On April 6, 2017, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced that the agency would require individual water-quality certification permits for all wetland and stream crossings that would occur with the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley natural gas pipelines, should the projects be approved. Both the proposed Atlantic Coast pipeline and the proposed Mountain Valley pipeline are under review (as of April 2016) by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
The individual certification permits, known as 401 certifications after the relevant section of the federal Clean Water Act, are intended to ensure that all state water quality standards are maintained in areas affected by a project. DEQ plans to require the individual permits in addition to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide Permit 12, a general permit that would cover all of a project’s wetland and stream crosssings. According to the DEQ’s April 6, news release on this announcement, “[t]he public will have an opportunity to review and comment on these certifications and the conditions required to protect water quality. DEQ also will hold public hearings on the draft certifications. Once the comment period has concluded the proposed final certifications will be brought before the State Water Control Board.”
Source: DEQ will require additional individual 401 certifications for natural gas transmission pipeline projects, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality News Release, 4/617.
Some related news accounts
Virginia pipelines will be subject to Department of Environment Quality water-quality review, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/6/17.
DEQ to require pipeline projects to secure state water quality certification, Roanoke Times, 4/6/17.
State adds more steps in pipelines’ environmental certifications, WINA Radio-Charlottesville, 4/6/17.
With DEQ order, pipeline faces additional hurdles, Waynesboro News Virginian, 4/7/17.
Pipeline opponents praise DEQ decision, WDBJ TV-Roanoke, 4/7/17.
What’s Next for the Pipeline Controversies?, Bacon’s Rebellion, 4/14/17.
For more details about natural gas developments in Virginia, please see the Water Central News Grouper post, Natural Gas Drilling and Transport in Virginia under Close Scrutiny in 2014-17.