West Virginia DEP Proposes $265,972 Fine Against MVP, Releases Consent Order for Public Comment

To Comment on the Consent Order:

Mail written comments to WVDEP’s Public Information Office at 601 57th
St., S.E., Charleston, WV., 25304. OR e-mail your comments to
DEP.Comments@wv.gov. (Reference Mountain Valley Pipeline, Consent Order
#8951)


May 14, 2019

CHARLESTON, WV — Today, the West Virginia DEP publicly released their draft Consent Order for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, in which they propose a fine of $265,972 for 26 Notices of Violation issued between April 3 and November 30, 2018. The release of a draft initiates a public comment period that will be open until June 20, 2019. Attached to the draft order were 160 pages of photos showing inspections of violations by DEP staff. Cited violations include failure to implement perimeter controls, failure to prevent sediment-laden water from leaving the site without going through an appropriate device, and causing conditions not allowable in waters of the State.

The draft Consent Order was submitted to MVP for review April 19, 2019 and was signed by Robert Cooper, Senior Vice President, Engineering and Construction for MVP, LLC, and returned to DEP May 6, 2019.

Maury Johnson, POWHR Executive Committee Member and WV Impacted Landowner

“Today’s Consent Order, assessing fines in excess of over $265,000 for damages to WV streams, springs and wetlands though November of 2018 from the Mountain Valley Pipeline is welcome, but it is a pittance to the true cost of the damages citizens have documented in Summers and Monroe Counties alone.  $265 million dollars might be a little closer to the real damages that have occurred across the state on this one unnecessary fracked gas pipeline.

“We commend the environmental inspectors who are trying to do their jobs, given the impossible task before them with not enough resources or staff to do the job. I hope that WV DEP uses this money to hire more environmental inspectors to monitor these pipelines and other projects that imperil the water we all depend upon to sustain life.

“In the meantime, we believe the most prudent course of action for DEP would be to issue a Stop Work Order while the violations mentioned in the Consent Order are cleaned up and the public comment period conducted.”

Ashby Berkley, WV Impacted Landowner

“Again the will and protection of the people of West Virginia is sold out to the out-of-state Gas, Coal, and Mineral Companies. The violation settlement of $265,000 assessed to MVP would not pay for chemotherapy for one child with cancer caused by water polluted by fracking, or for one home destroyed by explosion of a massive gas line.  Why do we pay for environmental protection if it is not enforced for the protection of the people? This is no different from the massive sell out of natural resources and minerals that started in the 1800s. Why are we the poorest state and they are the richest companies?”

Contact:

Maury Johnson, POWHR Executive Committee Member, maurywjohnson@yahoo.com, (304) 832-6085

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Appalmad: Clean Water Advocates Ask Judges to Halt Fracked Gas Pipeline

The following statement was released by Appalachian Mountain Advocates on February 23. You can find the original posting here.

UPDATE: 4th Circuit Sets Response Deadline of 2/28/18 at Noon.

RICHMOND, VA — Today, a coalition asked the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to order Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) to stay out of West Virginia streams until a decision is made on their appeal from last week. The groups made the request today because MVP is ineligible to use the streamlined stream crossing permit offered to it by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

According to a West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) condition, pipelines greater than 36 inches in diameter or that cross certain types of rivers must have an individual certification. Since DEP previously waived its right to issue an individual certification for the MVP, that project can not have such a certification and, therefore, the Army Corps of Engineers cannot allow MVP to use the streamlined Nationwide Permit 12 to trench through West Virginia streams. Without that streamlined permit, MVP must seek an individualized permit to build 591 stream crossings in West Virginia.

The coalition of clean water advocates in the case includes Sierra Club, the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, the Indian Creek Watershed Association, Appalachian Voices, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. The groups are represented by lawyers at Appalachian Mountain Advocates, a non-profit environmental law firm.

In response, Sierra Club Organizing Manager Bill Price released the following statement:

“It’s ironic that DEP’s failure to analyze the MVP’s threats to our water may be the very thing that stops this fracked gas pipeline from being built. If Governor Justice and his DEP won’t protect West Virginia’s water, maybe their incompetence will.”

Indian Creek Watershed Association President Howdy Henritz said:

“West Virginia’s DEP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are in a competition to abdicate responsibility to guarantee our clean water. They need to follow the law, treat each individual stream crossing as unique, and either certify that construction will not degrade our streams and wetlands or deny the permit. Otherwise, the biggest losers are the people and irreplaceable water resources of West Virginia.”

West Virginia Rivers Coalition Executive Director Angie Rosser said:

“This is a case where shortcuts taken by the permitting agencies are coming back to haunt them. When it comes to protecting our waters, sidestepping the law is unacceptable – the court must intervene.”

Related: Coverage in Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Volunteer to Monitor Pipeline Construction

Felled trees in Giles County, VA

Volunteer Pipeline Visual Assessment Program

The Volunteer Pipeline Visual Assessment Program was developed by Trout Unlimited and West Virginia Rivers Coalition to support and train volunteer citizen observers to identify, document and report pollution incidents associated with large-scale pipeline development.

Through a series of free webinars, volunteers will learn about erosion control best management practices used in pipeline development, specific examples of pollution to look for, and how to best document those problems. After the webinar, volunteer observers will be able to report pollution incidents to TU and WV Rivers. To learn more, visit the program webpage.

Sign up for April 28th training in Bent Mountain, Virginia here.

View Recorded Version Here.

Sign up for a pipeline “Neighborhood Watch.”

UPDATE: Virginia DEQ Approves Erosion and Sediment Control Plans for MVP

Volunteers are needed to document tree clearing, erosion and sedimentation problems, stream crossings, and other impacts of Mountain Valley Pipeline construction in our communities. Do not enter construction areas. If you see problematic practices — such as excessive runoff or damage to waterways due to construction activity, unsafe work practices, and ineffective erosion and sediment controls — please take photos and or video, document the date and time, and record the location data. Contact our monitoring coordinators with the form below.

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