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Virginia Regulatory Board Blames Residents for Agency Failings

June 27, 2019

RICHMOND, VA — In the State Water Control Board General Meeting today, Water Permitting Director Melanie Davenport presented an update on enforcement and construction on the Mountain Valley Pipeline. In her report, Davenport repeatedly highlighted citizen reports and the time and manner in which they were reported to the agency.

The Board heard complaints from commenters regarding inadequate erosion and sediment control plans, citing specific incidents and requesting that the Board suspend the approved ESC plans for Mountain Valley Pipeline pending reconsideration.

Board members repeatedly asked commenters if they had reported the observed issues to DEQ inspectors.

As part of their meeting, the Board members also entered a two hour closed session to discuss the Attorney General’s lawsuit alleging over 300 violations of Virginia Water Control Law, as well as a formal FERC complaint filed by Wild Virginia, Indian Creek Watershed Association, Preserve Craig, Inc., Neal Laferriere, and Betty Werner regarding issues with the certification and enforcement processes.

Roberta Bondurant, POWHR Coalition Co-Chair

“We reject the Board’s apparent assumption that the failures of DEQ inspectors fall on the shoulders of everyday people in the path of MVP. Through ongoing reports to the Board and DEQ, sites that have shown problems for months — up to a year in some cases — have been repeatedly documented to regulators and written off as adequate by the agency.

“Inspections required by law of DEQ are not the task of impacted communities — often including the working poor and the elderly. If the DEQ and contracted inspectors are in the field 4-5 days per week, then they should be seeing and reporting the same problems volunteers are observing — whether or not the volunteers report at all.”

Russell Chisholm, POWHR Coalition Co-Chair and MVW Monitor

“Citizen reports — even six weeks after the fact — are an indictment of one of two things: either DEQ is not inspecting, or problems are being overlooked.

“We join the requests of commenters for the Board to intervene in the formal FERC complaint initiated by Wild Virginia and others. We additionally ask the Board to suspend the erosion and sediment control plans approved for Mountain Valley Pipeline in light of repeated problems and unaddressed variance requests.”

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