MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — There has been another development in the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) project, one that could potentially set back its completion date.

In a recent letter from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the department ruled that natural gas pipelines greater than 36 inches in diameter do not qualify for Nationwide Permit 12, a permit that, up until this point, gave MVP the ability to place their pipes through waterways.

MVP’s pipes measure at 42 inches in diameter.

The MVP project teams remain confident in achieving its targeted in-service date of late 2021We are aware and understand the application of Virginia DEQ’s revised regulations as to future projects. As for the MVP project, we continue to assess available pathways for completion of stream and wetland crossings, which include alternative U.S. Army Corps approvals such as individual permits, obtaining additional FERC approvals, or a combination thereof.

Natalie Cox, Mountain Valley Pipeline Spokesperson

This means MVP will have to apply for permits to install pipes, stream-by-stream.

Nevertheless, MVP is confident they will still complete pipe installation by their most recent finish date of late 2021 (See statement above).

“The Nationwide Permit 12 should never have been granted,” said Tom Adams, a civil engineer and Director of Skyline Soil and Water Conservation District in Montgomery County.

Adams, a longtime opponent of MVP, welcomed the news of VDEQ’s ruling but also doesn’t see its logic.

“If a 42-inch pipeline needs a stream-by-stream permit, then a 36-inch pipeline should too,” he said. “There’s just hardly any difference.”

While MVP remains confident in their ability to complete the project on-time, Adams doesn’t see how that’s possible, given the number of waterways the pipeline has to cross.

“In Virginia, there are over 400,” Adams said. “I mean, even if you did one per day, which is absurd, that would be a year. Even doing one per month would be ambitious.”

For too long, government officials have allowed corporate entities to run amok in our mountain with little oversight and less regulation. The decision by the Department of Environmental Quality to deny the use of National Permit 12 by pipelines great than 36 inches represents a cautious step in the right direction for oversight bodies in the federal government. While corporations such as MVP should never have been allowed to use a sweeping document such as National Permit 12 as a trump card for waterways that vary greatly, AYCC is happy to see DEQ working more proactively to protect local ecosystems. However, AYCC’s joy at this decision is scarred by the knowledge that DEQ did not act soon enough to save our hollers and hills from the destruction the MVP has already left in its wake.

Statement from Appalachian Youth Climate Coalition on VDEQ’s ruling

While this ruling could potentially set MVP back, as far as completion and additional costs, Adams doesn’t see this as the end.

It’s but one battle in his, and many others’, war against MVP.

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