In a mixed decision for the residents of Virginia, the Virginia State Water Control Board voted 4-3 today to issue a water quality certification for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, dependent on the completion and review of several final environmental studies. This approval follows the board’s approval of a water quality certification for the Mountain Valley Pipeline on Thursday.
The board voted to delay certification for the pipeline until after the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) reviews and gives final approval to erosion and sediment control plans, stormwater management plans, and studies of sensitive karst terrain. This decision means this issue will be delayed into 2018 and into the administration of Governor-Elect Ralph Northam.
The two massive pipelines would carry gas from fracking well sites in West Virginia into Virginia. These projects continue to move forward despite evidence showing that the pipelines are not needed to meet customer demand and that they would cause widespread harm throughout the region.
Commenting on the decisions, Tina L. Smusz, MD, MSPH, a member of Chesapeake PSR’s Virginia advisory group, said that “these pipelines would carve their way through hundreds of waterways that supply public and private drinking water. They pose an extreme and permanent public health threat to all Virginians, are not needed, and will endanger the region's water for many decades to come.”
“There’s no way they can build the pipelines through these mountainous karst terrains without terrible problems of landslides, sedimentation and erosion," said Chad Oba, also a member of Chesapeake PSR's Virginia advisory group and a local activist in Buckingham County.
Dr. Smusz testified on behalf of Chesapeake PSR against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
More than 80 Chesapeake PSR advocates from Virginia sent letters asking the state to deny water quality certification for the pipelines. For the projects to move forward, the Commonwealth needed to grant water quality certification.
Last week, a coalition of environmental groups filed a petition for review with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to overturn Virginia’s approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). Attorneys with Appalachian Mountain Advocates filed the litigation on behalf of the Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Wild Virginia.
Chesapeake PSR will continue to work with its members and partner organizations to oppose the pipelines. The use of these pipelines will lock in our dependence on fossil fuels for decades to come and make our efforts to promote clean renewable energy, energy conservation and energy efficiency more difficult.
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