Twenty organizations (including the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy) have joined in a letter asking Governor Justice to take the lead in assuring that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline do not degrade West Virginia’s waters.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has recently approved these two pipelines (see story on page 1). This does not finally settle the question of whether they will be built and, if they are built, whether they will degrade West Virginia’s waters. West Virginia has a role to play. Before the projects may be built West Virginia must issue what is called a 401 Certification. West Virginia must certify that the project will comply with state Water Quality Standards and “not potentially result in an adverse long-term or short-term impact on water quality.
As proposed, the pipelines will cross over caves, karst terrain, and groundwater systems. Together they will have an impact upon over 1,000 streams in West Virginia. They will require construction on steep slopes with highly erodible soils. Such construction is likely to cause runoff into streams, affecting aquatic life.
Reviewing such massive projects is no small task. The letter asks that the Governor take the lead in assuring that the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources devotes sufficient time and resources to assure that the reviews are thorough and that the waters of West Virginia are protected.