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In Letter to Virginia DEQ, Nearly 100 Organizations Call For Rejection Of New Permits For Mountain Valley Pipeline

"MVP is years behind schedule, billions over budget, is proven immitigable, and has caused immense harm to Virginians’ water and lives."

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See below for a letter from 97 organizations to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, State Water Control Board, and Air Pollution Control Board calling for a rejection of new permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).

Richmond, VA – Ninety-seven organizations, including local, state, and national groups, signed a letter to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, State Water Control Board, and Air Pollution Control Board calling for a rejection of new permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).  The long list of signers included social justice organizations, political organizations, community groups, environmental groups, faith organizations, and farms. 

The letter, written in response to MVP’s recent revelation that it will seek individual state water permits versus relying on the contested Nationwide Permit 12 permit for water crossings, pointed to MVP’s prolonged track record of non-compliance, numerous legal troubles, and ballooning budget.  Highlighting that MVP is under criminal investigation and has repeatedly violated Virginia regulations and caused harm to communities, been proven unneeded by years of nearly flat energy load demand, and continually moves the goalposts of its completion date, the letter acknowledges that the concerns brought forward by a wealth of experts and community members during the project’s permitting process have come to fruition.  Also pointing to years of wasting taxpayer dollars regulating the project despite such obvious grounds for rejecting it to begin with, the letter ultimately concludes that “[i]n order to fulfill the Department’s and Board’s obligation to conserve and protect Virginia’s waterways, DEQ and the Board can only reject any new permit applications for Mountain Valley, or any request from MVP for new permits.”

Queen Zakia Shabazz, Founder of United Parents Against Lead and Coordinator for the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative, said: “There is no need for another gas pipeline that poisons our air and water.  It is time for polluters to stop putting profits over the lives and safety of people.  For the sake of Environmental Justice we urge DEQ to deny all future MVP permit applications.  With continued advocacy and resistance the Mountain Valley Pipeline will go the way of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  Let it be so.”

Lee Anne Williams, Co-director of Green New Deal Virginia, observes: “The Mountain Valley Pipeline has proven to be a hazard to the clean water Virginians depend on, has already caused massive disruption to streams and wetlands, and is a threat to crucial aquifer and drinking water supplies. Virginia needs to invest in renewable technology and create safe, new economic opportunities for solar and wind workers and entrepreneurs in our Commonwealth, not strand billions of dollars in dirty and obsolete fossil fuel infrastructure. We strongly encourage the DEQ and its citizen’s Water and Air Boards to find the courage to change Virginia’s trajectory by boldly and decisively rejecting any new permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline.” 

Stacy Lovelace, Co-founder of Virginia Pipeline Resisters, who organized the letter campaign, said: “This broad range of almost 100 organizations collectively lifted the fact that rejecting new permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline is not only possible and justifiable, but it’s imperative and the only responsible choice.  The DEQ and Boards must acknowledge the same, finally do the right thing, and deny any new permits for MVP and its Southgate extension.”

MVP is also seeking a state air permit for its new Lambert Compressor Station, which would push gas from its mainline into its proposed Southgate extension.  The letter, sent to the regulatory agencies before the deadline for commenting on the air permit application, grants that “[a]pproving a permit for this station, proposed to push gas into North Carolina via MVP’s proposed Southgate extension, would perpetuate environmental injustice and be an insult to injury in the face of all the dangers and lack of need already proven for MVP’s mainline” and urges the rejection of the air permit as well

March 9, 2021

David Paylor, Director of the Department of Environmental Quality;
Melanie Davenport, Water Permitting Division Director;
Mike Dowd, Air & Renewable Energy Division Director;
Members of the State Water Control Board; and
Members of the Air Pollution Control Board
℅ Department of Environmental Quality
1111 East Main St., Suite 1400
Richmond, VA 23219

cc: Anita Walthall, DEQ Blue Ridge Office; Governor Ralph Northam; Secretary of Natural Resources Matt Strickler

Re: New permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Southgate extension

Dear Mr. Paylor; Ms. Davenport; Mr. Dowd; Members of the State Water Control Board; and Members of the Air Pollution Control Board,

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, write to urge you to reject any new permits requested by Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). Virginia has suffered through three years of MVP’s inadequate erosion and sedimentation control practices, which have created horrific, long-lasting sedimentation, streambank collapse, and the loss of species, forest and waters. These are losses from which farmers and communities may never recover.

Over two years after a so-called “enforcement” suit and deal that actually allowed MVP to cover itself via excuses like ‘act of god’ and ‘flood,” and resulted in a mere two million in fines for a six billion dollar project, MVP’s inevitable harms continue.

Under criminal investigation and the subject of continued state complaints and fines, MVP has solidly proven it cannot build its pipeline safely through the mountainous terrain and karst geography through which it is routed. This point is echoed at the federal level where the joint venture LLC is bogged down in litigation over the inadequacy of several agency permits, including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Owing to vacated federal permits, MVP has recently abandoned its original plan to use the general Nationwide Permit 12 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to cross waterbodies, and has indicated its pursuit of individual permits for the hundreds of stream and wetland crossings the pipeline intends to make.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is aware, via the January 26 letter MVP sent to the Department regarding Water Permit Certification Pre-Filing Meeting Request, that MVP intends to submit new applications for crossing waterbodies in Virginia. In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, also dated January 26, MVP claims DEQ and the State Water Control Board’s involvement in the process for these new permits “should be minimized” because MVP submitted a permit application years ago— indicating the company intends to rely heavily on its original permit application which has, repeatedly since 2017, been predicted and proven to be inadequate.

The minimal fines imposed by Virginia for violations, and the hundreds of complaints that DEQ has ignored, have resulted in DEQ allowing a long and appalling track record of unspeakable harms to the Commonwealth, making it no surprise that MVP intends to rely on its first state permit application. Given its clear absence of intent to change trajectory from its original plans, the only reasonable decision by the Department and Board must be to reject MVP’s new permits for the pipeline. MVP is years behind schedule, billions over budget, is proven immitigable, and has caused immense harm to Virginians’ water and lives.

Alarming concerns pointed out by a wealth of experts and impacted community members for years before the pipeline’s original permit was granted by the Water Board, at the behest of DEQ, have come to fruition. State regulatory agencies have wasted Virginians’ tax revenues for years, attempting to regulate a project that has proven itself time and again to be unregulatable – a project that should have been rejected to begin with and has been proven unneeded by years of flat energy load demand in Virginia.

DEQ and the State Water Control Board have the absolute authority to prevent these harms from continuing. In order to fulfill the Department’s and Board’s obligation to conserve and protect Virginia’s waterways, DEQ and the Board can only reject any new permit applications for Mountain Valley, or any request from MVP for new permits.

Especially in light of the above, we further request that DEQ and the Air Pollution Control Board reject the air permit for MVP’s Lambert Compressor Station. Approving a permit for this station, proposed to push gas into North Carolina via MVP’s proposed Southgate extension, would perpetuate environmental injustice and be an insult to injury in the face of all the dangers and lack of need already proven for MVP’s mainline. North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality rejected state water permits for MVP’s Southgate extension, acknowledging that it defies logic to issue permits for an MVP extension when the status of MVP’s mainline is so troubled. Virginia DEQ and state regulatory authorities should acknowledge the same and reject any permits relating to MVP Southgate and its Lambert Compressor station.

Sincerely,

350 Alexandria
350 Loudoun
350 Triangle
350 Fairfax
Activate Virginia
Alliance to Protect the People and Places We Live (APPPL)
AMP Creeks Council
ARTivism Virginia
Berks Gas Truth
Beyond Extreme Energy
Bold Alliance
Breathe Easy Susquehanna County
Center for Sustainable Communities
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Citizen Voices Radio Show
Citizens Climate Lobby – Pottsville
Citizens For Arsenal Accountability
Climate & Clean Energy Working Group, Virginia Grassroots Coalition
Climate Action Alliance of the Valley
Climate Disobedience Center
CommUNITY ARTS-reach
Creative Ceremonies & Beautiful Elopements
Earthfolk
EnoughisEnough, PreserveVA
Environmental Committee of 50 Ways Rockbridge
Extinction Rebellion Richmond
Fairfax Green Party
Fairfax Young Democrats
Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions
Falls of the James Group, Sierra Club
Food & Water Watch

Friends of Buckingham
Gas Free Seneca
Goose Creek Gardens LLC
Greater Prince William Climate Action Network
Green New Deal Virginia
Hampton Roads Green Party
Hampton Roads Poor Peoples Campaign
Howl’n Dog Designs
Independent Green Party of Virginia
Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition
Lewinsville Faith in Action
Loudoun Climate Project
Moral Monday On D.O.G. Street
Mothers Out Front Virginia
Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance
National Parks Conservation Association
New River Valley Green Party
New River Valley Group, Virginia Sierra Club
Norfolk Catholic Worker
NRV Land Air Water Watch
Oil Change International
Our Revolution – Falls Church
Peace Pentagon
Peninsula indivisible
Physicians for Social Responsibility, Pennsylvania
Preserve Floyd
Preserve Giles County
Preserve Montgomery County VA
Preserve Rockbridge
Preserve Salem
Property Rights and Pipeline Center
Protect Our Water Heritage Rights – POWHR
Richmond For All
Richmond Indigenous Society
Richmond Interfaith Climate Justice League
River Guardian Foundation
Roanoke Group, Sierra Club
Savage Acres, LLC
Schuylkill Pipeline Awareness
Silver Lining Farm
Southwest Virginia Poor People’s Campaign
Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development
Sustainable Roanoke
The Ecological Justice Initiative
The Virginia Youth Climate Cooperative
Tidewater DSA
Tidewater Peoples Party
Union Hill Freedmen Family Research Group
United For Clean Energy
United Parents Against Lead & Other Environmental Hazards (UPAL)
VA Network for Democracy and Environmental Rights (VNDER)
Virginia Association for Biological Farming
Virginia Community Rights Network
Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative
Virginia Interfaith Power & Light
Virginia Justice Democrats
Virginia Pipeline Resisters
Virginia Poor People’s Campaign
Virginia River Healers
Virginia Student Environmental Coalition
Virginians Against Pipelines
We of Action, Indivisible
Williamsburg Sunrise Movement Hub
Yoga For Peace, Justice, Harmony With the Planet
Youth Climate Action Team Inc.

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