VA Water Control Board Narrowly Grants ACP Certification

by Duane Nichols on December 13, 2017

VA Water Board gives approval to MVP & ACP


Over vigorous opposition from water experts and citizens, Virginia water board approves conditional permit for Atlantic Coast Pipeline, voting 4 to 3

CONTACTS: Cat McCue, Director of Communications,
and Peter Anderson, Virginia Program Manager,

The Virginia State Water Control Board today approved a heavily amended certification for the proposed fracked-gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline that is conditional on getting outstanding information from state regulators about the project’s impacts to water quality. The board voted 4-3 for the certification after a day of vigorous vocal opposition from citizens who have been fighting the pipeline for years. By some accounts, it was the most active, controversial water board meeting in decades.

Yesterday, some 100 people spoke against the project – mostly landowners and experts opposed to the pipeline based on its unprecedented impacts on streams, rivers, drinking water supplies, wetlands and groundwater in the commonwealth. In addition, the state received some 15,000 comments from citizens this summer, overwhelmingly in opposition to the pipeline.

The certificate approved today will apparently not be effective until the Department of Environmental Quality has provided all outstanding information and the board determines the project would not violate clean water standards. The move follows the board’s vote last week approving the equally controversial fracked-gas Mountain Valley Pipeline, but without the conditional approval.

Appalachian Voices along with other organizations and countless community groups and citizens along the routes of the proposed pipelines have been fighting the controversial projects since they were announced in 2014. Thousands have voiced their opposition to both these pipelines based on evidence that they cannot be built without violating the federal Clean Water Act and the board’s obligation under Virginia law. Appalachian Voices and many others highlighted repeatedly that DEQ failed to provide the board with critical information, including erosion and stormwater control plans and analysis of individual water crossings. This information is fundamental for the board to make a rational decision about the projects’ impacts to our waters.

Peter Anderson, Virginia Program Manager of Appalachian Voices, a leading nonprofit advocate for healthy communities and just economies in Appalachia:

“We are somewhat encouraged by the depth and scope of the board’s discussion about several critical issues today and their apparent recognition of the thousands of citizen voices they’ve heard from over the years, but we are disappointed they did not deny this deficient certification and remand it back to the Department of Environmental Quality for a thorough analysis.

“We are also very disappointed the board rejected a formal petition it received yesterday to reconsider its approval of the equally deficient Mountain Valley Pipeline last week.

“We applaud the efforts of several board members who expressed concern that the draft ACP certification would not provide reasonable assurance, as required by law, that water quality would be protected. We particularly commend members Roberta Kellam, Nissa Dean and Robert Wayland who cast the three dissenting votes.

“We are confident the record demonstrates construction of the pipelines would violate the law. On Friday, we filed a legal challenge to the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and we are considering all options for this project as well. If either pipeline company breaks ground, citizens along the routes are prepared to watchdog every action, along every mile, every day of construction and afterwards, and compel agencies to act when violations inevitably occur.”


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Glen Besa December 14, 2017 at 12:37 am

What happened in Richmond and what it may mean for the ACP and MVP resistance

From: Glen Besa, VA Sierra Club
Date: December 12, 2017

Hi folks,

Here is my take on what happened today and what it means for the ACP and MVP.

An amendment to the 401 Certification for the ACP was approved 4-3 today with Roberta Kellam. Nissa Kent and Robert Wayland voting against it because they supported a stronger action more toward deferral or rejection.

The amendment would appear to delay effective date of the certificate several months until VA-DEQ has reviewed and given final approval to the Karst Plan, Annual Standards and Specifications, the Erosion and Sediment Control Plan and the Stormwater Management Plan (the latter added by another amendment). Otherwise, the 401 certification should look much like the MVP certificate issued last Thursday.

We should see the final 401 certificate posted on line on DEQ’s home page tomorrow –

It is important to note the amendment provides that while DEQ is to report to the SWCB on the these plans, the final sentence says the “Board may consider further actions ….”. This probably means it will only come back before the board if we have 4 votes to bring it back — we only had 3 votes today. Not good news.

The determination of the adequacy of these plans falls to DEQ which may have a new director if Northam elects to replace David Paylor. In any case, the ball for the ACP will be in the Northam Administration court.

Our attorneys are sorting this out and so are Dominion’s attorneys. We certainly don’t want to discuss litigation strategy on an open listserv, but I suspect we will be appealing the ACP decision as well although the amendment may complicate the appeal. That is up to our attorneys to sort out. And Dominion might appeal as well.

For those of you concerned with the MVP, note that efforts were made today to get the Board to reconsider and reverse its approval of the 401 certification for the MVP but they were not successful. While the MVP certificate lacks the added language of the ACP certificate noted above, that is not necessarily a worse outcome than what happened today.

Environmental groups have already filed suit against the MVP 401 certification, and we have a solid record because of all the great testimony from the hearings on which to challenge the MVP 401 certification. Other than that we should not be discussing litigation strategy on email.

Bottom line, the SWCB unfortunately approved both the MVP and ACP and the fight goes on in the courts and in the streets. Grassroots pressure on the Northam Administration will be critical because decisions related to both the ACP and the MVP will clearly be in front of VA-DEQ in the Northam Administration.

Keep the faith and keep fighting!

Glen Besa, VA Sierra Club
Richmond, VA


Irene Leech December 18, 2017 at 7:10 pm

Mt. Rush Community Served Eminent Domain Citations Today by A.C.P.

Hi! My mother just called to tell me that we were served today. She has not read the documents – said about 2 inches worth. A private server who lives in Fluvanna brought them. Had to deliver one to Andersonville, one to Yogaville and one other – so 4 that we know of in Buckingham County today. Must respond in 21 days. Irene

P.S. Today was my father’s birthday.

Note: Mt. Rush is an unincorporated community in Buckingham County, Virginia. It is located at the east endpoint of State Route 24 at Highway 60. Its elevation is 509 feet. The geographic center of Virginia is just a few miles south of the community.


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