Co-Chair Preserve Craig, Inc
Here’s an update on the numerous regulatory and legal barriers blocking Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) from building its proposed massive high-pressure gas pipeline through Craig County, across the Appalachian Trail, and over the steep terrain of our National Forest.
It is still facing appeals before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and initial approvals from the US Forest Service (FS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the VA Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The WV Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) just made a cowardly announcement that it would withdraw from the review process and not protect its waters.
1. Craig County Board of Supervisors voted last week to join with Roanoke County and request a rehearing of the FERC’s conditional permit decision on October 13. The controversial closed-door 2 to 1 vote by the FERC included an essential dissenting opinion by former Chair and Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, which further study of need as well as impacts on the Appalachian environment should be required. The deadline for intervenors to file for a rehearing is this Monday, November 13. Preserve Craig is working with its attorney, Water & Power Law Group to file.
2. MVP filed suit in October against 500 landowners in two federal courts, claiming eminent domain rights, 300 in Roanoke and 200 in Charleston, West Virginia. MVP claims that the FERC has given them the authority to take the property for their private fracked gas pipeline.
3. Two lawsuits to block MVP from an eminent domain are now in federal court and moving forward, with the first motions of the Gentry-Locke case heard in Roanoke last Friday. The Bold Alliance lawsuit has been filed in D.C. federal court. Both challenge the FERC’s authority to authorize eminent domain for private gain for MVP. The Alliance case also contests the Atlantic Coast Pipeline as a private project.
4. The Virginia State Water Control Board will meet December 6 and 7 to consider issuing 401 Water Quality Permits to MVP. Preserve Craig’s attorney submitted a detailed letter to the Board on why MVP does not qualify for this permit. Citizens can testify at the hearings. Preserve Craig also filed its petition to the Board and DEQ on why it must reject the permit and MVP’s inadequate Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) and Stormwater Management (SWM) plans.
5. Under court order, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) withdrew its earlier 401 Water Quality Permits in October, because of inadequate review. This week the DEP found another way to avoid its responsibility to protect WV waters. It just announced that it would waive its authority and allow Army Corps of Engineers national permits to apply and authorize the MVP.
6. The US Forest Service (FS) has not finalized plans to change the Jefferson Forest Management Plan to allow MVP to build on steep slopes, damage viewsheds and the Appalachian Trail, permanently erode soil, pollute public waters, remove old growth timber, and build in roadless areas. These changes would be required before the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) could 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. Preserve Craig is preparing legal action in this matter if the FS and BLM issue such a permit.
7. Preserve Craig has collected over $10,000 of its initial $30,000 goal for the Forest Service legal fund to oppose MVP. Tax-deductible donations to Preserve Craig are needed now.
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 contributions are welcome online at www.preservecraig.org or by mail to Preserve Craig, Inc., PO Box 730, New Castle, VA. 24127. Email: [email protected].