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Group of 29 demands Virginia DEQ issue stop work order on Mountain Valley Pipeline

Rebecca Barnabi
Mountain Valley Pipeline
(© Malachi Jacobs – Shutterstock)

In response to possible impact on water quality of homes in Giles County, 29 organizations have written to Director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Mike Rolband.

The organizations, whose letter is dated February 8, 2024, insist that he issue a stop work order for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) for repeated and widespread violations and damage to waterbodies and private property. The groups represent thousands of individuals in Virginia and beyond, including residents and landowners directly affected by MVP’s pollution and destruction.
“It is past time for Director Rolband to step up and reverse the pattern of ineffectual responses DEQ has built over the last six years. The conditions found in 2019, which prompted DEQ’s only stop work order to date, were serious and the order was appropriate. But, those 2019 violations were relatively minor compared to the horrible conditions and continuing threats being exposed by volunteer observers now,” David Sligh, Wild Virginia’s Conservation Director said.
The evidence in the letter includes major discharges of polluted water to Sinking Creek, a trout stream in Giles County, and Bottom Creek in Roanoke County, a stream Virginia has designated an “exceptional resource water,” but which DEQ is failing to protect. MVP has apparently breached a karst aquifer near Sinking Creek; a torrent of polluted water has flooded nearby properties and is choking Sinking Creek with thick, muddy discharges. Sinking Creek and other streams have suffered repeated discharges of pollution caused by MVP. The incidents accelerated in late 2023 and continue today, as documented by citizen monitors early yesterday morning.
The groups signing yesterday’s letter called out DEQ for public statements and information on its web site that misstate and minimize its authority to take enforcement action and stop work when state waters are being damaged. DEQ claims it can’t respond to actual dirty discharges or pollution in streams, as long as MVP has minimum control measures in place. Even if MVP’s attempts do not work, DEQ will not act. DEQ’s website also omits any mention of strengthened stop work authority the General Assembly gave the agency in 2021 and, again, claims real damage to Virginia waters is not a basis for strong action by DEQ.
Wild Virginia and its allies will continue to report MVP violations and insist on real enforcement by all responsible agencies, including the Army Corps of Engineers, which has serious obligations under the Clean Water Act. The organizations also call on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to step.

Virginia community concerned about water quality near Mountain Valley Pipeline – Augusta Free Press

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.