Pipeline Opponents Demand 401 Permit be Declared Void

On November 28, 2018, 10 gallons of stormwater from “Mudslide Springs” were delivered to the State Water Control Board during the Public Hearing for the General VPDES Permit for Discharges of Stormwater from Construction Activities. The stormwater was accompanied by a declaration which demanded that the Board “not merely discuss regulations that are only meant to be theoretical. Craft them to be enforced vigorously – it is up to DEQ and the State Water Control Board to protect our water quality. Uphold the standards. Stop Work Now. Void the permits.”

Tina Badger, a resident of Elliston who has fought the MVP since 2014, said: “It’s utter destruction. The MVP continues to wreck our water and mountains, just chewing them up and spitting them out–it’s violent and abusive. I’ve lived here my whole life and have NEVER seen the amount of sediment in the Roanoke River that I have seen this year–I do not know if the Roanoke Logperch could have possibly survived, given the contamination during their spawning season. The gross negligence met with zero action from regulators equals a permit that’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. It’s a mockery of the clean water act.”

Tammy Belinsky, Floyd County environmental attorney, said: “The State Water Control Board and the DEQ have failed to protect Virginians from harm to their water, land and livelihoods caused by construction of the MVP. Attorney General Mark Herring has a duty to declare the 401 water quality certification void because the 404 Nationwide 12 permit has been suspended by the Corps of Engineers. The notice for today’s public hearing makes clear that the Attorney General and the DEQ work solely for industrial developers. It matters not what citizens and landowners write or say in any permitting action. The public hearing is merely a side show that the agency must perform before it sacrifices our water security in the name of development.”

Many are urgently concerned about safety issues, given the instability of the ground and the prevalence of groundwater in some of the areas in which they’re constructing. Activity at the Cove Hollow construction site, for example, has resulted in a large pond created by multiple underground springs documented by citizens. Any additional stormwater creates a scenario that is dangerous for travelers on Rt 460, as well as the railroad. Nonetheless, MVP is still trying to bore under the highway and the railroad, placing lives as well as water at risk.

“The damage already done to waterways, mountains and farms in Franklin County can never be repaired,” said Dave Werner, a landowner from Franklin County who’s long stood in opposition to the MVP. “And so many residents and citizen scientists have proven it. For months and months I have watched MVP construction cause irrevocable harm. I consider them environmental criminals. Our regulators and decision makers continue to legitimize this criminal activity. We must take the Board to task for their grave underestimation of the harm already done to the water resources in our region and make sure no more damage occurs.”

Mara Robbins, also a long-time opponent of the MVP, led the crowd in a delivery of a water protection proclamation. “We are tired of doing their job for them,” she said. And we have been doing just that for nearly a year. If they do not protect our water, we the people will.”