The conditional approval of a water quality certificate for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) by the Virginia State Water Control Board on Tuesday afternoon, December 12, capped a two-day meeting that varied from moment to moment between serious presentations and deliberations and utter confusion exhibited by the staff of the Department of Environmental Quality. For those persons present for the proceedings, it was a regulatory roller coaster ride.
The Board agreed by a 4-3 vote to approve certifying the ACP under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, subject to the completion of several outstanding plans yet to be submitted in final form by the applicant. The final language of the Board’s action has at this writing not been posted on the DEQ webpage for the ACP project. But, according to information available at the meeting, the following appears to be the relevant operative language in the motion adopted by the Board:
“This certificate shall be effective only following submission, review, and final approval as required by law of the Karst Mitigation Plan, Annual Standards and Specifications, Stormwater Plans, and Erosion and Sediment Control Plans, and a report to the Board and the public by DEQ on the adequacy of these materials. The Board may consider further actions on the Certification following the review of the DEQ report.”
DEQ staff has indicated that the required reports may not be completed and submitted for review until March or April 2018. Staff has also said that construction cannot begin “until the final erosion and sediment control plans are approved.” Further analysis of the State Water Control Board decision is being conducted and will be reported on in forthcoming issues of ABRA Update.