by Jon Sokolow
On December 21, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers containing a list of certifications under the Clean Water Act. Buried at page 30 of the letter, which was just released today and published here (see below) for the first time, Virginia DEQ appears to rule that Nationwide Permit 12, a one size fits all general permit, cannot be used by pipelines greater than 36 inches (MVP is 42 inches) to cross hundreds of waterways in Virginia. Instead, MVP will now have to do what advocates have been saying for years – apply for stream by stream reviews and permits for each of the water crossings. DEQ ruled as follows:
“The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) denies water quality certification (WQC) under the NATIONWIDE PERMIT 12 specifically for any applicant to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a certificate of public convenience and necessity pursuant to § 7c of the federal Natural Gas Act (15 U.S.C. § 717f(c)) to construct any natural gas transmission pipeline greater than 36 inches inside diameter, in which case issuance of a Virginia Water Protection Permit pursuant to this article and a certification issued pursuant to Article 2.6 (§62.1-44.15:80 et seq.).”
The decision is regarding the NWP 12 issued by the Trump administration in late 2020. MVP is prohibited from using an earlier version of that permit, issued in 2017, due to a stay issued by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. MVP thus has one more problem to add to the list of obstacles facing this $6 billion corporate boondoggle. The lawyers will sort out what this all means for MVP’s prospects. What is clear for now is this pipeline should never have been proposed, much less approved by federal and state authorities. Maybe reality is finally catching up with science. It is time for MVP to be cancelled.