From the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition:
Governor Northam: Stand with Your Citizen Board and Respect its Authority
On April 23, 2018, the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition sent a letter asking Governor Ralph Northam to order the Department of Environmental Quality to carry out the commands of the Virginia State Water Control Board to ensure additional and necessary reviews of destructive pipeline proposals.
DEQ has so far failed to advertise a 30-day public comment period the Board ordered on April 12, 2018, to help the Board determine whether evidence requires the State to conduct individual waterbody crossing analyses for the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipeline projects. As of the time of the letter, DEQ had failed to act. Therefore, we must ask: “what’s the holdup?” The motion the Board adopted on April 12th was neither complicated nor unclear – DEQ had all of the information it needed to draft a notice that reflected that motion and begin the 30-day period in which comments are to be accepted within hours, not weeks.
Time is of the essence, if the State of Virginia is to exercise the authority it rightly reserved to reject the rubber-stamp approvals the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued for these activities in our most sensitive and valuable waters. With every day it delays, DEQ heightens the risk that one or both of the pipeline companies will begin ripping and blasting through our precious streams and wetlands with no proper analyses to ensure state water quality standards will not be violated.
Also addressed in the letter is DEQ’s proclamation that it intends to ignore the Board’s order, that the Board will “have a chance to ‘consider further actions on the [ACP] Certification following the review of the DEQ report” and that the public’s comments will be available to the Board when it makes its decision. DEQ Director Paylor attempted to justify this stance with an incomplete and unsound legal justification. In essence, Mr. Paylor told the Board the ACP certification exceeded the Board’s authority and that he was prepared to act on his opinions, not those expressed by the Board in the plain language of its approval and the extensive discussion that supported that approval.
The DPMC letter concludes:
“We ask that the public notice ordered by the Board be issued immediately and be accompanied by all records DEQ has relied upon. Also, we trust that you will order DEQ to abide by the Board’s order that further process be conducted for the upland certification for ACP.”