Three legislators from southwest Virginia have introduced several bills in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly aimed at protecting water quality and landowner rights from the construction of fracked-gas pipelines, such as the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines. The bills would require the Department of Environmental Quality to perform robust water permitting and impact review, and restrict the ability of pipeline companies to access private property. The new General Assembly convened January 10 for its 2018 session.
Delegate Chris Hurst has introduced HB 1187 and HB 1188. Delegate Sam Rasoul has introduced HB 1141 and HB 1294. Senator John Edwards has introduced SB 324, a companion bill to HR 1187.
Among statements issued regarding the legislation are the following:
Peter Anderson, Appalachian Voices: “We applaud Delegates Rasoul and Hurst and Senator Edwards for standing up for their communities, and for Virginians all across the state. These bills demonstrate their understanding of the enormous, unnecessary and harmful impacts the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines would have on people and on the environment. These legislators are showing leadership and using their office to make positive change in the commonwealth, as they were elected to do. Bravo.”
Roberta Bondurant, Preserve Bent Mountain, a member of Protect our Water, Heritage, Rights Coalition (POWHR): “It is time for our elected officials to acknowledge and reckon with the abuses imposed on landowners in pipeline surveying. Landowners along the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline route have endured chaos, from failure to require identification of surveyors, to police officials hamstrung by technicalities of enforcement and failure of the courts to hold the pipeline company’s representatives accountable. Southwest Virginia has been like the ‘Wild Wild West’ since this massive pipeline was proposed. Without reform, our communities are guaranteed more of the same abuse. We appreciate Sen. Edwards, Del. Rasoul, and Del. Hurst and their commitment to working for the rights of their constituents.”
Nancy Sorrells, Augusta County Alliance, a member of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA): “The impacts of the interstate pipeline projects proposed in Virginia will be immense, and without safeguards like those proposed today, Virginians will be in harm’s way. We don’t get a second chance to get this right. Now’s the time for the legislature to put citizens’ health and safety above corporate interests.”