State Water Control Board says it has no authority to revoke pipeline certification
Members of the State Water Control Board quickly headed behind closed doors Friday, while opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline formed a prayer circle in the meeting room.
A large crowd had assembled at the hotel in Chesterfield County where the board held a meeting to consider revocation of a key pipeline permit. In the audience were both opponents and supporters. And they had to wait hours to hear what the board decided.
Union member Curtis Eaves came from Blacksburg to support the project.
"Nothing against none of the environmental people, or nobody else here you know," Eaves told WDBJ7. "We're here. We need to work, to do a job. And I just want to see when we can go back to work."
In the year since construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline started, reports of excessive runoff and erosion have multiplied, leading the board to schedule Friday's meeting.
When board members returned to open session after four hours, they said they are still concerned about those problems, but are now convinced they do not have authority to revoke the water quality certification.
Opponents reacted with anger and disappointment.
"I believe that the action they began in December was exactly the right action," said David Sligh, Conservation Director of the group Wild Virginia.." We certainly believe they do have all of the authority they need to move forward."
"I thought that as a citizens board, after what we were offered in December, that they might actually do the right thing," said pipeline opponent Mara Robbins. "And instead, what did they do? Worse than nothing."
A spokesperson for the Mountain Valley Pipeline said the company is pleased with the board's decision, and reaffirms its commitment to working with state regulators to ensure environmental compliance.
Following is the company's complete statement:
"On Friday, March 1, 2019, the Virginia State Water Control Board (SWCB) voted unanimously to end its consideration of whether to revoke the Water Quality Certification that the Board issued for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) project in December 2017.
The Board acknowledged the legal concerns associated with revocation and recognized the importance of the additional protections incorporated in its approval. Mountain Valley is pleased with the Board’s decision and we appreciate and respect the comprehensive permitting process established by the SWCB and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VA DEQ). The MVP project team reaffirms its commitment to work with the SWCB and VA DEQ to ensure environmental compliance throughout the remainder of the project and will maintain a steadfast focus on complying with all state and federal regulations.
Construction of the MVP project is approximately 70 percent complete, and we remain committed to completing the remaining work as permitted in a safe and responsible manner in order to bring the project into service by the end of this year.:"
Meanwhile, opponents say their fight will continue.
They are now calling on Attorney General Mark Herring to file an emergency injunction to stop work on the project.