Virginia Water Control Board Pipeline Meetings
Trinity Family Life Center, 3601 Dill Road, Richmond, VA 23222
Mountain Valley Pipeline: Dec. 6-7*, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Dec. 11-12*, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
(*Public testimony heard ONLY on Dec. 6th & Dec. 11th)
SECTION 401 CERTIFICATION
Under the Clean Water Act, Virginia has the power to grant or deny water quality certification for the pipelines. The pipelines would cross streams and wetlands all along their routes, potentially impacting all of the above ground and below ground waters in Virginia that are located along the pipeline routes.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) makes recommendations to the State Water Control Board (SWCB) about the certifications and then the State Water Control Board decides whether or not to grant certification. The SWCB is expected to vote at the December 2017 meetings to approve or deny the 401 water quality certification for both proposed pipelines.
These crucial meetings are our last chance to speak out on the record, and make our concerns about these dangerous fracked-gas pipelines heard loud and clear.
PUBLIC MEETINGS & TESTIMONY INFO
- Only citizens who previously submitted a comment (signed Bold’s petition, submitted their own written comment, or testified at the August 2017 public hearing) will each be given 3 minutes each to testify.
- Public comments will be heard only on Dec. 6th (MVP) and Dec. 11th (ACP) — the other day of each meeting will feature DEQ testimony and consideration by the Board.
- Comments at the meetings are limited to responding to the Summary of the July 3, 2017 – August 22, 2017 public comment period that has been provided by the Virginia Dept. of Environmental Quality to the Water Control Board.
- Plan to arrive by 8:00 a.m. on Dec. 6/Dec. 11th: Testimony is first-come, first-served. Get there early to ensure you get a place, and reserve a spot to give testimony.
- Written testimony is not accepted, or testifying on behalf of someone else. You may register to testify yourself, and then if you wish, give up your place in line to a landowner or other advocate. For more details and to sign up, visit AppVoices form here.
- If you plan to submit written materials/evidence along with your oral testimony, please bring 12 copies of each for members of the Board.
- Pipeline Resistance HQ: Partners, allies, and friends opposed to the pipelines will have our own space just across the street from the Trinity Center. Please be sure to stop by to get information, print out your comments, grab some snacks to fuel you throughout the meetings days, and say hello! (We will be in the Fellowship Hall 8:30a-4:30p every day of the Water Control Board meetings!)
- First Union Baptist Church (across the street from the Trinity Center)
3510 Dill Road, Richmond, VA 23222
- First Union Baptist Church (across the street from the Trinity Center)
INTRODUCTION: Good morning/afternoon. My name is ________________, and I signed a petition/submitted a written comment/spoke at the public hearing in August 2017.
Impacts to specific water bodies on your land
[If you discussed specific water bodies or impacts to water on your land in your public comments submitted in July/August]:
- Briefly restate your comments about the impacts the project would have on that particular body of water
- DEQ Response: DEQ’s comment summary dismissed these comments, simply saying that despite their best efforts “there always remains the possibility of certain overlooked features,” and that there is still a process for pre-land disturbing inspection. In addition, DEQ says in its Summary Response to Comments that it “intends to conduct limited site visits to the properties” if necessary.
- This is unacceptable. DEQ is asking this Board to certify a project without providing information on site-specific impacts. The agency is asking this Board to certify this project before inspecting [name of property or water body].
Reliance on Nationwide Permit 12 for in-stream impacts
- The Draft Certification says that “The Department’s 401 Water Quality Certification for the Corps’ Nationwide Permit 12 issued April 7, 2017 and this additional Certification …together constitute the Commonwealth of Virginia’s 401 Certification for the Project.”
- We asked DEQ not to rely on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Nationwide Permit 12 because it is inherently speculative and general, and it was only written as a blanket permit to cover projects with minimal impacts. The [Mountain Valley/Atlantic Coast] Pipeline is one of the largest pipelines ever to be proposed in Virginia and is anticipated to have significant impacts to Virginia’s waters. This project should require an individual permit based on project-specific analysis
- DEQ Response: In its Summary DEQ responded that (1) “the NWP 12 as currently certified and conditioned in Virginia is protective of the Commonwealth’s water quality standards for the physical crossings of wetlands and streams,” and (2) that “the Corps will determine if the Project qualifies for a nationwide or regional permit or whether an individual permit must be drafted.”
- This is unacceptable. This response still fails to acknowledge that NWP 12 is not designed to cover large infrastructure like the [Mountain Valley/Atlantic Coast] Pipeline. It also relies on a decision that the Corps will make at some future date. How can the Board certify this pipeline without project-specific analysis of impacts to state waters and without even knowing if the Corps will require an individual permit?
Erosion & Sediment Control and Stormwater Management
- In our comments we asked DEQ not to separate the Board’s review of Erosion & Sediment Control plans and Stormwater Management plans from this water quality certification because those two programs will play such a large role in determining impacts to state waters
- DEQ Response: DEQ responded that it “acknowledges that its review and approval of project-specific stormwater management and erosion and sediment control plans is a critical component of assuring protection of water quality. But this is separate and apart from the scope of this proposed 401 Certification.”
- This is unacceptable. DEQ has ignored our concern. It is asking this Board to certify today that there is reasonable assurance the pipeline will not violate state water quality standards while failing to include information about water quality that DEQ admits is a critical component!
Individual Analysis of Stream & Wetland Crossings
- We asked DEQ to analyze each individual stream and wetland crossing – to gather pertinent data at specific sites so that impacts to water quality could be better understood before this Board makes a decision
- DEQ Response: DEQ said it “has determined that compliance with the Annual Standards and Specifications approval generally is sufficient to satisfy Tier 2 and Tier 3 antidegradation requirements because the controls will not result in a lowering of water quality, making individualized Tier 2 or Tier 3 review unnecessary.”
- This is unacceptable. The Annual Standards and Specifications were written by [MVP/ACP]. It is another list of conditions that DEQ refers to as “self-regulating” for industry. While this program may not require individualized project analysis, how can this Board certify that state water quality standards will not be violated without looking at data that are specific to the [Mountain Valley/Atlantic Coast] Pipeline?
Karst Geology and Dye Tracing Studies
- The Draft Certification proposed as a condition that karst dye tracing evaluation be completed before any land-disturbing activities occur. In our comments we requested that the draft certification be withdrawn until karst dye tracing studies were completed.
- DEQ Response: DEQ responded that it is okay to certify these projects first, saying “it is appropriate for a 401 certification to contain a condition requiring future monitoring and studies to determine potential impacts. Additional conditions or requirements can be imposed once those results are obtained.”
- Problem: Again, this would put the Board in position of making a decision without information that is highly relevant to whether or not this project is likely to violate state water quality standards
- DEQ Response: Even worse, DEQ has modified the draft certification and no longer even requires a dye tracing in karst geology as a condition! All DEQ is requiring in the newest draft is that the project developer submit a Supplemental Karst Evaluation Plan to be reviewed by DEQ
- This is unacceptable. Once again, DEQ is asking this Board to certify a project without providing studies or data relevant to the anticipated impacts of digging and blasting a trench to lay a 42-inch steel pipe across thousands of waterbodies in the Commonwealth!
I sincerely appreciate the time each Board member is committing to the protection of our water. Please do not rush this decision or come to a conclusion without considering all relevant information. Thank you.