Environmental groups applaud legislation to strengthen pipeline oversight in Virginia

For Immediate Release:
Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018

Lee Francis | Communications Manager
Virginia League of Conservation Voters
(804) 225-1902 | lfrancis@valcv.org

Nancy Sorrells | Co-Chair
Augusta County Alliance
(540) 292-4170 | info@augustacountyalliance.org

Claudine McElwain | Program Communications Manager
Southern Environmental Law Center
(434) 977-4090 | cmcelwain@selcva.org

Harrison Wallace | Virginia Policy Coordinator and Coastal Campaign Manager
CCAN Action Fund
(804) 305-1472 | harrison@chesapeakeclimate.org

Bills would eliminate unnecessary gas infrastructure, require DEQ to perform robust water permitting, impact review process

RICHMOND – Today, Delegates Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) and Chris Hurst (D-Blacksburg) along with State Senator John Edwards (D-Roanoke) announced legislation aimed at strengthening Virginia’s oversight of interstate natural gas pipelines.

The suite of bills (HB 1187 and 1188 from Hurst; HB 1141 and 1294 from Rasoul; SB 324 from Edwards) protect landowners’ property rights from gas companies; prevent the Department of Environmental Quality from waiving any water permitting authority and require the agency to review construction in upland areas and in karst terrain, while also ensuring adequate erosion and sediment control measures; and require bonding for pipeline builders to provide financial compensation in the event of adverse impacts to our environment.

“The process that has unfolded over the past year exposed obvious flaws in Virginia’s current process to review and approve pipeline projects,” said Nancy Sorrells, co-chair of the Augusta County Alliance. “These necessary reforms add the layer of accountability we need to safeguard our water resources, property rights and the environment.”

“These pieces of legislation will go a long way towards protecting Virginians from the costs and environmental harm of unnecessary pipelines. We thank Delegates Rasoul and Hurst and Senator Edwards for doing the important work of holding Dominion and other pipeline developers accountable for projects that are costly, threaten private property, are unnecessary and could lock Virginians into decades of reliance on fossil fuel,” said Greg Buppert, Senior Attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

“Corporations should not be able to seize private land, build unnecessary fossil fuel infrastructure, charge us for it, and contaminate our drinking water in the process,” said Lee Francis, Communications Manager for the Virginia League of Conservation Voters. “We applaud the bills’ patrons for their leadership and urge the legislature to do the right thing for countless Virginians in the path of pipeline projects by supporting these bills.”

“The impacts of the interstate pipeline projects proposed in Virginia will be immense, and without safeguards like those proposed today, Virginians will be in harm’s way,” said Harrison Wallace, Virginia Policy Coordinator and Coastal Campaign Manager, CCAN Action Fund. “We don’t get a second chance to get this right. Now’s the time for the legislature to put citizens’ health and safety above corporate interests.”

The Mountain Valley Pipeline, proposed in southwest Virginia by EQT Midstream Partners, and Dominion Resources’ Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will cross 10 counties in the heart of the commonwealth, stand to disrupt a combined 443 miles of Virginia farmland, mountain peaks, and virgin forests, as well as countless streams, springs, rivers and wetlands.

In December, the State Water Control Board gave conditional approval to the Mountain Valley Pipeline pending further information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and required further information from Dominion before allowing its Atlantic Coast Pipeline to proceed.