Mountain Valley Pipeline Hits a Big Snag

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has recommended a permit the Mountain Valley Pipeline needs to cross streams and wetlands in West Virginia be denied. 

            Under the Clean Water Act, the Mountain Valley Pipeline is required to have a permit to cross streams and wetlands.  The United States Army Corps of Engineers has the authority to make the permit decision.  While the Corps of Engineers makes the decision, the Environmental Protection Agency reviews the permit application and makes recommendations.  It has recommended that the Corps not issue the permit.

            The EPA communicated its concern with the project in a letter, setting forth its concerns in detail.  It drew this conclusion:

In conclusion, it appears that the project, as proposed, may not comply with the Guidelines.  It is not apparent that all impacts have been minimized nor is it evident that the direct, secondary, and cumulative impacts have been thoroughly evaluated and mitigated so that the proposed project will not cause or contribute to significant degradation of the waters of the United States.  

            EPA stopped short of saying that the permit could never be issued under any circumstances.  It said only that the present application did not do enough to protect the waters of the United States.  In the same conclusory paragraph it said:

EPA recommends modifications to the permit application and project be undertaken to address the detailed comments identified in the attached enclosures.  EPA also requests the opportunity to meet with the Corps and others to work collaboratively to address EPA comments.  At this time EPA recommends that the permit not be issued until modifications described in the attachment, including the recommended special conditions, have been addressed and incorporated into the project.

            It remains to be seen how the developers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Corps of Engineers respond.  Time will tell whether they will correct the difficulties with the application and what measures they will suggest to adequately protect the waters of the United States.