Controversial Virginia gas pipeline gets water permit
The Virginia government on August 25 issued a draft recommendation to approve a water permit that moves the Mountain Valley gas pipeline one step forward.
The state’s Department of Environmental Quality in a 50-page order said there is “reasonable assurance” that the project “will not cause or contribute to a significant impairment of state waters or fish and wildlife resources.” That is contingent on the permittee complying with the state water permit.
The pipeline would stretch some 300 miles across the state. Project planners point to the vast natural gas reserves in the Appalachia basin as justification for a pipeline that could feed markets in the mid- and south-Atlantic regions in the United States.
The Appalachia basin, which includes both the Marcellus and Utica shale reservoirs, is by far the largest natural gas producer among the seven primary US shale basins.
Though the permit does not mean the project has the final approval to start operations, opponents expressed alarm.
“This is a failure of leadership at a time when many Virginians are looking to keep fossil fuel infrastructure out of Virginia,” said Jolene Mafnas, an organiser at Food & Water Watch.
Equitrans Midstream, part of the consortium behind the pipeline, said in July it was taking precautionary steps to offset the carbon impact of the project. It plans to purchase enough carbon offsets so that the project would be carbon neutral for the first 10 years of operation.
Construction on the project, first proposed in 2014, is nearly complete.