The Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) has asked the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for transparency and broad public input in the agency’s reviews of water quality applications for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) requires that an applicant for a federal license or permit provide a certification that any discharges from the facility will comply with the act, including state-established water quality standard requirements. Individual states are empowered to issue such certification. Last year, the State of New York denied Section 401 certification for the proposed Constitution Pipeline project, effectively shutting down the project (though the decision is being appealed in the courts by the project’s developers).
DEQ announced on April 6 that it would conduct individual analysis for the ACP and MVP projects. The DPMC’s letter of May 15 requests that the water quality applications for pipelines promptly be made available online to inform the public of the submittals and to provide timely and ready access to relevant documents. The letter also asks that DEQ hold multiple hearings along the routes of each pipelines so that interested citizens can participate in the proceedings without traveling long distances. Specifically, the DPMC urges a minimum of three hearings along the ACP route and at least two hearings along the MVP route.
The DPMC letter also describes information and analyses that the applications should include before the agency can properly consider them. DPMC notes that DEQ has already expressed several areas of concerns in the agency’s comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in its comments on the ACP Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Concluding, the DPMC states:
Citizens of Virginia expect and will demand more from DEQ, in keeping with Governor McAuliffe’s promises that these projects be “constructed in the most environmentally protective manner.” And if the most environmentally protective methods are shown to violate the State’s requirements, they may not be constructed. Again, we are encouraged that DEQ has chosen to conduct individual analyses and public hearings for each project, in which all water quality-related aspects of each proposal will be assessed. The State can determine whether each project is legally permissible, only if such detailed and comprehensive reviews are completed.