- The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has lifted the suspension on Mountain Valley Pipeline 's state stormwater permit, which the agency said now includes "adjustments" including enhanced inspection and enforcement, along with stronger environmental guidelines.
- The DEP also said it had waived the individual Clean Water Act Section 401 certification of federal permits for the project, after the Army Corps of Engineers reissued them with provisions that are specific to West Virginia.
- The Sierra Club called DEP's decision a "dereliction of duty" and said a coalition of environmental groups is exploring legal strategies to respond.
West Virginia officials said the Mountain Valley Pipeline will be allowed to move ahead and claimed the public participation process had succeeded in allowing a rigorous review.
“This is a case where the public review and comment system worked especially well,” DEP Cabinet Secretary Austin Caperton said in a statement.
The DEP released a draft certificate as part of the public review. Caperton said that as a result of some of the issues that were included in public comments, "our agency developed a revised strategy that will better utilize the state stormwater permit to provide significantly stronger safeguards for the waters of West Virginia.”
The state waived its Clean Air Act Section 401 certification rights, saying the Army Corps of Engineers recently reissued, with provisions that are specific to West Virginia, the Nationwide 12 permit which addresses stream crossings by the pipeline. According to the DEP, the new conditions, when combined with specific requirements included in the state’s stormwater permit, "will allow for better enforcement capabilities and enhanced protection for the state’s waters."
Environmentalists saw things differently.
The decision is "an outrageous and unprecedented dereliction of duty by DEP," Derek Teaney, senior attorney at Appalachian Mountain Advocates, said in a statement.
"After assuring a federal court that it was committed to reconsidering whether the MVP would degrade the hundreds of streams that it would impact, DEP has thrown up its hands and admitted that it is not up to the task of protecting West Virginia’s environment," Teaney said.
Separately, the Montgomery County, Va., board of supervisors will reportedly ask the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reconsider the certificate issued to Mountain Valley Pipeline.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline is being developed by EQT Corp. and is designed to provide up to 2 million dekatherms per day of firm transmission capacity to markets in the Mid- and South Atlantic regions of the United States.