state’s waters.”

Read the full statement from WVDEP here.

In a Sierra Club press release, Sierra Club West Virginia Chapter Gas Committee Chair Justin Raines said, “Instead of protecting West Virginia’s water, DEP has sold us down the river. They had one job to do and they failed to do it, leaving our water in the hands of the federal government and out-of-state corporate polluters who are more interested in making money than protecting West Virginians. If we can’t trust our own state to protect our water, health and tourism, who can we trust to do it? Governor Justice and his DEP have let us all down by abandoning the responsibilities we trusted them with.”

DEP had previously certified the MVP, but Appalachian Mountain Advocates brought a lawsuit on behalf of a coalition of environmental groups, and on October 17, 2017, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals set aside that certification and allowed DEP to start over. Just two weeks later, in response to the WVDEP’s November 1 announcement, Derek Teaney, Senior Attorney at Appalachian Mountain Advocates, said, “This is an outrageous and unprecedented dereliction of duty by DEP. After assuring a federal court that it was committed to reconsidering whether the MVP would degrade the hundreds of streams that it would impact, DEP has thrown up its hands and admitted that it is not up to the task of protecting West Virginia’s environment. This action suggests that DEP does not believe in the laws–including the antidegradation policy–that it is charged with enforcing. It also makes you wonder whether DEP intends to give the Atlantic Coast Pipeline–the other ill-conceived pipeline project it is currently reviewing–the same free pass it has just given to MVP.”

Read the full Sierra Club press release here.

See WDTV5 coverage, Environmental organizations outraged at WVDEP decision.