Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Virginia Approves Pipeline, Sort Of

Panel grants conditional OK on key pipeline approval
A panel of Virginia regulators has granted a conditional permit for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline contingent on getting more information about the project's water quality impacts.

The Virginia State Water Control Board voted 4-3 Tuesday to approve a key Clean Water Act permit. The board is charged with determining whether there is "reasonable assurance" water along the route won't be contaminated during construction.

Department of Environmental Quality spokesman Bill Hayden says the permit won't take effect until several additional studies are reviewed and approved by the department. They include soil and erosion control plans and stormwater management plans.

Pipeline spokesman Aaron Ruby called the decision a "very significant milestone for the project and another major step toward final approval."

He said they'd continue to "work closely" with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality toward completing all remaining approvals to meet conditions of the certification.

"This has been a rigorous and transparent process, and everyone’s voice has been heard," he added. "The process has resulted in more environmental protection and higher water quality standards than any other project of this kind."

Many opponents characterized the decision as a partial victory.

“We are pleased that the Water Control Board refused to allow the pipeline project to proceed until threats from pollution are more thoroughly examined. This was the right decision," said Peggy Sanner, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Virginia Assistant Director. “Building the pipeline without this information would disturb waterways across Virginia and increase pollution to local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay."

Lee Francis, communications manager for the Virginia League of Conservation Voters added, "While this outcome buys us time, it’s still far from the end result for clean water we wanted."

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