US Army Corps Sells Out Doddridge Floodplain Ordinance

by S. Tom Bond on May 19, 2014

Mark West Site in Doddridge County

Army Corps of Engineers Sells Out Doddridge County’s Floodplain Ordinance

Transcribed from the West Union Herald Record, May 16, 2014

In September 2011, the Doddridge County floodplain maps were changed by FEMA, and the County Commission was ordered by the FEMA representative to approve the floodplain ordinance FEMA had provided them.  This Ordinance, written by FEMA employees, was later found unconstitutional after the county had been taken to court while trying to enforce it.

The cost of the Ordinance having to be re-written was paid for by county tax dollars, and now affects every landowner’s use of their property.  For example, even if property is not next to a stream, but expenditures of more than $1000 are planned, there is a requirement to file a floodplain application for approval by the county.  The objective of the revised Floodplain Ordinance was to protect landowners living next to streams and to protect our streams and waterways themselves.

Other agencies such as the WV Department of Environmental Protection and the US Army Corps of Engineers also regulate the same floodplain covered in the Doddridge County Floodplain Ordinance.

On May 15, 2014 the Department of the Army (Corps of Engineers- USACE) issued a permit to MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources LLC (permit number 2011-753-OHR – Buckeye Creek).  This permit indicates the USACE sold the right to use the floodplain and to fill in wetlands areas to MarkWest for over two million dollars.

Specifically, MarkWest purchased the right  from the USA to use the floodplain and fill the wetlands for $1,186,757.91 for the purchase of 1,483.42 stream credits; and $179,280 for purchase of open water credits, and $745,200 to purchase 12.42 acres of wetland credits.

The authorization has six general conditions which include: the time limit of until December 31, 2019; keeping the project current; rules in transferring rights of the permit; protection of historical sites; compliance in water quality certifications; and the right to inspect.

Other “Special Conditions” included in this permit were: if the project plans change, a Compensatory Mitigation Plan is required; a Section 401 Permit is required from the WV Dept. of Environmental Protection; payments will be submitted to the West Virginia In-Lieu of Fees Program; proper care will be taken to protect the Indiana Bat (a protected species); archeological and historic considerations and the “Special Conditions” portion of this permit from the USACE requires that a Doddridge County Floodplain Permit be acquired.

It further states the permit absolves the United States Government from all possible future claims for damages stemming from their approval of the permit. In effect, for $2,111,238.91, the USACE has issued a permit to MarkWest to fill in floodplain and wetland areas allowing the potential for the possible destruction of Buckeye Run and Middle Island Creek, the watershed that provides water for the town of West Union and many other small towns downstream.

>>>>>>>>> Comments by S. T.  Bond

Nice to know history and archeology are being considered. Looking at previous construction on the site, I’d say about half of the area is lost now.

You have to wonder where figures like $800 per stream credit and wetland credit of $60,000 an acre come from.  There is no open market for comparison.  $6000 an acre would buy a very good building lot in Doddridge county.  And just what is a “stream credit?”  Is it based on area? quality? volume flow?  It all sounds like the way corporations “negotiate” penalties, unlike individual law breakers, who have a sentence imposed on them.  Obviously the Corps has overbearing weight, but how much weight does a large energy corporation have when it goes head-to-head with them, like two bulls?  Wonder where the  ”mitigating wetland” that compensates for damages will be placed?  Out in the boonies?

What about “It further states the permit absolves the United States Government from all possible future claims for damages stemming from their approval of the permit.”   Presumably people below the artifact being constructed by MarkWest will still be covered by flood insurance.  If so the Corps has managed to shift the cost from itself (just like a good corporation) and imposed it on FEMA.  Smooth move! Now suppose someone is killed as a result of the project?  Admittedly hard to prove, but does the family absorb the loss without chance to sue?  It certainly avoids a lot of messy work for Corps lawyers!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Doddridge County Watershed Association May 20, 2014 at 9:40 am

The EPA is continually educating the public that both headwater streams and wetlands trap floodwaters and the engineers contracted by Mark West never even mentioned this in their “studies”. The studies given to the flood plain manager, were only related to the displacement of flood plain space by fill, and called “temporary”.

When Mark West applied to the WVDEP 401 certifiication program for this, they (Mark West) placed their notice in the Clarksburg newspaper (which is acceptable to the DEP because they say they serve our community even though the Clarksburg newspaper is not in our County) – rather than the local paper that would serve Doddridge county.

Mark West puts lots of notices in the West Union Herald, yet this one, for some reason was placed in an outside county newspaper.


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