The following text was provided by the Virginia Conservation Network as a partner alert
The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is hosting a series of public hearings on the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). These public hearings are designed to seek public comment on the DEQ’s proposed water quality permit (401 Certification).
Background / Talking Points:
Natural gas pipelines are poised to have the largest environmental impact in Virginia since the construction of interstate highways during the 1960’s. Crossing steep, high mountains, national forests, streams and rivers, fertile farm fields, unstable karst geology and public water supplies, gas pipelines have the potential to severely impact our communities, natural and historic resources, and more than double greenhouse gas emissions in the Commonwealth.
While much of the authority to approve / deny these pipelines is with federal decision makers, the authority delegated to states under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act is the single most important authority Virginia has to protect our waterways. In July, over 80 organizations joined a letter calling on the DEQ to expand the scope of the 401 certification by reviewing each individual stream crossing (versus using a blanket permit from the Army Corps). In a letter received last week (attached), this request was denied.
DEQ released their draft 401 certification last week. While the certification does address some mitigation efforts for upland terrain, DEQ did not consider erosion and sediment control or stormwater management plans. DEQ has stated those measures will be addressed in a separate regulatory process from the 401 certification — even though they will have a huge impact on Virginia’s water quality.
The State Water Control Board will vote at the end of October to approve or deny the 401 water quality certification. We are now calling on the State Water Control Board to reject the 401 certification until the DEQ uses their full authority under the Clean Water Act to guarantee our waterways will not be impaired by the development of these pipelines. There are two important main points being made by partners in their comments:
- DEQ has structured the water quality review in order to meet Dominion’s aggressive timeline versus structuring a process that fully protects our waterways. Meaning, the water board members are being asked to make a decision before getting the information they need. For more background and talking points, see this factsheet by Shenandoah Valley Network.
- Even looking at the limited scope of the current 401 certification, major improvements need to be made. For more background and talking points, see these suggested talking points by Wild Virginia.
Submitting a Public Comment:
The public comment period is open now until 11:59 p.m., August 22, 2017. When providing written comments, you must include your name and mailing address. If representing a group of people, DEQ asks that you include the names, mailing addresses, and telephone numbers of the persons being represented (such as an organization’s members). Comments should be related to the merits or issues contained in the proposed 401 certification.
You can submit public comments the following ways:
- Hand-deliver – Drop at one of the scheduled hearings (below) or DEQ’s Office of Wetlands & Stream Protection, 629 East Main St., Richmond, VA 23219 during business hours from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Mail – Office of Wetlands & Stream Protection, P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218.
- Email – Atlantic Coast Pipeline project: firstname.lastname@example.org and / or Mountain Valley Pipeline: email@example.com
Attending a Public Hearing:
All hearings will be held from 6pm – 10pm. We recommended you arrive at least 30 minutes early to sign in. You can find exact address as well as details on parking here: http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/ProtectionRequirementsforPipelines.aspx
- Monday Aug 7th – Harrisonburg (ACP)
- Tuesday Aug 8th – Radford (MVP)
- Wednesday Aug 9th, Chatham (MVP)
- Thursday Aug 10th – Farmville (ACP)
- Monday Aug 14th – Alberta (ACP)
Public Hearing Procedures (from DEQ)
- In order to speak, you must sign in with your name, address, and email address (if you have one).
- Upon signing in, you will receive a tab with an “S” on it. Take the “S” tab to the ticketer to get a sequentially-numbered ticket. Speakers will be called upon in numeric order at the assigned time during the hearing. Please keep this ticket — lost tickets will require you to sign in again.
- Each commenter may speak up to 3 minutes only. The hearing officer will provide specific instructions and announce when or if a change to this time limit is necessary.
- No signs, food, open beverages, or backpacks are allowed in the hearing building entryway, foyer, or room. Signs may be placed outside the venue as allowed by the property owner.
- Tables may not be set up and written materials by other groups may not be distributed inside the hearing building entryway, foyer, or room. Written materials may be distributed outside the hearing venue as allowed by the property owner.
- Please be respectful of all speakers and do not speak out during speakers’ comments. Disruptive behavior may result in early adjournment of the hearing.
Delegate Habeeb Community Meetings
In addition to the public hearings, Delegate Habeeb is hosting two community meetings on the MVP on August 10th. The first is 1:00pm in Newport. The second 5:00pm in Roanoke. Verbal comments will not be considered officially submitted to DEQ. Register at www.greghabeeb.com/mvp.
For more information:
Kate Wofford, Shenandoah Valley Network
Charmayne Staloff, Southern Environmental Law Center
Kirk Bowers, Sierra Club – Virginia Chapter
(434) 296 8673
PS – In the Path of the Pipeline If you haven’t seen the great videos produced by Southern Environmental Law Center “In the Path of the Pipeline” check them out! https://www.southernenvironment.org/projects/path-of-the-pipeline