From Wild Virginia:
Virginia DEQ Assesses Fines for Ongoing MVP Violations
The Agency Waited Many Months to Act
Today, it was disclosed that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is assessing a fine of $86,000 against the Mountain Valley Pipeline for violations of water quality requirements from September, 2019 through March of this year.
We are happy that the DEQ has finally taken action in response to MVP’s repeated violations. However, we are puzzled as to why the agency needed this long to enforce the provisions of the consent decree.
As we pointed out in a letter to Director Paylor in February, a number of these violations occurred in October of 2019. According to David Sligh, Wild Virginia’s Conservation Director, “I can imagine no excuse for waiting 8 months to enforce the law – this negates the whole idea of the stipulated penalties provided for in the consent decree, which is that punishment is to be swift and certain so that it truly deters bad behavior. I also must wonder whether this action would have been taken at all, if we had not publicly exposed these problems and called on DEQ to act.”
We note that some violations were found in the first quarter of this year. Perhaps if the violations from 2019 had been addressed earlier, MVP would have tried harder to avoid this ongoing noncompliance.
As we have stated repeatedly, during a period when MVP is supposed to be doing nothing but repair and maintenance of pollution control measures, the kinds of violations DEQ has found is especially unacceptable. In cases cited by DEQ where the period allowed for repairs or corrections was exceeded, the maximum delay was 19 days and on several other occasions exceeded ten days. These cannot be claimed as mistakes. MVP seems to be openly flouting the law and DEQ needs to be much more aggressive in its enforcement. After more than 300 violations in the enforcement lawsuit, the public had a right to expect that DEQ would get serious about preventing environmental damage, not just documenting it after the fact. Will nearly 30 more violations since that time convince DEQ leadership to now act as they should?