West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced November 1 that “the state has chosen to waive the individual 401 Certification of the federal permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline . The Army Corps of Engineers recently reissued, with provisions that are specific to West Virginia, the Nationwide 12 permit which is used for stream crossings. These new conditions, when combined with specific requirements that are included in the state’s storm water permit, will allow for better enforcement capabilities and enhanced protection for the state’s waters.”
In response to the DEP announcement, several environmental and conservation groups called the agency’s action a “dereliction of duty.” Angie Rosser, Executive Director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, noted that “DEP is a taxpayer-supported agency whose job is to protect public health and the environment. It appears that political favor to industry has won the day over the agency’s responsibility to do everything in its power to protect the public’s right to clean water.”
Anne Havemann, General Counsel of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said that “West Virginia’s decision to waive its right to protect hundreds of streams and rivers from MVP is a complete abdication of its duty and an irreparable breach of the public’s trust.”
The POWHR coalition, which is leading the fight against the Mountain Valley Pipeline, also issued a statement: “In light of West Virginia’s ill-advised choice today, we want to amplify our call to Virginia’s State Water Control Board to exercise every ounce of muscle it has in oversight of the permitting request for the Mountain Valley and the Atlantic Coast pipelines and in the full application of the Clean Water Act. “
The DEP has not yet announced a decision regarding its Section 401 review of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.