“The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has refused to seriously consider that it may need to deny water quality certifications . . . as demonstrated by its words and actions” for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and the Mountain Valley Pipeline, so stated a strongly-worded July 25 letter to Virginia Governor McAuliffe by the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC). The letter charged:
Your top environmental officials have structured review and approval processes such that the result, if not the intent, is that the true cumulative impacts on our water resources will not be honestly documented or unacceptable damages prohibited. Rather, the DEQ has devised a confusing and evolving system of partial and inadequate regulatory measures that do not fulfill its legal duties. Most of the state actions done outside individual Clean Water Act section 401 reviews exclude citizens from any useful role. By following a piecemeal approach and segregating reviews of various pollution threats, DEQ proposes to avoid unified considerations of impacts. The Department has misled the public and, we believe, you and other elected officials as well with unfounded assurances that it is using all proper authorities to protect our waters and our communities and giving the public the chance to be fully involved.
DPMC points out that in a July 19 presentation to the State Water Control Board, the body that will decide whether or not the ACP and MVP will be certified under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (certification is required if the pipelines are to be built), the DEQ’s Permitting Division Director, Melanie Davenport, “failed to explain to the Board that denial of water quality certifications was an option or that such denials were required unless conformance with all state standards is assured. Thus, your administration is misleading the Board and failing in its duty to see that legal processes are properly explained and conducted.” A recording of Ms. Davenport’s presentation is available at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/2343624811914221319.
The DPMC letter concludes:
Only you can set these processes back on the correct path. Only you can ensure that your promises will be met – that these projects will not be approved unless full protection of citizens’ rights and interests are respected and that the public is involved at each step. We are counting on you.