~ FERC ignores rules and issues notice to begin construction in Giles ~
Happy Valentine’s Day! We do have much to be happy about – and proud of. But portions of our State and Federal governments are not among them. Since our last report, both the Commonwealth of Virginia (VA) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) entered into agreements with Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) that violate our laws, our rights, and good sense.
The McAuliffe administration, in its last days in office, waived any damages that MVP may cause to our waters and to our historic properties in return for very small payments to “mitigation” funds that do not actually provide services that make up for the anticipated damages to our resources. And the FERC, on Monday of this week, said MVP can begin construction of the pipeline in parts of Giles County despite an absence of proper approvals. This would be the first worksite on the actual pipeline right-of-way, despite unresolved eminent domain lawsuits, appeals, and missing permits.
Both actions are highly questionable and, we believe, illegal and need to be reversed. Preserve Craig’s attorneys are pursuing every avenue to correct this injustice and stop these criminals.
Secret agreement sells out Virginia citizens
In the case of the State, these agreements were kept secret and were not disclosed during Virginia public permitting hearings or comment periods with the Water Control Board or the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). In fact, while negotiating these secret deals, the DEQ was assuring the public and the Board that there would be no damage to State Waters. The 401 Water Quality permit that Virginia issued makes that promise, in direct conflict with the agreements capping the costs that MVP will occur for the damage the pipeline will cause. So, the DEQ was actually working on these agreements while promising the Water Control Board there will be no damages to water quality. Is that legal?
Molly Ward, Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources, signed the two secret agreements between the Commonwealth of Virginia and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) in late December of last year. In both cases, MVP will be held harmless for any damages they cause beyond the funds they are paying to “buy off” the State. The “Forest Fragmentation” Agreement protects MVP from any damages to forest, soil, and water beyond the $27.5 million pittance they commit to pay. Most of that fund will go to an industry organization that promotes logging. Put this amount of money in the context of a 300-mile pipeline that will cost nearly $4 Billion to build and will generate a federally guaranteed 14 percent rate of return for this private company, which is managed by convicted environmental criminals.
In the Historic Resources Agreement, MVP will pay the Virginia Historical Society a million dollars to cover any damages that MVP does to our historic resources.
In the case of the FERC, Paul Friedman, the project manager who issued the notice allowing MVP to begin construction, is intentionally ignoring the cases pending in several Federal Courts, the formal re-hearing motions and the requests by our Governor and Congressmen to hold off on any permits. MVP is pushing hard to get the trees cut before March 31, or they would have to wait until the fall to complete clearing under the permits they were issued.
What you can do
We are asking that citizens write to the governor to demand that the permits, issued without adequate data, and these “mitigation” agreements be revoked and a full investigation be undertaken. The DEQ has not accepted MVP’s Erosion Control Plans and our new Governor Northam indicated that his administration will review the situation and the DEQ water permits. You can find details at our website.
Preserve Craig is actively working to block MVP from harming our waters, our forests, our viewsheds, and our economy. We are working with our neighbors in adjoining counties and across the country to protect our way of life here in Craig. The FERC re-hearing requests, motions opposing permitting, lawsuits against the FERC, MVP, DEQ, the Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management are moving forward in the Federal Courts.
We are blessed to be living in this special place. We need to protect Craig County and this region for generations to come and need your donations and support to continue these efforts!