More than two months after it voted to hold a hearing to consider revocation of a key certification for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, sued by the state over several hundred alleged environmental violations, the State Water Control Board has finally scheduled a meeting for March 1 on the topic.
However, the March 1 meeting will not include a hearing on revoking the permit, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality says.
“The hearing referred to at the Dec. 13, 2018, board meeting will not occur at this special meeting on March 1; however, it will be discussed by the board,” the agency said in a news release.
The board agreed in December to consider revoking the 401 water quality certification, which was based on a “reasonable assurance” that construction of the project would not violate state water quality standards.
The board’s move came after a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Mark Herring against the company building the multi-state, 300-mile pipeline in December, and numerous reports from citizen monitoring groups that the pipeline construction is fouling waterways with sediment. The suit cited more than 300 violations for the project over seven months, but the Department of Environmental Quality has yet to issue a stop work order.
“We fully understand the level of intense public interest in the hearing that was discussed in December,” State Water Control Board Chair Heather Wood said in a statement. “This is a unique situation and we need to ensure the proper legal process is followed. The board will consider and discuss the next steps as a matter of law to ensure transparency and due process.”
The meeting will not include time for public comments since it is a specially called meeting, DEQ says.
David Sligh, an environmental attorney, conservation director at Wild Virginia and former DEQ engineer, said the board should allow a public hearing.
“We clearly cannot count on DEQ to represent our interests, so we must be allowed to do it ourselves,” Sligh said in a statement.
“Hundreds of violations and damage to dozens of Virginia waterbodies is more than enough justification for revoking MVP’s water quality certification,” Sligh wrote.
“Further, the failure of pollution-control methods, even when installed according to plans, was predicted. We now see more clearly than ever that DEQ’s ‘reasonable assurance’ that our waters and people would be protected was worthless. We hope and trust that our fellow citizens on the water board will stop this travesty.”
The board will discuss the possible revocation March 1 at 10 a.m. at the DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel located at 1021 Koger Center Blvd. in Richmond.