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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
CHARLESTON, WV -- Today, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) waived its opportunity to review the water quality impacts of the fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline. Under section 401 of the Clean Water Act, states must certify that proposed pipelines will not violate state water quality standards before construction can begin. DEP has the responsibility to determine whether or not to issue that certification for West Virginia, but announced today they are abdicating that responsibility.
DEP previously certified the MVP, but in response to a lawsuit brought by Appalachian Mountain Advocates on behalf of a coalition of environmental groups, a federal court set aside that certification and allowed DEP to start over. That coalition is now exploring legal strategies in response to today’s news.
In response, Sierra Club West Virginia Chapter Gas Committee Chair Justin Raines issued this statement:
"Instead of protecting West Virginia’s water, DEP has sold us down the river. They had one job to do and they failed to do it, leaving our water in the hands of the federal government and out-of-state corporate polluters who are more interested in making money than protecting West Virginians. If we can’t trust our own state to protect our water, health and tourism, who can we trust to do it? Governor Justice and his DEP have let us all down by abandoning the responsibilities we trusted them with."
Derek Teaney, Senior Attorney at Appalachian Mountain Advocates, issued this statement:
“This is an outrageous and unprecedented dereliction of duty by DEP. After assuring a federal court that it was committed to reconsidering whether the MVP would degrade the hundreds of streams that it would impact, DEP has thrown up its hands and admitted that it is not up to the task of protecting West Virginia’s environment. This action suggests that DEP does not believe in the laws--including the antidegradation policy--that it is charged with enforcing. It also makes you wonder whether DEP intends to give the Atlantic Coast Pipeline--the other ill-conceived pipeline project it is currently reviewing--the same free pass it has just given to MVP.”
Judy Azulay, Indian Creek Watershed Association President, issued this statement:
“It’s incomprehensible that DEP is not using the authority granted to it by the West Virginia legislature to protect our water. Instead of issuing enforceable conditions for the 401 permit, DEP allows MVP to pen its own free pass to pollute. Instead of overseeing this unprecedented construction project, DEP turns a blind eye to the evidence documented in annotated maps and reports submitted by Indian Creek and other organizations and West Virginians identifying specific areas where the MVP would cause unacceptable degradation of our water. How can our Governor and his appointees allow DEP to abandon its mission and turn its back on the people and our natural resources?”
Angie Rosser, Executive Director, West Virginia Rivers Coalition said:
“DEP is a taxpayer-supported agency whose job is to protect public health and the environment. But when it came to one of the biggest projects DEP needed to review to protect water quality, the agency quit on the citizens of the state. We often hear from our political leaders that we don’t need federal agencies to regulate, that the state can handle it. But waiving their authority to do so is no way to handle it. It appears that political favor to industry has won the day over the agency’s responsibility to do everything in its power to protect the public’s right to clean water.”
Anne Havemann, General Counsel, Chesapeake Climate Action Network said:
"Shame on WVDEP Director Austin Caperton and Governor Jim Justice. After directing agency staff to spend over a year’s worth of time, effort, and taxpayer money to look at the impacts to waterways from the massive Mountain Valley Pipeline, they’ve passed the buck to the federal government knowing full well that the pipeline won’t get the thorough review such a massive project deserves. West Virginia’s decision to waive its right to protect hundreds of streams and rivers from MVP is a complete abdication of its duty and a irreparable breach of the public’s trust.
Peter Anderson, Virginia Program Manager, Appalachian Voices said:
“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission clearly stated in its Mountain Valley Pipeline Order that construction may not commence without a water quality certification from each state and that states may impose additional conditions to protect water quality. By waiving its opportunity to do that, the WVDEP has utterly failed to fulfill its mission to preserve, protect, and enhance the state’s watersheds for the benefit and safety of all its citizens. West Virginians deserve better, and they certainly deserve clean water every bit as much as citizens of other states.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Community and Conservation Groups Condemn FERC’s Review of Proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline
The core issue of whether the massive project is needed to meet electricity demand, and whether other alternatives including energy efficiency, solar and wind would be more environmentally responsible sources;
A complete analysis of the cumulative, life-cycle climate pollution that would result from the pipeline;
Any accounting of other environmental and human health damage from the increased gas fracking in West Virginia that would supply the pipeline; and
Thorough analysis of damage to water quality and natural resources throughout the pipeline route.
About 67% of the MVP route would cross areas susceptible to landslides.
The pipeline would cross about 51 miles of karst terrain.
Construction would disturb about 4,189 acres of soils that are classified as potential for severe water erosion.
Construction would disturb about 2,353 acres of prime farmland or farmland of statewide importance.
The pipeline would result in 986 waterbody crossings; 33 are classified as fisheries of special concern.
The MVP would cross about 245 miles of forest; in Virginia, it would impact about 938 acres of contiguous interior forest during construction classified as “high” to “outstanding” quality.
In West Virginia, the pipeline would result in permanent impacts on about 865 acres of core forest areas which are significant wildlife habitat.
The 50-foot wide operational easement would represent a permanent impact on forests.
FERC identified 22 federally listed threatened, endangered, candidate, or special concern species potentially in vicinity of the MVP and the Equitrans projects, and 20 state-listed or special concern species.
MVP identified 117 residences within 50 feet of its proposed construction right-of-way.
Construction would require use of 365 roadways.
A still incomplete survey of the route shows the pipeline could potentially affect 166 new archaeological sites and 94 new architectural sites, in addition to crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway Historic District, North Fork Valley Rural Historic District, and Greater Newport Rural Historic District, which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Appalachian Mountain Advocates
- Buckhannon River Watershed Association
- Doddridge County Watershed Association
- Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition
- Frack Check WV
- FrackTracker Alliance
- Food & Water Watch
- Friends of the Cheat
- Friends of Deckers Creek
- Greenbrier River Watershed Association
- Indian Creek Watershed Association
- Interfaith Power & Light
- Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance
- Occupy the Hollers
- Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC)
- Pipeline Safety Trust
- Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights (POWHR)
- Preserve Greenbrier County
- Preserve Monroe (+Facebook)
- Save Monroe
- Summers County Residents Against the Pipeline (SCRAP)
- Stop the Frack Attack
- US Department of Transportation (DOT) Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
- US DOT PHMSA Office of Pipeline Safety
- US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
- WV Citizen Action Group
- WV Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
- WV Division of Natural Resources (DNR)
- WV Environmental Council
- WV Geological & Economic Survey
- WV Highlands Conservancy
- WV Host Farms Program
- WV Public Service Commission (PSC) Gas Pipeline Safety Division
- WV Rivers Coalition
- WV Surface Owners' Rights Organization
- WV Wilderness Coalition