Before the Mountain Valley Pipeline would be allowed to cross streams or wetlands in West Virginia, it would need a permit from the United States Corps of Engineers. It had hopes that it could quality under what is called a Nationwide Permit. This is a one size fits all approach in which all stream or wetlands crossings. The MVP ran into difficulties with this approach (see The Highlands Voice, May, 2020; June, 2020; October, 2020; December, 2020; January, 2021; April, 2021). It decided to, instead, pursue individual approvals for each crossing. This is what it is doing now.
Under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act, federal agencies cannot authorize projects in a state unless that state certifies (called a 401 Certification) that the project will not violate state water quality standards. With the Mountain Valley Pipeline, West Virginia now has to decide whether it will refuse the 401 Certification. If it does not want to refuse the 401 Certification outright, it could condition its approval on the pipeline developers taking certain steps to protect water quality.
Part of deciding whether to issue the 401 certification, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has to ask the public what it thinks.
With the assistance of Appalachian Mountain Advocates, the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy has joined with several other groups to submit comments opposing making the 401 Certification. In addition, the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy has joined with several groups to make comments opposing the Certification. In this issue of The Highlands Voice, there are two pieces on the comments. The pieces by Randy Kesling (page 15) and Cindy Rank (page 5) reflect the flavor of comments submitted.