Category Archives: Laws&Regs

Virginia Gas and Oil Reguations Review by STRONGER Group Conducted Aug. 8-11, 2016

In June 2016, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) announced that it had contracted with the STONGER group (State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations; online at http://www.strongerinc.org/) to conduct a comprehensive review of all of Virginia’s gas and oil regulations.  (Virginia’s gas and oil regulations are available online at https://www.dmme.virginia.gov/DMME/LawsRegs.shtml#gasoil.)  STRONGER did a similar review in 2004 (a PDF of that review is available online at http://www.strongerinc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Virginia-Initial-Review-4-2004.pdf), so the current review is being termed a “follow up.”  The group conducted the 2016 review from August 8-11 in Abingdon, and it expects to publish the “State Review Report of the 2016 Virginia Follow-Up Review” in December 2016.

Sources:
Proposed state fracking review by private group concerns environmentalists, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 6/25/16.

Virginia Natural Gas Regulations to be reviewed by STRONGER, DMME News Release, 8/3/16.

STRONGER Completes Virginia In-State Interview, STRONGER News Release, 8/11/16.

For more details on natural gas developments in Virginia, please see this News Grouper post.

Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for Aug. 24-Sept. 5, 2016

For more information, click on underlined meeting dates. Click here for the Commonwealth Calendar listing of all government meetings open to the public, and here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall listing of all government meetings of a regulatory nature.

For other, non-governmental, events, please see the Water Central News Grouper post, Quick Guide to Virginia Water-related Events.

REGULAR MEETINGS OF STATEWIDE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS

8/25/16, 8:30 a.m.: Virginia Agricultural Council.  At the Martha Washington Inn, 150 West Main Street in Abingdon (Washington County).

8/31/16, 10:30 a.m.: Aquaculture Advisory Board.  At the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, 12580 West Creek Parkway in Richmond.

9/1/16, 10 a.m.: Board for Professional Soil Scientists, Wetland Professionals, and Geologists.  At the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond.

9/1/16, 2 p.m.: Coal Surface Mining Reclamation Fund Advisory Board.  At the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy office, 3405 Mountain Empire Road in Big Stone Gap (Wise County).

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VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY WATER-RELATED MEETINGS

For meetings of legislative committees and commissions, see http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?151+oth+MTG.  Links to information about General Assembly commissions, councils, and special interim committees coordinated by the Division of Legislative Services are available online at http://dls.virginia.gov/commissions.html.

None during this period.

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MEETINGS ABOUT TOTAL MAXIMUM DAILY LOADS (or TMDLs) for IMPAIRED WATERS

For more information about TMDLs in Virginia, click here for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site; click on “Public Notices” in the menu to the left to access upcoming meetings and public-comment periods.  A search tool to find approved TMDL reports is available at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/TMDL/TMDLDevelopment/ApprovedTMDLReports.aspx.

8/29/16, 10 a.m., on the TMDL study of bacterial and aquatic life (benthic) impairments in Woods Creek, located in the Maury River/James River basin in Rockbridge County and the City of Lexington.  At the Natural Bridge Soil and Water Conservation District Office, 40 Magnolia Square Way, Suite 5, in Lexington.

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MEETINGS ON OTHER SPECIFIC TOPICS
(topics listed alphabetically)

Air-Water Connections
8/29/16, 9:30 a.m.: Air Pollution Control Board/Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Title V Fee Stakeholder Advisory Group.  At the DEQ Main Office, 629 East Main Street in Richmond.  Under Title V of the federal Clean Air Act, states charge Title V fees for operating permits required for major sources of air emissions.  More information on Title V permits is available from the U.S. EPA online at https://www.epa.gov/title-v-operating-permits; and from the Va. DEQ online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Air/FeesUndertheVAAirPollutionControlLaw.aspx.

Energy – Fossil Fuels
8/29/16, 6 p.m.: Air Pollution Control Board/Department of Environmental Quality public hearing on a draft permit amendment requested by Doswell Limited Partnership for the Doswell Energy Center in Ashland (Hanover County).  At the Ashland Branch Library, 201 South Railroad Avenue in Ashland.  The facility proposes to add two natural-gas-fired combustion turbines, each rated at 170 megawatts.  The public comment period is 7/29/16 to 9/13/16.

Groundwater
8/25/16, 9 a.m.: Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Advisory Committee/Work Group #3, on Future Permitting Criteria.  Also on 8/25/16, 1 p.m.: Work Group #4, on Funding.  Both meetings at the Department of Environmental Quality’s Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road in Glen Allen (Henrico County).  The 2015 Virginia General Assembly passed HB 1924 and SB 1341, companion bills that established this Advisory Committee to assist the State Water Commission and the DEQ in developing, revising, and implementing a management strategy for groundwater in the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area.  The bills state that the Advisory Committee is to examine the following:
(i) options for developing long-term alternative water sources, including water reclamation and reuse, ground water recharge, desalination, and surface water options, including creation of storage reservoirs;
(ii) the interaction between the Department of Environmental Quality’s ground water management programs and local and regional water supply plans within the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area for purposes of determining water demand and possible solutions for meeting that demand;
(iii) potential funding options both for study and for implementation of management options;
(iv) alternative management structures, such as a water resource trading program, formation of a long-term ground water management committee, and formation of a commission;
(v) additional data needed to more fully assess aquifer health and sustainable ground water management strategies;
(vi) potential future ground water permitting criteria; and
(vii) other policies and procedures that the director of the [DEQ] determines may enhance the effectiveness of ground water management in the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area.”  The Committee is to provide its report by August 2017.  More information about the Advisory Committee is available online at http://deq.state.va.us/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity.aspx; more information about groundwater management areas in Virginia is available online at http://www.deq.state.va.us/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/GroundwaterPermitting.aspx.

8/29/16, 1:30 p.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public meeting on evaluation of existing design specifications for best management practices in areas with a seasonal high groundwater table.  At the DEQ’s Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road in Glen Allen (Henrico County).  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for this meeting: in response to House Joint Resolution 587 in the 2015 Virginia General Assembly, the DEQ is “evaluating the existing design specifications for best management practices (BMPs) listed on the Virginia Stormwater BMP Clearinghouse to allow the effective use of these BMPs in areas with a seasonal high groundwater table.”  More information on DEQ stormwater-management activities is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/StormwaterManagement.aspx.

Legislative Commissions
8/24/16, 10 a.m.: State Water Commission.  At House Room C of the General Assembly Building in Richmond.  Agenda (opens as PDF).  The State Water Commission was established by the Virginia General Assembly in 1990.  Its purpose, according to Virginia Code section 30-187, is to “study all aspects of water supply and allocation problems in the Commonwealth, whether these problems are of a quantitative or qualitative nature; [and] coordinate the legislative recommendations of all other state entities having responsibilities with respect to water supply and allocation issues….”  More information about the Commission is available online at http://dls.virginia.gov/commissions/swc.htm.

Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for Aug. 16-29, 2016

For more information, click on underlined meeting dates. Click here for the Commonwealth Calendar listing of all government meetings open to the public, and here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall listing of all government meetings of a regulatory nature.

For other, non-governmental, events, please see the Water Central News Grouper post, Quick Guide to Virginia Water-related Events.

REGULAR MEETINGS OF STATEWIDE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS

8/17/16, 9 a.m.: Sewage Handling and Disposal Appeal Review Board.  At the Perimeter Center, Training Rooms 1A, 1B, & 1C, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond.

8/17/16, 10 a.m.: Board of Game and Inland Fisheries Wildlife, Boat and Law Enforcement Committee.  At 7870 Villa Park Drive in Henrico.

8/18/16, 9 a.m.: Board of Game and Inland Fisheries.  At 7870 Villa Park Drive in Henrico.

8/23/16, 9:30 a.m.: Marine Resources Commission.  At 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.

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VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY WATER-RELATED MEETINGS

For meetings of legislative committees and commissions, see http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?151+oth+MTG.  Links to information about General Assembly commissions, councils, and special interim committees coordinated by the Division of Legislative Services are available online at http://dls.virginia.gov/commissions.html.

None during this period.

*          *          *

MEETINGS ABOUT TOTAL MAXIMUM DAILY LOADS (or TMDLs) for IMPAIRED WATERS

For more information about TMDLs in Virginia, click here for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site; click on “Public Notices” in the menu to the left to access upcoming meetings and public-comment periods.  A search tool to find approved TMDL reports is available at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/TMDL/TMDLDevelopment/ApprovedTMDLReports.aspx.

None during this period.

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MEETINGS ON OTHER SPECIFIC TOPICS
(topics listed alphabetically)

Agriculture
8/18/16, 9:30 a.m.: Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost-share Program Technical Advisory Committee.  At the Virginia Department of Forestry, 900 Natural Resources Drive in Charlottesville.

8/19/16, 10 a.m.: Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Pollinator Protection Advisory Committee.  In Senate Room 3 of the Capitol Building, 1000 Bank Street in Richmond.

Energy – Fossil Fuels
8/29/16, 6 p.m.: Air Pollution Control Board/Department of Environmental Quality public hearing on a draft permit amendment requested by Doswell Limited Partnership for the Doswell Energy Center in Ashland (Hanover County).  At the Ashland Branch Library, 201 South Railroad Avenue in Ashland.  The facility proposes to add two natural-gas-fired combustion turbines, each rated at 170 megawatts.  The public comment period is 7/29/16 to 9/13/16.

Fort Monroe
8/18/16, 1 p.m.: Fort Monroe Authority Board of Trustees.  At 490 Fenwick Road in Fort Monroe (adjacent to the City of Hampton).  In 2011, the Virginia General Assembly (Senate Bill 1400) established the Fort Monroe Authority to manage the historic areas of Fort Monroe and Old Point Comfort—at the confluence of Hampton Roads with the Chesapeake Bay—after the federal government closed its military facilities there.  Fort Monroe had been a U.S. military base since 1836.  In 2011, the area was designated as Fort Monroe National Monument (http://www.nps.gov/fomr/index.htm).  More information about Fort Monroe and the Authority is available online at http://www.fmauthority.com/.

Groundwater
8/25/16, 9 a.m.: Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Advisory Committee/Work Group #3, on Future Permitting Criteria.  Also on 8/25/16, 1 p.m.: Work Group #4, on Funding.  Both meetings at the Department of Environmental Quality’s Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road in Glen Allen (Henrico County).  The 2015 Virginia General Assembly passed HB 1924 and SB 1341, companion bills that established this Advisory Committee to assist the State Water Commission and the DEQ in developing, revising, and implementing a management strategy for groundwater in the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area.  The bills state that the Advisory Committee is to examine the following:
(i) options for developing long-term alternative water sources, including water reclamation and reuse, ground water recharge, desalination, and surface water options, including creation of storage reservoirs;
(ii) the interaction between the Department of Environmental Quality’s ground water management programs and local and regional water supply plans within the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area for purposes of determining water demand and possible solutions for meeting that demand;
(iii) potential funding options both for study and for implementation of management options;
(iv) alternative management structures, such as a water resource trading program, formation of a long-term ground water management committee, and formation of a commission;
(v) additional data needed to more fully assess aquifer health and sustainable ground water management strategies;
(vi) potential future ground water permitting criteria; and
(vii) other policies and procedures that the director of the [DEQ] determines may enhance the effectiveness of ground water management in the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area.”  The Committee is to provide its report by August 2017.  More information about the Advisory Committee is available online at http://deq.state.va.us/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity.aspx; more information about groundwater management areas in Virginia is available online at http://www.deq.state.va.us/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/GroundwaterPermitting.aspx.

8/29/16, 1:30 p.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public meeting on evaluation of existing design specifications for best management practices in areas with a seasonal high groundwater table.  At the DEQ’s Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road in Glen Allen (Henrico County).  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for this meeting: in response to House Joint Resolution 587 in the 2015 Virginia General Assembly, the DEQ is “evaluating the existing design specifications for best management practices (BMPs) listed on the Virginia Stormwater BMP Clearinghouse to allow the effective use of these BMPs in areas with a seasonal high groundwater table.”  More information on DEQ stormwater-management activities is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/StormwaterManagement.aspx.

Land and Watershed Management
8/18/16, 10 a.m.: Department of Conservation and Recreation’s State Trails Advisory Committee.  At the Virginia Housing Center, 4224 Cox Road in Glen Allen (Henrico County).

Legislative Commissions
8/24/16, 10 a.m.: State Water Commission.  At House Room C of the General Assembly Building in Richmond.  Agenda (opens as PDF).  The State Water Commission was established by the Virginia General Assembly in 1990.  Its purpose, according to Virginia Code section 30-187, is to “study all aspects of water supply and allocation problems in the Commonwealth, whether these problems are of a quantitative or qualitative nature; [and] coordinate the legislative recommendations of all other state entities having responsibilities with respect to water supply and allocation issues….”  More information about the Commission is available online at http://dls.virginia.gov/commissions/swc.htm.

Atlantic Forage Species Amendment Passed August 8, 2016, by Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council

On August 8, 2016, in a meeting in Virginia Beach, Va., the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council adopted an amendment providing a level of management and protection for over 50 species of fish and other marine animals that provide forage for larger predators.  The Mid-Atlantic Council, headquartered in Dover, Del., oversees fishery management in federal waters offshore of the Mid-Atlantic states from New York to North Carolina; it’s one of eight regional councils in the United States (for more information on the Mid-Atlantic Council, see http://www.mafmc.org/).

According to a Council presentation at the August 8 meeting (available online at http://www.mafmc.org/briefing/august-2016), the goal of the amendment, called the “Unmanaged Forage Omnibus Amendment,” is “[t]o prohibit the development of new and expansion of existing directed commercial fisheries on unmanaged forage species in Mid-Atlantic Federal waters until the Council has had an adequate opportunity to both assess the scientific information relating to any new or expanded directed fisheries and consider potential impacts to existing fisheries, fishing communities, and the marine ecosystem.”  The measure aims to avoid situations where forage species become targeted and intensively harvested before fishery managers can assess what impacts such harvests might cause.

Additional source: Call them bait. Call them forage species. In any case, now they’re protected, Virginian-Pilot, 8/8/16.

Request for Stream Mitigation Project Proposals in Big Sandy River Basin in Virginia; Proposals Due to Nature Conservancy by August 25, 2016

On July 7, 2016, the Nature Conservancy announced a request for proposals for one or more stream mitigation projects to compensate for impacts to streams in the Big Sandy River basin in Virginia, under the Virginia Aquatic Trust Fund mitigation program.  Proposals are due by August 25, 2016.  The request for proposals is available online at http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/virginia/explore/vartf-big-sandy-river-proposal-72016.xml.

Under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) and under Virginia’s Water Protection Permit Program, which implements parts of Sections 401 and 404 of the CWA, a permit is required for disturbances (clearing, filling, excavating, draining, or ditching) to wetlands or streams covered by the CWA, and such disturbances are to be mitigated be avoidance, minimization, or compensation; or more information on mitigation, see the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), “Mitigation,” online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WetlandsStreams/Mitigation.aspx.  The Virginia Aquatic Trust Fund is a mitigation program for impacts to streams and wetlands permitted by state and federal regulatory agencies; it’s administered by the Nature Conservancy, the Virginia DEQ, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the federal agency with primary responsibility for enforcing CWA Section 404).  More information about the Virginia Aquatic Trust Fund is available online from the Nature Conservancy at http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/virginia/explore/the-virginia-aquatic-resources-trust-fund-home.xml; and from the Virginia DEQ online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WetlandsStreams/Mitigation.aspx.

Some of the information for this post was provided by the Virginia Water Monitoring Council (VWMC).  More information about the VWMC is available online at http://www.vwmc.vwrrc.vt.edu/.

No Discharge Zone Applications for Two Gloucester County, Va., Waterways Announced in July 2016; Public Meeting July 27, 2016

In July 2016, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced its intent to apply to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for two federal No Discharge Zones (NDZs), for the Perrin River and Sarah Creek in Gloucester County, Va.  A public meeting on the draft application will be held July 27, 2016, 6 p.m., at Abingdon Elementary School, 7087 Powhatan Drive in Hayes.  Details on that meeting are available from the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall, online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewMeeting.cfm?MeetingID=24626.

According to the online information for that meeting,  the Virginia Code (Section 62.1-44.33) “resolves that all tidal creeks in Virginia be designated federal No Discharge Zones premised on the improvement of impaired tidal creeks and directs the VDEQ to pursue this designation.  It is currently illegal to discharge raw sewage in U.S. territorial waters.  In a NDZ, this ban is expanded to include sewage treated by on-board marine sanitation devices.  A NDZ is determined by EPA upon application from the state, and is contingent on the state demonstrating: 1) the need for enhanced protection of water quality, 2) the availability of sufficient local alternatives to overboard discharge (i.e. pump-outs), and 3) local stakeholder support.  DEQ is seeking this designation as one component of a ‘pollution diet’ [total maximum daily load, or TMDL] for small tidal Chesapeake Bay tributaries, which are frequently impaired for shellfish harvest due to elevated levels of fecal bacteria.  The Go Green Committee of Gloucester County has partnered with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to conduct an analysis of boat usage and pump-out availability for Sarah Creek and Perrin River in Gloucester County, and DEQ has concluded that existing pump-out facilities are adequate to service estimated peak-demand.”

A draft application to EPA for NDZ designation has been prepared; the day after the public meeting, this document will be available for public review and comment on the DEQ “No Discharge Zone” Web site, at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/TMDL/NoDischargeZoneDesignations.aspx.

 

Va. Governor’s June 28, 2016, Executive Order on Reducing Carbon Emissions from Power Plants; Workgroup to Provide Recommendations by April 30, 2017

On June 28, 2016, Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order creating a workgroup to recommend actions available under existing state authority to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.  The working group will be under Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward, and the group is to provide recommendations by April 30, 2017.

In 2015, the U.S. EPA released the Clean Power Plan regulation of carbon emissions from existing power plants, but on February 9, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed EPA implementation of the regulation, pending the outcome of litigation that had been filed by several states and other parties.  The 2016 Virginia General Assembly passed language in the state budget forbidding the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality from spending money on implementation of the Clean Power Plan until that federal court stay is lifted.

The full text of Gov. McAuliffe’s order, Executive Order 57, is available in the following source: Governor McAuliffe Signs Executive Order to Reduce Carbon Emissions in Virginia; Order creates workgroup to recommend executive actions to reduce carbon emissions from the electric sector, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 6/28/16.

Following are some news accounts on the executive order:
Virginia Gov. McAuliffe issues executive order to cut GHG emissions, UtilityDive, 6/30/16.
McAuliffe promises action on carbon, climate change, sets task force in motion, Daily Press, 6/28/16.
McAuliffe plans to sidestep legislature on climate change, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 6/28/16 [full text of executive order also available in this article].
McAuliffe pushes for action on decreasing carbon emissions, Virginian-Pilot, 6/28/16.

For more information on the Clean Power Plan, please see this Virginia Water Central News Grouper link.  For information on the litigation against the plan, please see this News Grouper link.