Virginia Issues MVP Water Permit Despite Violations

Credit: US Fish and Wildlife Service, T. Travis Brown

The state of Virginia today approved a water permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). By a vote of 3-2 (with two members absent), the State Water Control Board approved the permit following the recommendation of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The DEQ, however, didn’t fully do its job. Its permit will allow construction work that threatens Virginia’s water quality standards. The project design and the agency’s analysis are filled with flaws. For instance, there is inadequate analysis of alternatives to the company’s proposals. Without more in-depth analysis of possible alternatives, we lack confidence that the pipeline will use the least environmentally damaging construction methods or route.


DEQ concedes that MVP is allegedly responsible for nearly 400 water quality-related violations in Virginia alone. And if that's not sufficient reason to reject a permit, a recent report by Wild Virginia found that MVP has actually already violated Virginia rules at least 1,500 times. And there's a lot more construction to be done--threatening hundreds of Virginia water bodies.

Even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently noted: “It is not apparent that all impacts have been minimized” and that the pipeline could cause or contribute to water quality violations.

It's hard to fully understand all the potential impacts without adequate data, but even without all the analysis needed, it’s clear that the construction of MVP as proposed seriously risks more violations of Virginia water quality standards and degradation of Virginia’s waters. It will threaten pristine waters that may provide drinking water to homes or farms, provide a home to endangered aquatic species such the Roanoke logperch or the Candy darter (one of the coolest looking endangered species), or endanger valuable trout fishing waters.

Ultimately, Virginia accepted MVP at its word that it won't harm Virginia waters, despite the fact that MVP has a long and sordid history of violations, there is no documented public need, there is inadequate data and analysis to fully assess all the impacts to Virginia’s clean waters, including groundwater, and there was no consideration of the emissions that the pipeline’s dirty gas would contribute to climate change. A sad day in Virginia.

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