Thursday 16 August 2018

Pipelines & Compressor Stations (22)

Efforts continue to stop two huge pipelines that will cut through the region: the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline. There are several legal challenges pending on both pipelines but construction continues. Waterkeepers Cheseapeake recently filed a request to the State Water Control Board asking them to direct the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to conduct stream-by-stream analyses of crossings and to impose the necessary standards to ensure full protection of Virginia’s water resources. We also requested that the Board put on hold MVP and ACP development until all legal and regulatory challenges are resolved. Earlier this year, the Maryland Department of the Environment approved a water quality permit for TransCanada’s pipeline that will tunnel under the Potomac River near Hancock, MD, with some special conditions. This approval was deeply disappointing to us and all our partners in the No Potomac Pipeline campaign. Efforts continue to stop the pipeline. Dominion Energy’s plans to build a natural gas compressor station across Potomac River from Mount Vernon revealed there is more to it than spoiling the view. There will be a spider web of pipelines bringing fracked from the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline in Pennsylvania to the Cove Point LNG export facility on the Chesapeake Bay. Even the Eastern Shore is being threatened by 171-mile fracked gas pipeline starting in Rising Sun (Cecil County), passing through all Eastern Shore counties (except for Worchester), before crossing into Virginia to end at a proposed power station in Accomack County.
Virginia’s State Water Control Board invited the public to submit new comments on two massive natural gas pipelines that will impact Virginia’s waterways. Waterkeepers Chesapeake were among over 13,000 groups and people who submitted comments to the board. In our comments on the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines, we asked for a swift review of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12) and requested that the State Water Control Board (Board) direct the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to conduct stream-by-stream analyses of crossings and to impose the necessary standards to ensure full protection of Virginia’s water resources. We also requested that the Board put on hold MVP and ACP development until all legal and regulatory challenges are resolved. These fracked gas pipelines will cross rivers, streams, and wetlands more than a thousand times in Virginia. Instead of relying on insufficient permits, the State Water Control Board should direct the DEQ to conduct stream-by-stream analyses of crossings using its authority under § 401 of the Clean Water Act and impose the necessary standards to ensure full protection of Virginia’s designated water uses, including aquatic life, recreation, wildlife, and drinking water supplies. DEQ and the Board should also put on hold the § 401 “upland” certifications for both the ACP and MVP until the Board has completed its review of public comments on the adequacy of NWP 12 and the Board has determined whether it will take additional action. Likewise, while petitions for rehearing are pending…
Can you imagine what our recent torrential thunderstorms are doing to the exposed terrain and rivers and streams along the paths of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP)? (See photo on the right of huge mudslide at a Mountain Valley Pipeline construction site in Franklin County.)This is yet another example of why these fracked gas pipeline projects should not be rushed and why we can't rely on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12) to ensure our waterways are protected. It's up to Virginia to step up in this process, and the way to do this is by requiring a stream-by-stream review of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines. The Virginia State Water Control Board opened a new 30-day public comment period -- deadline has been extended to June 15 due to DEQ computer problems -- to hear citizens’ input on where the nationwide permit falls short in upholding state water quality standards and where stream-by-stream reviews are needed for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines. Tell the State Water Control Board to protect Virginia waters. We should not use a federal “blanket” permit to allow pipeline construction!  The Nationwide Permit 12 is inappropriate for projects of this size, and our state Department of Environmental Quality should be analyzing the likely impacts at each water crossing instead. Remember, YOU are the expert on the water resources that you use in your area. If you are downstream from either pipeline’s path, your use of waters…