To: Virginia State Water Control Board
SWCB: Protect Virginia's Water
An Open Letter to the Virginia State Water Control Board
June 15, 2018
Dear Robert Dunn, Lou Ann Jessee-Wallace, Timothy G. Hayes, Roberta A. Kellam, G. Nissa Dean, Heather Wood, and Robert H. Wayland III,
As volunteers in service to the Virginia State Water Control Board (SWCB), you took an oath to support the Virginia Constitution, which asserts that “government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community,” and that the best government is that which produces “the greatest degree of happiness and safety, and is most effectually secured against the danger of maladministration.”
Board members usually rely on staff to provide them with accurate information for decision making, and they were led to believe that the MVP and ACP pipeline projects are being held to the tightest environmental controls in Virginia history. But as reported by the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coaliltion, FOIA requests to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) reveal little to no documentation that supports statements by the staff to the SWCB.
The SWCB has the power and responsibility to protect our water. You need not rely on DEQ staff for information. SWCB can access additional information, including public comments, websites such as newrivergeographics.com and the Facebook page “Virginia Pipeline Violations,” expert opinions such as Jacob Hileman’s “Why Northam should delay pipeline construction,” which clearly explains how MVP’s construction threatens the water supply for hundreds of thousands of Virginians, and new reports, including the May 29 report Virginia Drinking Water Threatened by Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines by the environmental consulting firm Downstream Strategies and the May 28 revelation that Dominion is suing MVP’s contractor, Precision Pipeline Builders (PPB), for incompetent work completed on a 55-mile pipeline resulting in 50 landslides through far less challenging terrain than Appalachia’s.
Virginians are depending upon you to act before your next meeting, which is not scheduled until August 21. It is clear that you were aware of potential irremediable harm by the current 401 certification when you asked for a renewed public comment period on April 12. The fact that you have received tens of thousands of comments in response indicates the urgent nature of the situation on the ground here in Southwest Virginia where pipeline construction is wreaking havoc on our waterways. Citizens have reported dozens upon dozens of issues, with Mountain Valley Watch having reported ~25 violations that should have prompted DEQ response.
SWCB is authorized to revoke certification if the Board determines that the permitted activity endangers human health or the environment and cannot be regulated to acceptable levels by VWP permit modification, as indicated under Virginia's Administrative Code: https://law.lis.virginia.gov/…/agenc…/chapter210/section180/ . The first step in revoking certification is a request for "Board consideration," according to Virginia Code: https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/62.1-44.15:02/ .
We respectfully request that the Citizen Board meet before the end of June (as permitted by § 62.1-44.11: "other meetings may be held at any time or place determined by the Board or upon call of the chairman or upon written request of any two members") for Board consideration of revoking certification for MVP and ACP because they endanger human health and the environment.
We thank you for your service to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Why is this important?
On June 20, 2018, pipeline opponents from across the state marched to DEQ in Richmond to deliver a set of nearly 800 signatures to this open letter (gathered in just five days). We will keep this petition open so that others may continue to sign. We plan to deliver updated versions on a rolling basis.
Please note there is one factual error in the open letter. The lawsuit is Precision Pipeline v. Dominion, not the other way around.