The July 19 regular meeting of the Virginia Water Control Board will include a public forum comment period, as is usual for such meetings, but it will not be permitted for people to address the Board on the substance of the proposed draft decision documents for certifying the Atlantic Coast (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipelines (MVP). Water Control Board procedures “provide an opportunity for citizens to address the Board on matters other than those on the agenda, pending regulatory actions or pending case decisions.” The water quality certification proposals, being considered pursuant to Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act, are considered “pending regulatory actions.”
ABRA conferred with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, which provides staff for the Board. It was pointed out that those wishing to provide comments on the certification proposals can do so during the comment period that ends August 22, either through written comments or at one of the 5 public hearings (3 for the ACP, 2 for the MVP), as detailed in last week’s ABRA Update.
DEQ staff did say that while interested citizens would not be permitted to discuss the water quality certification proposals for the two pipelines at the meeting on the 19th, there would be no prohibition on comments made about the process in general, such as the decision of the DEQ to consider the ACP’s yet-to-be filed Erosion and Sediment Control Plan separate from the consideration of the 401 applications, or the fact that an inadequate number of public hearings at locations proximate to the pipeline route have been scheduled. The July 19 meeting will begin at 9:30 am, but the public forum portion is not expected to be taken up until toward 1 pm., according to DEQ staff. Staff also said that persons who show up later in the morning will still be permitted to sign up to speak. More details on the Water Control Board’s meeting, including an agenda, are available here. Persons commenting are asked to limit their presentations to 3 minutes or less.