September 14th, 2017
FROM: Concerned citizens opposed to fracked gas pipelines in Virginia
TO: The Honorable Terry McAuliffe, Governor, Commonwealth of Virginia
David Paylor, Director, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Dear Governor McAuliffe and Director Paylor,
We are concerned citizens residing in southwest Virginia. We know that you, Governor McAuliffe, have said that you oppose fracking in Virginia, which is why we are deeply concerned that you support the massive Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). This disastrous project would trigger extensive fracking in West Virginia while transporting this harmful gas through the mountains of our region, endangering everything from drinking water to pristine vistas.
The construction of the approximately 300-mile MVP across many mountains with steep slopes and karst valleys of our region would, according to four independent hyrdogeologists ((FERC accession number 20170808-5015(32327939)), almost certainly cause long term and irreparable harm to our mountain streams, water sheds and karst aquifers, which in many locations are the primary or sole source of water for domestic and agriculture use. It would also dramatically harm iconic viewscapes along the Appalachian Trail, seize land from multi-generation farmers and other landowners, and contribute enormously to climate impacts that are a threat to our region, including the rising risk of wildfires.
Therefore, as concerned Virginians we call on you, Governor and Director Paylor, to require “site specific” reviews of the possible compound and cumulative effects (as described in scientific reports) of pipelines on the quantity, flow and quality of waters in our region.
Governor McAuliffe, you have the responsibility under the Clean Water Act to require pipeline companies to prove that their projects do not harm water quality. Governor and the Director you should hit the “pause button” now and require detailed reviews based on DEQ staff investigation, complete, accurate site-specific reports from MVP, independent scientists and local experts (see reports critiquing the MVP submitted to FERC). We are confident that once proper reviews of water impacts are conducted, that you will almost certainly conclude that “401” certification under the Clean Water Act should be rejected for these pipelines.
It is no secret that both the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines would wreck devastating impacts across our state. Some of these impacts include:
- Causing catastrophic, long term damage to our water by tunneling through vulnerable karst areas, crossing thousands of creeks, rivers, wetlands, and other water bodies, despoiling their habitat and threatening rare and endangered species (e.g., the Giles Candy Darter and the Roanoke Log Perch).
- Destruction of nearly 38 miles of mountain ridgetops in West Virginia and Virginia by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline alone,
- Dramatic alteration of viewscapes, including the iconic Appalachian Trail, by the Mountain Valley Pipeline,
- Increased emissions across the state equivalent to building 45 new coal-fired power plants,
- Seizure of private property through eminent domain across 19 Virginia Counties.
There is no demonstrated demand for these pipelines. The MVP is planned mainly for profits in the spot market and the export of LNG. Pipeline companies will reap extraordinary gains while ratepayers, landowners and communities across Virginia bear most of the costs. The wake of destruction of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, suggests Virginians are more vulnerable than ever to the impacts of climate change including sea level rise and larger Atlantic storms.
Government leaders fail their publics when they refuse to recognize the connection between permitting fracked gas pipelines and catastrophic climate change.
Governor and Director Paylor, protect your legacies. Governor, if you choose to approve the Mountain Valley Pipeline, your record of opposition to fracking and support of the Paris Climate Agreement will be tarnished. Irreparable damage will be done to the region’s aquifers, mountain streams and wetlands from massive erosion and sedimentation accompanying construction. The natural iconic beauty of our region will be despoiled and multi-generation landowners will be put at risk of losing their heritage. We sincerely hope that you will choose not to sacrifice all this for pipelines built for solely for corporate profit.
Citizens against the Mountain Valley Pipeline,
Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights (POWHR)