6 Ways the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines Would Be Bad for Virginia

A new report outlines exactly how the two proposed gas pipelines would threaten the state's waterways and reservoirs.

Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, which straddles North Carolina and Virginia, would be at risk if these pipelines are built.

USFWS

The Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast gas pipelines, insufficiently studied and greenlighted by the Trump administration late last year, could potentially span a combined total of 900 miles—and both would cut through Virginia. A new report by NRDC and the environmental consulting firm Downstream Strategies found that these pipelines pose serious environmental threats to the state’s surrounding water supplies and ecosystems.

Previous studies have shown that the pipelines will cause Virginia consumers’ electricity bills to rise and won’t create as many jobs as claimed, but this report is the first to look at the specific impact on Virginia’s rivers and streams. Virginia’s governor, Ralph Northam, expressed concern about the projects in the past, but environmental groups, including NRDC, hope these new findings will convince him to launch a new and thorough review of the pipelines’ threats to water, which could ultimately lead to the projects’ rejection. Here are six alarming findings from the study.

1.   The two pipelines would cross Virginia waterways more than 1,000 times, directly threatening the Chesapeake Bay watershed and important wetlands.

2.   The pipelines are bad news for clean drinking water: 11 crossings will occur less than a mile from two reservoirs supplying drinking water to Norfolk.

3.   Wild and native trout streams are at risk: 73 of the water crossings were deemed “highest-concern” by the conservation nonprofit Trout Unlimited.

4.   Construction of the pipelines would result in above-normal sediment in streams, even after construction is finished. Excess sediment is a pollutant that harms fish and aquatic life.

5.   More than 315 acres of crucial Virginia wetlands are at stake, including 75 acres connected by water to the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

6.   The pipelines will run through or near some of the state’s low-income communities of color—including Franklin and Emporia—and could threaten their clean drinking water.


NRDC.org stories are available for online republication by news media outlets or nonprofits under these conditions: The writer(s) must be credited with a byline; you must note prominently that the story was originally published by NRDC.org and link to the original; the story cannot be edited (beyond simple things such as time and place elements, style, and grammar); you can’t resell the story in any form or grant republishing rights to other outlets; you can’t republish our material wholesale or automatically—you need to select stories individually; you can't republish the photos or graphics on our site without specific permission; you should drop us a note to let us know when you’ve used one of our stories.

Dispatch

Meet five people who are fighting on the ground—from Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina—to stop the destructive fossil fuel project before it’s too late.

Victory

The notorious tar sands pipeline was a lightning rod in the fight against climate change and the seemingly unstoppable oil industry. NRDC advocates were part of a broad coalition that helped stop Keystone XL—for good.

onEarth Story

Plus, the president warns states against protecting their own waterways, and the man Scott Pruitt would call for scientific advice is not a scientist.

onEarth Story

The Trump administration undermines an historic trail, tries desperately to save just one coal-fired power plant, and sells out the endangered delta smelt.

Southeast Dispatch

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline—and the Mountain Valley Pipeline, with a similar path—could tear up land and negatively impact people throughout Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina.

onEarth Story

FERC gets federalism wrong, Zinke gets monuments wrong, and Pruitt gets babysat.

Midwest Dispatch

High-profile disasters on the controversial pipeline prompted the feds to temporarily halt construction, but the state demands a more permanent solution.

Midwest Dispatch

In a recent report, the tribe picks apart the pipeline company’s emergency response plan.

onEarth Story

Armed with 1,000 blue pennants—one for each waterway put at risk by the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines—communities are taking up their battle stations.

onEarth Story

Despite a court order to reassess the Dakota Access Pipeline’s environmental impact, the agency won’t share the results of its new study.

onEarth Story

The EPA lets states pollute other states’ air, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline fails and fails again to follow the law, and Ryan Zinke actually says the government works for oil companies.

Latest News

The Trump administration’s slapdash approval process for fossil fuel projects just isn’t standing up to legal review.

Join Us

When you sign up you'll become a member of NRDC's Activist Network. We will keep you informed with the latest alerts and progress reports.