WV-DEP Waives 401 Certification for MVP Pipeline (Stream Crossing Damages)

by Duane Nichols on November 15, 2017

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection adjusts Mountain Valley Pipeline permits

From an Article by Charles Young, Clarksburg Telegram, November 1, 2017

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has lifted the suspension of the state stormwater permit for EQT’s Mountain Valley Pipeline project, according to Cabinet Secretary Austin Caperton.

The stormwater permit was suspended in September to allow the state agency to properly respond to all public comments received.

The agency has also chosen to waive the individual 401 certification of the federal permits for the pipeline project. The Army Corps of Engineers recently reissued, with provisions that are specific to West Virginia, the nationwide 12 permit which is used for stream crossings.

These new conditions, when combined with specific requirements that are included in the state stormwater permit, will allow for better enforcement capabilities and enhanced protection of the state’s waters, Caperton said.

“This is a case where the public review and comment system worked especially well,” Caperton said. “This summer, after months of diligent work, WVDEP put forth for public review and comment a draft certification and permit for the MVP pipeline. As a result of some of the issues that were included in those public comments, our agency developed a revised strategy that will better utilize the state stormwater permit to provide significantly stronger safeguards for the waters of West Virginia.”

The Mountain Valley Pipeline, a project of EQT and several other partners, will span more than 300 miles from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia. The pipeline will be used to supply natural gas from Marcellus and Utica Shale production to markets in the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic regions.

According to information on the project’s website, the pipeline will pass through 11 West Virginia counties.

Natalie Cox, communications director for EQT, said the DEP decision reinforces West Virginia’s commitment to protecting its waterbodies.

“Reinstatement of the stormwater permit requires enhanced management best practices and increases the degree of assurance that MVP construction activities will be conducted in a manner that will preserve and protect waterbodies along the route,” she said.

The issuance of the permit will not impact the pipeline’s estimated completion date, Cox said.

“The MVP project team is committed to complying with the permit, and this decision by the WVDEP will not impact MVP’s currently filed timeline, which targets an in-service for late 2018,” she said.

Environmental advocacy groups around the state voiced their displeasure with the DEP’s decision.

“Instead of protecting West Virginia’s water, DEP has sold us down the river,” said Justin Raines, chair of the Sierra Club West Virginia Chapter’s gas committee. “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?”

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