Draft Water-Related Challenges to WV Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) MVP Pipeline Decisions

Background:

WVDEP has the responsibility and authority to ensure the quality of the waters of West Virginia. Three authorizations are required for the MVP pipeline in West Virginia: 1) the 401 Water Quality Certification, 2) the Oil and Gas Construction Stormwater Permit and 3) the WV Natural Streams Preservation Act Permit for crossing the Greenbrier River.

As a watershed association committed to the protection of Monroe County’s water, ICWA submitted several comments during the WVDEP’s Public Comment period that documented significant risks to water resources in the county and along the route. ICWA has also joined with other environmental organizations and affected landowners to challenge the permits that WVDEP has issued.

The WVDEP could prevent the Mountain Valley Pipeline from being built by not issuing key permits that protect West Virginia water. WVDEP has the responsibility and authority to ensure the quality of the waters of West Virginia. The federal courts have upheld the NY Department of Environmental Conservation decision to stop the Constitution 42” interstate gas pipelines from being built because of the risk of harming their state’s water. We need our WVDEP to do the same.


Despite substantive evidence provided by ICWA, as well as other organizations, professional experts and individuals, the WVDEP decided in favor of MVP on all three permit applications required by MVP. ICWA has joined with other environmental organizations and affected landowners to challenge the three permits that WVDEP has issued:

1. 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC-16-0005) requires that WV ensure that federal agencies will not issue permits or licenses that violate the water quality standards of a state. Read more . . .

LATEST NEWS: On November 1, 2017, waived its authority to regulate 401 water quality standards for the MVP project.

2. Oil and Gas Construction Stormwater General Permit (WVR310667) requires that WVDEP prevent stormwater runoff from increasing sedimentation and polluting aquatic habitats. Read more . .

LATEST NEWS: On November 1, 2017, WVDEP reissued its suspended MVP stormwater permit.

3. WV Natural Streams Preservation Act Permit for crossing the Greenbrier River (NSP-17-0001) which is the longest free-flowing river east of the Mississippi—“an enduring resource of free-flowing streams possessing outstanding scenic, recreational, geological, fish and wildlife, botanical, historical, archeological or other scientific or cultural values.” Read more . . . 

LATEST NEWS: A hearing before the the WV Environmental Quality Board is scheduled.


Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act requires that WV ensure that federal agencies will not issue permits or licenses that violate the water quality standards of a state through a process known as 401 water quality certification.


Oil and Gas Construction Stormwater General Permit (WVR310667). The WVDEP created this permit “to regulate the discharge of stormwater runoff associated with oil and gas related construction activities,” which includes transmission pipelines and facilities.

According to the WVDEP site: “Stormwater runoff from construction activities can have a significant impact on water quality. As stormwater flows over a construction site, it picks up pollutants like sediment, debris and chemicals. Polluted stormwater runoff can harm or kill fish and other wildlife. Sedimentation can destroy aquatic habitat and high volumes of runoff can cause stream bank erosion.”

  • On July 14, 2017, WVDEP issued a Stormwater Permit to MVP. During the comment period that preceded the granting of the permit, ICWA submitted 5 detailed and extensive comments and WV Rivers Coalition submitted a very extensive comment signed by 27 organizations. When DEP issued the permit they were required respond to all comments, deliver the response to everyone who commented, and inform everyone who commented that they have 30 days to appeal the permit. However, ICWA and the WV Rivers Coalition were never notified that the permit was issued, nor did DEP respond to their comments.
  • On August 17, WV Rivers and ICWA initiated an inquiry with WVDEP about what happened to comments we had submitted, and why our groups (and potentially many others) had not received notice of the permit.
  • On August 23, 2017, WVDEP informed us that although comments by ICWA and the WV Rivers Coalition were filed correctly and on time, the comments were not considered because they failed to reach the DEP
  • On September 8, 2017, WVDEP suspended the Stormwater permit “to allow for proper consideration and response to all comments received,” according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
  • LATEST NEWS: On November 1, 2017, WVDEP reissued its suspended stormwater permit.

WV Natural Streams Preservation Act Permit for crossing the Greenbrier River (NSP-17-0001). The Greenbrier River—recognized as the longest free-flowing river east of the Mississippi—is protected by the WV Natural Streams Preservation Act as “an enduring resource of free-flowing streams possessing outstanding scenic, recreational, geological, fish and wildlife, botanical, historical, archeological or other scientific or cultural values” (§22-13-2).

  • On July 21, 2017, WVDEP granted a permit to MVP to cross the Greenbrier River at Pence Springs.
  • On August 18, 2017, with the Greenbrier River Watershed Association as lead appellant, ICWA became party to an appeal filed with the West Virginia Environmental Quality Board. The appeal asserts that, “Without effective limits on sedimentation and the resulting turbidity, the permit as issued is not protective of water quality standards and violates the West Virginia Pollution Control Act as well as the federal Clean Water Act.” Counsel for the appellants are Anna Ziegler and Elise Keaton, Ziegler & Ziegler, LC in Hinton, WV; and Kevin Thompson and David Barney, Thompson Barney Law Firm in Charleston, WV.
  • LATEST NEWS: A hearing before the the WV Environmental Quality Board is scheduled.

 


 

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