Blessings to You and Yours

Why the Worst is Yet to Come if we don’t Stop MVP

Blessings to You and Yours for A Joyous & Healthy 2019

Last month we reported ten (count them – 10) victories toward protecting our precious water resources and our peaceful way of life in these beautiful mountains.  This week, Preserve Craig’s chair of our Science Committee will share more background on why we continue to fight to halt the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).

Dr. Brian Murphy and numerous other natural resource scientists and karst experts have repeatedly submitted expert evidence to federal and state regulators about the severe harm that MVP undoubtedly will cause. These documents are available at our website eLibrary. But instead of heeding these scientific warnings,  the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Forest Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and officials in both Virginia and West Virginia have accepted the unsupported claims of a company that has been convicted elsewhere of harming groundwater and the environment and lying about it.  None of these agencies agreed to our requests to have MVP post a permanent and substantial monetary bond to fix the harm they will cause.  Now our Attorney General has had to sue MVP to collect for damages already seen, which so far are minor compared to what will occur if this unneeded project continues to completion.  Dr. Murphy explains why all MVP construction should be canceled to prevent irreparable harm.

Some claim that opposition to the MVP is a waste of time because the path is cleared already cleared of trees, and that delays might cause more environmental damage than if we just let MVP finish construction and ‘restore’ the land. Some argue that humans often cause visible erosion through common actions such as home construction, building driveways and roads, and farming, so we should not worry about a little more erosion caused by pipeline construction. But these arguments are rooted in a basic misunderstanding of the severe erosion and sedimentation threats presented by further MVP construction. Of course we all know that natural erosion occurs, and that various human actions can increase soil erosion and sedimentation into our local streams. But the observation that these other erosion incidents occur does not mean that we should ignore the even-more-extreme erosion that further construction of MVP will undoubtedly cause. The courts have blocked MVP from building in the Jefferson National Forest and from crossing hundreds of streams because MVP, and the various federal agencies who are supposed to be responsible for protecting the quality of the environment that we all live in, failed to perform a thorough and truthful evaluation of the potential damage that pipeline construction will cause.

Yes it is true that MVP has already disturbed thousands of acres of our region by clearing trees and bulldozing paths up and down extremely steep mountain slopes. Yes, the damage that they have already caused is appalling. Their actions have led to massive erosion problems that have closed public roads, damaged streams, and impacted citizens. But the damage to date will pale in comparison to what we will see if they are allowed now to dig through hundreds of streams in our region. Their erosion control plans have been proven to be woefully inadequate, and they have made no significant changes to those plans. Politically appointed members of FERC continue to bury their heads in the sand and try to convince us and the courts that “everything is going to be OK, just trust us.”

Well, FERC has lost the public trust due to their inadequate oversight to date, and the very visible conflicts of interest of the commissioners (almost all of whom have strong personal ties to the very industries that they are supposed to be regulating to protect the public). Everything is NOT going to be OK if MVP is allowed to damage hundreds of streams that are important to private and public water supplies, our thriving outdoor recreation industry, and the quality of life for citizens. By MVP’s own erosion analysis, increased sediment in the Roanoke River could cost taxpayers some $60 million to remove from public water supplies. And the US Forest Service has pointed out that MVP’s analysis is likely a gross underestimate of the likely damage. Allowing further construction of MVP will cause even worse environmental and economic damage to our region and our citizens, and the costs of this damage will be charged to us and our neighbors rather than to the private corporation that will profit even though they caused the damage.

I stand behind my statements here with more than 40 years of training and professional experience in natural resources management. The MVP project was clearly ill-conceived from the beginning, and the fact that they have already caused significant damage is no reason to allow them to multiply that damage even further. The courts should call a halt to this corporate land grab that will cost citizens in our region dearly.

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