Opponents want Mountain Valley Pipeline to stop work until lawsuit date is set
BENT MOUNTAIN, Va. (WSET) -- Today, Mountain Valley Pipeline opponents came together calling for a stop to building, saying the recent lawsuit against the pipeline is meaningless unless officials make them stop work.
Attorney General Mark Herring and the Department of Environmental Quality filed a lawsuit in December, saying the pipeline committed several hundred environmental violations, but as of right now there is no set date for the hearing.
The suit alleges that between June and November, DEQ inspectors found more than 300 violations, mainly improper erosion control and storm-water management.
The complaints include things like "sediment in the spring" or "cloudy or milky water".
Former water control board member Roberta Kellam attended the meeting today.
She says Governor Northam should insist on a stop work order and Delegate Sam Rasoul says the attorney general should do more.
"But we hope that the attorney general whose office has not been a friend in this - we hope, we ask, we plead with the attorney general's office to help us help the people," said Rasoul.
The attorney general's office did not comment on the meeting but released a statement saying the Mountain Valley Pipeline has until the 11th to file a response.
This was the statement released by Charlotte Gomer, the press secretary for the attorney general's office.
“Attorney General Herring filed his suit on December 7 alleging that MVP violated the Commonwealth’s environmental laws and regulations as well as MVP’s Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification by failing to control sediment and stormwater runoff resulting in impacts to waterways and roads. The lawsuit is proceeding in the normal course. The company has until January 11 to file its response and after that it is expected that discovery will commence and the suit will continue to move forward, including with hearings before the court as necessary.”
The Mountain Valley Pipeline's spokesperson, Natalie Cox, released their statement in response.
The MVP project team is focused on the responsible and safe construction of this important pipeline project, which has undergone the most rigorous regulatory review of any natural gas pipeline project in the commonwealth of Virginia. Mountain Valley appreciates and respects the comprehensive permitting process established by the State Water Control Board (SWCB) and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VA DEQ). Since the onset of the MVP project, we have worked to design a route with the least overall impact to landowners and communities; and to preserve and protect sensitive species, historical resources, and the environment. MVP continues to work closely with state and federal environmental agencies to provide accurate, comprehensive construction updates that ensure compliance with previously approved plans and regulations.
Approximately 70% of the MVP project is now complete and finishing the remaining 30% of the project's construction work in accordance with plans previously approved by state regulators is the most environmentally prudent course of action.
The Virginia Office of the Attorney General filed a civil complaint against Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) on Friday, December 7, 2018 based on observations, primarily related to erosion and sediment control measures, made by VA Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) inspectors along the MVP route in Virginia during May through November of this year. The unusually wet conditions and periods of record rainfall this year in Virginia have presented construction challenges and the MVP project team has worked diligently to ensure appropriate soil erosion and sediment controls were implemented and restored where necessary along the route. In June, after direct consultation with the VA DEQ, the project team agreed to temporarily suspend pipeline installation activities in Virginia and focused exclusively on erosion controls and, as part of the process, standard Notices of Violation were issued by the VA DEQ in early July 2018.
The MVP project team takes its environmental stewardship responsibilities very seriously and appreciates the guidance and oversight by the VDEQ. MVP will continue to comply with the relevant laws and regulations related to the safe and responsible construction of this important infrastructure project in order to meet public demand for natural gas. MVP continues to target a fourth quarter 2019 full in-service date.