Governor defends oversight of pipeline projects

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MONTGOMERY CO., Va. (WDBJ7) Governor Ralph Northam says he has confidence in the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and the state's ability to monitor and regulate construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

"Are you confident that DEQ is up to the challenge," we asked?. "Absolutely, the DEQ is doing good work," the Governor responded.

Northam spoke with reporters Tuesday afternoon, before he helped Carilion New River Valley Medical Center flip the switch on 4000 new solar panels.

His comments about two natural gas pipeline projects came one week after a group of state lawmakers said the state isn't doing enough to protect water quality.

He defended the state's handling of the projects, and said the Department of Environmental Quality will hold the pipeline companies to high standards.

"You know we're using some of the most stringent parameters environmentally that have ever been used for these projects in Virginia," Northam said. "You know I have a lot of faith and confidence in our DEQ, and I need to let them do their work. We need to do this with science we want to do it with the law and we want to do it with transparency. So that's what I'm focused on."

Last week, lawmakers also called for a stream-by-stream analysis of every point where these two pipelines would cross Virginia waterways.

We asked the Governor if he is reviewing that request.

He didn't offer a definitive response, but told us state officials are working with DEQ and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make sure that if the project moves forward it is done in an environmentally responsible way.