From Sen. Jennifer McClellan’s office:
McClellan’s Pipeline Accountability Bill Passes Senate
Bill Will Increase Protections for Virginia Waterways, Now Heads to Gov’s Desk
RICHMOND, VA – Today, Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond)’s Pipeline Accountability, Oversight, and Protection of Virginia’s Water Act (SB 1311) passed the Virginia Senate. The bill will protect clean water in Virginia by enabling the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to make a fully informed decision about new interstate gas pipeline projects and protecting Virginia’s authority over the Commonwealth’s water quality. SB 1311 passed the Senate 20-19, and now heads to Governor Ralph Northam’s desk.
Sen. McClellan’s bill requires interstate pipeline applicants explain to DEQ how their proposed plans will ensure compliance with Virginia’s water quality standards through detailed erosion, sediment and stormwater plans. This will help protect Virginia’s clean water act authority and clarify that nothing prohibits Virginia regulators from denying Section 401 certification in accordance with federal law.
“This is a major step forward for clean water and environmental protection in Virginia,” said Sen. McClellan. “This bill will allow Virginia state government officials to review pipeline project plans and make fully informed decisions regarding the protection of water quality in the Commonwealth. My Pipeline Accountability, Oversight, and Protection of Virginia’s Water Acts ensures greater accountability over companies constructing interstate gas pipelines and continues stewardship of our environment and clean waterways.”
“Wild Virginia very much appreciates Senator McClellan’s strong advocacy for this measure, which will give our waters and our communities additional protections against huge gas pipelines,” said David Sligh, Conservation Director at Wild Virginia. “We have learned that projects like the Mountain Valley Pipeline can create great damage to our valuable resources and harm to Virginians affected by them. We believe this amendment to Virginia law lessens the chance that these problems will occur in the future.”
“This bill is a strong, commonsense improvement to the Commonwealth’s review of large, interstate gas pipelines,” said Peter Anderson, Virginia Policy Director of Appalachian Voices. “Senator McClellan’s bill protects communities and water quality in Virginia by ensuring that decisions are fully informed by all relevant information, and by ensuring that the Commonwealth preserves and protects its authority over water quality. We thank Senator McClellan for her leadership.”
“We salute Senator McClellan for her leadership in carrying this important bill,” said Peggy Sanner, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Virginia Executive Director. “The bill enhances the ability of the Department of Environmental Quality and the State Water Control Board to protect water quality in connection with pipeline projects that may be proposed in the future.”