by Virginia environmental activist Lee Williams
Virginia’s State Water Control Board’s (SWCB) request for a 30-day comment period to gather additional technical concerns surrounding the insufﬁciency of Army Corps of Engineers Nation Wide Permit 12 (NWP 12) to protect our water, opens this Monday. All written comments must be received between April 30, 2018 and 11:59 pm on May 30, 2018.
“After the comment period closes, the Department of Environmental Quality will evaluate the comments and submit a summary of the relevant comments to the board.”
Am I the only one who sees a problem with this process? DEQ admits to screening the comments and only sharing the ones they deem relevant. They will control and parcel out only what they want our SWCB to see. I attended the April 12 SWCB meeting, and was present when the Board made the request for more comments. This is deﬁnitely not what they intended, and it’s my opinion that DEQ is clearly attempting to manipulate data and keep them out of the pipeline process.
The administration is obviously doubling down on Ralph Northam’s message and isn’t willing to budge. I will equate DEQ’s careless mistreatment of our natural resources with the Governor’s callous and negligent behavior toward peaceful water protectors occupying trees on Bent and Peter’s Mountain. Virginians are being brutalized by militarized police forces, backed by state authorities and mercenary security. There is no excuse for military tactics being used on behalf of a private corporation that’s beneﬁting from government and private lands, against peaceful protesters who believe the pipeline will irreparably harm sacred sites and drinking water.
The administration’s careless behavior is encouraging inhumane treatment of these protectors, with Governor/Doctor Ralph Northam doing nothing as citizens of Virginia are psychologically abused and literally starved in their trees, while he mocks them. A response that, considering Northam’s much bandied-about medical preﬁx, I ﬁnd both astonishing and disturbing. We can’t allow DEQ to just go through the motions to placate us and the SWCB. We need a Call to Action to submit technical comments and information for the MVP and ACP projects relevant to:
•the sufﬁciency of the Corps NWP 12 permit’s general and regional conditions, as they relate to speciﬁc, wetland or stream crossing(s);
•the sufﬁciency of the Corps NWP 12 permit authorization for each project, as related to speciﬁc, wetland or stream crossing(s); and
•the sufﬁciency of the Commonwealth’s § 401 water quality certiﬁcation of NWP 12, as related to speciﬁc, wetland or stream crossing(s).
We need on-the-ground stories from landowners and recreational areas where water quality standards will absolutely be violated, and use will be impacted and reduced. We need localities, State and Local Health Department ofﬁcials, State and Federal elected ofﬁcials to make substantial comments regarding risks to ground water. They should highlight ﬂaws in initial Clean Water Act Section 401 applications and analysis that fell through the cracks at both the state and fed levels.
We can do this. We have to do this. For Nutty. For Red and Minor. For Little Teel Crossing. For our wild places. Detailed instructions on how and where you can submit your comments can be found here. Thanks.