Co-chair Preserve Craig, Inc
Last Thursday, September 7, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) cancelled the certification they had previously issued for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) to cross over 600 streams and rivers. In the face of a federal lawsuit the state was likely to lose, West Virginia officials said that this action would allow them to reevaluate MVP’s application to determine compliance with the federal Clean Water Act.
This is the same certification that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) must issue before MVP would be allowed to build in West Virginia. Preserve Craig and the Craig County Board of Supervisors submitted extensive comments and scientific documentation that MVP cannot be built without seriously damaging Virginia water quality and violated the Clean Water Act. The DEQ is now considering its position and the Virginia Water Control Board was slated to vote on the certification but this decision by West Virginia may cause reconsideration. That comment period about the proposed 401 Water Quality permits has closed, after overwhelming the agency with over 20,000 submissions documenting that Virginia waters would be permanently damaged by MVP. Other states have recently rejected less egregious pipeline projects and the Federal courts have backed the State’s rights to do so. These comments must be reviewed and addressed before DEQ can formally make a recommendation to the Water Board.
The VA DEQ is now currently accepting “public input” until October 22 about technical and engineering requirements for Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) and Stormwater Management (SWM) that could be required for construction and operation of MVP. So, send in your comments.
On other fronts, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will meet on September 20, 2017, now that there is a quorum. They could vote on the MVP application at that meeting, but this is not guaranteed. FERC staff issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on June 23, 2017, recommending approval of MVP, despite massive data gaps and errors and their own conclusions that there would be significant impacts. Comments will continue to be accepted on the FERC website until the Commission votes.
The US Forest Service (FS) is reviewing plans to modify its Jefferson Forest Management Plan, which would be required authorizing MVP to build on steep slopes, permanently erode soil, pollute public waters, remove old growth timber and build in roadless areas. These changes would then allow the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to issue permits to cross public lands. There has been no public comment period or public meetings on these proposed changes. This would reverse the 2002 Record of Decision that this area is not appropriate for a utility corridor, a decision that Craig County has relied upon for 15 years in developing its economy and tourism plans.
The national organization, Bold Alliance, filed a lawsuit in D.C. federal court this week challenging the FERC’s authority to authorize eminent domain for private gain for MVP and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). This parallels a similar suit filed last month in Federal Court in Roanoke on behalf of another group of affected landowners along the MVP route, by the Gentry Locke law firm.
Preserve Craig is pressing the question as to why the MVP applications are even being considered, given that it is not a public utility formed for public good and its managing partner, EQT, has repeatedly pled guilty to environmental crimes and intentionally polluting water supplies. Recently, a lawsuit again EQT, owner of MVP, was recently certified to go forward regarding their fraudulent treatment of landowners.
Preserve Craig is now focusing on specific legal efforts to protect our environment and stop the MVP. Funds are needed to oppose MVP and requests for donations to Preserve Craig are ongoing.
Over two years of work to date – over 3700 pages submitted on behalf of our community to defend Craig County, representing over $370,000 in volunteer efforts. Over $70,000 in actual tax-deductible donations have been collected and used for educational and environmental protection efforts.
Preserve Craig, Inc. is a 501C3 nonprofit volunteer public charity formed in 1991 using volunteers and donations to protect our natural, historical, and cultural resources. Tax-deductible donations are welcomed online at www.preservecraig.org or by mail to: Preserve Craig, Inc., PO Box 730, New Castle, VA. 24127. Phone: 540-309-9560. Email: [email protected]