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Gov. Northam Announces Additional Powers To Protect Virginia’s Clean Water; Now He Needs to Go Much Further

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From Gov. Northam’s office; this is good but not nearly sufficient. Gov Northam needs to take a strong stand, right now, against both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline, as they are both environmentally destructive and massive wastes of money that could be much better spent elsewhere.

Governor Northam Announces Additional Powers To Protect Virginia’s Clean Water

RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam today announced additional powers to expand the Commonwealth’s ability to protect clean water. SB698 andSB699 establish processes in state law to allow the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to issue a stop work order on all or part of land-disturbing activities associated with natural gas pipeline construction if DEQ determines those activities have caused, or will imminently cause, a substantial adverse impact to water quality. On Saturday, the General Assembly accepted Governor Northam’s amendment adding an emergency clause to each bill and the measures are currently in effect.

“I want to thank Senator Creigh Deeds and the Department of Environmental Quality for working together to empower the Commonwealth to halt construction on the pipelines if there is a serious threat to water quality,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay, and all the rivers and streams in between, our water quality is of paramount importance to our health and our economy and I will protect it as long as I am Governor.”

“If the pipelines go forward, it’s imperative that DEQ have the tools it needs to assure the people of the Commonwealth that water quality will not be compromised,” said Senator Creigh Deeds. “Thanks to DEQ staff for their tireless work to help get these bills through the legislative process, to Governor Northam for his timely amendments and for signing the bills, and to the conservation groups who added their voices to this important conversation.”

“We are pleased the General Assembly agreed to give DEQ the additional authority to protect water quality, and we will use these tools to exercise rigorous enforcement to ensure our water is protected and our natural areas are preserved,” said DEQ Director David Paylor.

Full Release

  • From the Virginia DEQ:

    DEQ Takes Enforcement Action Against Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC

    RICHMOND, VA. – The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (ACP) on March 16, 2018, for failing to maintain adequate limits of disturbance during tree felling operations in violation of Virginia’s State Water Control Law. These limits forbid work within buffer zones to protect stream and wetland crossings during pipeline development, and are instrumental to the protection of Virginia’s environment and natural resources.

    The NOV identifies violations on 15 separate sites resulting in an estimated 0.84 acres in impact to wetlands and streams.

    “DEQ is watching pipeline activities closely and expects full compliance with all conditions,” said David K. Paylor, Director. “We will not hesitate to initiate enforcement actions like this to make sure the project complies with good environmental standards.”

    The NOV requires ACP representatives to contact DEQ within 10 days to discuss how to remedy the situation and explain how they will prevent future violations.

    While limited tree felling is allowed, the activity cannot impact riparian areas. Furthermore, land disturbance cannot begin until all of the erosion and sediment and stormwater control plans required for all sections of the project are approved by DEQ. “The agency’s review of the project has been the most thorough in the history of the Commonwealth, and the enforcement will be as rigorous,” said Director Paylor.

    The issuance of an NOV is the first step in triggering enforcement action by DEQ. Enforcement actions are frequently resolved with payment of a civil charge and required action to correct the violation. A copy of the NOV can be obtained on DEQ’s webpage http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Portals/0/DEQ/Enforcement/NaturalGasPipelines/ACPLLCFinalNOV03162018.pdf

    The 600-mile underground Atlantic Coast Pipeline originates in West Virginia and travels through Virginia and North Carolina. The pipeline is being developed jointly by Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Piedmont natural Gas and Southern Company Gas. Though the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has independent authority over many of the procedures related to federal pipeline development, DEQ is able to exercise enforcement authority over many aspects of the project.