I’m finding the information provided by the Virginia DEQ to be fairly opaque, definitely NOT user friendly. For instance, they’ve got the comments – or summaries in many cases – in Excel spreadsheets, which seems crazy to me. Plus, everything’s in a gigantic zip file. So…this is a LOT harder than it should be. With those caveats, see below for a few more comments (or summaries of comments by DEQ) regarding Dominion’s proposed fracked-gas pipeline monstrosities, in addition to the comments I posted yesterday from Tom Perriello.
Comments by Del. Kaye Kory:
I would like to request that the Department of Environmental Quality extend the Section 401 certification public comment period by 40 additional days to discuss the potential impact the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines could have on water quality. This will also allow more time to conduct additional public hearings in impacted localities such as Franklin, Roanoke, Montgomery, Giles, Nelson, Augusta, Buckingham and Bath County.
These pipeline projects are so controversial due to the potential for serious environmental damage which could never be repaired, that it is imperative that DEQ and Dominion offer additional public hearings in the Commonwealth — not only in the areas immediately impacted. All Virginians are stakeholders in protecting our environment, and of course, in ensuring adequate provision of power.
Comments by Paige Perriello:
To Whom it May Concern:
I am a general pediatrician practicing in Charlottesville, VA, where I was also born and raised. My objections to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have everything to do with my work as a pediatrician working for the safety of children in our area. I am concerned that the waters of the Commonwealth will be harmed by the construction and existence of the pipeline and that this could affect generations of families.I am writing to request that the DEQ require individual water quality certifications for each wetland and stream crossing rather than rely on the corps permit. As citizens of this great Commonwealth, we we will not stand for our water being compromised, tainted, or polluted by a fracked-gas pipeline that is NOT for public need or usage. Clean water is our right and I believe it is DEQ’s responsibility to safeguard Virginia’s water resources.
Thank you for reading my comment and, again, on behalf of the children of the Commonwealth, I ask that you not issue a Section 401 certification for this destructive project.
Paige Perriello, MD
Comments by Former Virginia Sierra Club Director Glen Besa:
Please accept these comments regarding the 401 Water Quality Permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). I am also filing reciprocal comments on the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) because the issue I am raising relates to both projects and to DEQ’s and State Water Control Board’s responsibility under 9VAC25-210-130.H.1. and related applicable statutes that “require that wetland or stream impacts be avoided and minimized to the maximum extent practicable.”
The ACP and the MVP are massive pipeline projects that would cause significant impairment of state waters which DEQ and the SWCB are obligated to avoid and minimize. These projects are duplicative, moving natural gas from the same regions of West Virginia and connecting to the same pipeline networks and serving the customer base. As such, DEQ and the SWCB are obligated under state law to assess if both or either of the pipelines are needed before issuing a permit for the ACP (or the MVP) that would cause unnecessary and significant impairment of state waters. The approval of the ACP and MVP would fail to avoid and minimize wetland and stream impacts to the “maximum extent practicable” as required by 9VAC25-210-130.H.1.
Similarly. VA Code, § 62.1-11.C provides “the waste or unreasonable use or unreasonable method of use of water should be prevented; and the conservation of such water is to be exercised with a view to the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth and their interest in the reasonable and beneficial use thereof.”
Also, applicable, are VA Code, § 62.1-11.D and E. These provisions of state law direct DEQ and the SWCB to protect the waters of the state providing that “D. the public welfare and interest of the people of the Commonwealth require the proper development, wise use, conservation and protection of water resources together with protection of land resources, as affected thereby,” and that “E. The right to the use of water or to the flow of water in or from any natural stream, lake or other watercourse in this Commonwealth is and shall be limited to such water as may reasonably be required for the beneficial use of the public to be served; such right shall not extend to the waste or unreasonable use or unreasonable method of use of such water.”
The permitting of the duplicative ACP and MVP fail to satisfy the “wise use, conservation and protection of water resources together with protection of land resources” particularly applicable to the steep slopes and slide prone areas along much to the pipeline right of way. The ACP and the MVP in serving the same pipeline network and region also exceed the statutory limitation that they may only use “such water as may reasonably be required for the beneficial use of the public to be served; such right shall not extend to the waste or unreasonable use or unreasonable method of use of such water.”
The duplicative nature of applications obligate DEQ and the SWCB to fully assess the “beneficial use” to the public of approving two projects together that would constitute a “waste or unreasonable use” of state water resources.
The duplicative nature of these two pipelines and the resulting “waste or unreasonable use” of state water resources which DEQ and the SWCB are obligated to “avoid and minimize” requires that the agency and the board adopt one of the following measures:
a. Deny the permits/approvals for both the ACP and the MVP. DEQ and the SWCB may want to suggest that the developers of the these two projects undertake an independent joint assessment of the need for two pipelines and how that need could be met at the least harm to the waters of the state.
b. Declare the applications for the ACP and the MVP to be incomplete because both applications grossly overstated the beneficial use of water resources by the respective projects because each application ignores the unnecessary harm to state water resources resulting from duplicative projects being approved by DEQ and the SWCB.
Thank you for considering these comments,
DEQ notes on Pastor comments by Paul Wilson (Union Hill and Union Grove Churches). “Both Churches within 1 mile of compressor station in Virginia. Impacts on quality of life in rural and economically depressed areas not given the same weight as urban areas. Potential health issues, especially for elderly and infants. Questions purpose and need.”
DEQ notes on Sen. Creigh Deeds’ comments: “Further study to be published on county and city water supply recharge area, consider wind and solar power, use current road ways and powerlines as alt. route…Rural community impacts. DEQ should use the full scope of authority. Do not rely on NW-12 for Virginia WQS. Public and DEQ should require more time to review and conduct comprehensive and transparent analysis of water crossings and related upland activities.”
DEQ notes on Del. Sam Rasoul’s comments: ” Rural community impacts. DEQ should use the full scope of authority. Do not rely on NW-12 for Virginia WQS. Public and DEQ should require more time to review and conduct comprehensive and transparent analysis of water crossings and related upland activities.”
DEQ notes on environmental attorney Jason Rylander’s comments: “Extend comment period,DEQ should require site-specific review of all waters likely to be impacted by the project and not rely on NWP 12 to protect Virginia’s rivers, streams, and wetlands. DEQ must fully consider all relevant erosion, sediment, and stormwater control plans as an integral part of the Section 401 process. Finally, DEQ should make all such plans public and extend the public comment period to allow for a full and fair review of this information.”
Comments by Blue Virginia contributor and Democratic activist Carrie Pruett:
“DEQ has the job of reviewing the impacts on Virginia’s water quality of the proposed fracked-gas pipelines.
We are talking about gas that has been in the ground for millions of years, and fossil fuel infrastructure that will persist for at least 50 years.
Once the decision is made to put these pipelines in place, it cannot be reversed. I urge DEQ to take the time to:
– Do a site-specific review of each individual stream crossings; and
– Extend the public comment period to 90 days.
For DEQ’s work to have any legitimacy, the public needs to have faith in the accuracy of the science and evidence that are being considered.
The public also needs to have faith in the process that is being used. It is impossible to have faith in this process as it currently stands, when:
– DEQ issued statements suggesting that a site-specific review would be conducted, then reversed without explanation.
– The evidence presented in favor of the pipeline construction comes almost exclusively from people who have a financial interest
or are affiliated with a group that has a financial interest in the construction of the pipelines.
– The independent evidence and science presented by experts in environmental fields overwhelmingly supports a finding that the pipelines will have a detrimental — and in the case of the spills or ruptures that have proven common with other fracked gas pipelines, potentially disastrous — effect on water quality
– DEQ is meant to be a regulatory agency that protects the environment, not a jobs-creation task force, yet most of the arguments submitted in favor of the pipeline are (biased and specious) statements about job creation, together with unsubstantiated or flat out false claims that no leaks or accidents ever occur in this type of pipeline.
I am confident that a complete review of the Mountain Valley Pipeline will show that there is no way it can be built and operated without harming water quality. The Virginia DEQ must recommend denial of the water quality certifications for the pipelines unless it can ensure compliance with all federal and state water-quality standards.