Six conservation groups have written the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) requesting a meeting with the agency concerning forthcoming water certification requests from Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC (MVP, LLC) for the Mountain Valley Pipeline project. The February 12 letter to DEQ Director David Paylor noted that MVP, LLC had asked for a meeting with DEQ before it files an application with the Virginia agency for certification under section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and a separate application with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a permit under Section 404 of the CWA.
The conservation groups’ letter stated:
We request that DEQ also meet with representatives of the undersigned groups before the 401 request is submitted, to discuss issues associated with these regulatory processes. These include both procedural matters and substantive requirements to be applied at the application stage and in the review of Mountain Valley’s 401 request.
The most urgent procedural issue is the necessity for DEQ to determine the steps it must take to avoid waiving the state’s authority to act on Mountain Valley’s 401 request. It would be unconscionable for DEQ to allow waiver by inaction or to affirmatively give away its authority. We seek your assurance that the state will not do so. At the same time, DEQ must not rush its application review and preparation of documents to deny or issue certification based on unreasonable deadlines.
Director Paylor responded by email on February 16, as follows:
We are very aware of the issues you raise in your letter and completely agree that the number one priority is maintaining Virginia regulatory oversight. We are currently gathering information and talking with counsel to assess the best path forward and I will definitely let you know when we are prepared to talk with you. This is a very important issue to get right.
The organizations signing the letter to Director Paylor were Wild Virginia, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, National Resources Defense Council, POWHR Coalition, Preserve Craig and Sierra Club Virginia Chapter.