There’s a monstrous quality to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline. It’s not just that the pipelines promise to permanently scar the natural forests, valleys and mountains through which they will plow to bring gas to foreign markets. Nor is it the damage to local water resources that will occur. Nor is it the use of eminent domain to override the protests of local homeowners and landowners, or the damage to their property, or the very real possibility of fractures and leaks along the lines. It’s not even the obvious problem of increasing our carbon footprint by burning natural gas and leeching methane– a by-product of the fracking process– into the atmosphere at a time when scientists are warning that their previous predictions of climate change were too mild and that the worst case scenarios they had envisioned are likely the most accurate (http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/global-warming-temperature-rise-climate-change-end-century-science-a8095591.html). No, it’s the perfect, domino-like quality as each of these arguments, and more, fall to the economic and political collusion of the energy companies and our state government.
Last Thursday, December 7th, despite public comments in opposition to the water-quality certification approval at a ratio of about 90 to 1, a 7 member Virginia State Water Control Board (SWCB) –ostensibly the citizen’s representation — rubber stamped its approval. According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, after the Virginia State Water Control Board approved the certification, 5-2, At least one member of the audience screamed profanities at the board members and vowed to visit them where they live.
The next day, Friday December 8, 2017, Appalachian Mountain Advocates filed a petition for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to overturn Virginia’s unlawful approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). The litigation was filed on behalf of the Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and Wild Virginia. One can only hope that this action does better than previous attempts to forestall a monstrosity that will not benefit Virginians, except those who have stock in Dominion Power and Duke Energy. Or those who depend on those power companies for political clout and funding come campaign time, including, of course, Governor-Elect Ralph Northam and Governor Terry McAuliffe, the last of whom was probably responsible for pressuring the DEQ and the SWCB in its approval vote.
According to Greg Buppert, Senior Attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center: “After hearing from numerous citizens and officials that the Water Board did not have the information it needed to approve the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the Board failed to insist on a thorough, science-based review of this project. Their decision to move this pipeline project forward reflects the political pressure that Governor McAuliffe has put on his agencies to approve gas pipelines before he leaves office. But the Board still has the chance to acknowledge and remedy this broken process by sending plans back to Dominion next week at the Atlantic Coast Pipeline hearings and reversing today’s decision on the Mountain Valley Pipeline. As Virginia’s watchdog for water quality, the Board must ensure that Dominion doesn’t abuse its political power to push through a risky and unnecessary project like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”
According to Wild Virginia, the filing “asserts that the Board has failed to base its decision on adequate and complete information and, therefore, lacks a rational basis for its action. All parties admit that vital information and analyses were missing at this time yet the Board endorsed DEQ’s recommendation to approve the rushed permit decision.”
The press release also highlights the fact that the Board issued the permit regardless of seriously incomplete information from MVP. “‘The DEQ’s erosion and sediment control plans and stormwater control plans are incomplete and have not been presented to the Board,’ said David Sligh, Wild Virginia’s Conservation Director. ‘Karst analyses are incomplete. Data related to specific waterbody crossings is non-existent. The Nationwide 12 permit has not yet been authorized and determined to be applicable. The procedure is not based on sound science and is legally flawed. We cannot accept this betrayal of our trust and our rights without challenge,’ Sligh stated.
This Monday, December 11, 2017, the Virginia State Water Control Board will have another round of open hearings for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline at 9:30 a.m. at the Trinity Family Life Center, 3601 Dill Road, Richmond, VA.
There will be a follow up meeting, Tuesday, December 12, 2017 at the same location. Likely there will be a heavy police presence, but if you can make it to either meeting, please attend. When fighting giants, you need as many boots on the ground as possible.