An “Alice in Wonderland” reality may be the best way to characterize the latest revelation about the plans of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to evaluate the water quality plans for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. It was revealed in a June 28 communication released via the DeSmog blog, that DEQ has hired a contractor – Richmond-based EEE Consulting – to evaluate water quality plans submitted by Dominion Energy for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and that the contractor also does work for Dominion. The DeSmog piece states:
These revelations come shortly after Virginia officials reiterated to both the public and Dominion the objective nature of its review processes.
As the Roanoke Times revealed this week, Virginia’s secretary of natural resources recently told Dominion that the state “will not base their decisions on requests or suggestions from an applicant.” Following several email exchanges and at least one meeting between Dominion lobbyists and DEQ officials, Secretary Molly Ward sent a letter to Dominion advising of the state’s impartiality.
“There could be no pre-determined outcomes,” Ward wrote, “the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a project of enormous scope and complexity and deserves close, objective scrutiny.”
Under constant pressure by the vocal opposition to the pipeline, the DEQ also published a webpage detailing a list of additional conditions it is imposing on Dominion, which go “well beyond other regulatory requirements and will protect water quality across the range of pipeline activities, not just temporary construction impacts to streams and wetlands.” These requirements include the plans now being reviewed by EEE Consulting.
As Alice said 150 years ago, things are getting “Curiouser and curiouser!”