Virginia’s State Water Control Board (SWCB) has decided not to revoke Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC’s (MVP) Section 401 water quality certification (WQC) that the state issued in 2017, eliminating another element of regulatory uncertainty facing the project.
“This was a unique situation that required time to ensure the proper legal process was and continues to be followed,” SWCB Chairman Heather Wood said. “The board extensively reviewed all available options to continue enforcement and monitoring of this project to ensure compliance with the conditions of the 401 certification and protection of water quality. Any other action today would have jeopardized the commonwealth's oversight of the project.”
The SWCB made its decision on Friday at a special hearing in Richmond. By retaining the WQC, the board said it preserves “additional protections in place that would not be as strong under sole federal oversight.”
The matter was one of several legal and regulatory hurdles the project has confronted and continues to work through. The SWCB in December announced its intent to hold a hearing on the WQC. The decision came less than a week after Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring filed a lawsuit against the project for alleged environmental violations related to the Section 401 certification. The complaint cited more than 300 violations that were primarily related to improper erosion control and stormwater management.
MVP has already said it would contest the allegations in the state’s lawsuit. But the project also is battling in other federal and state courts over permitting issues and acknowledged in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing earlier this year that it faces a federal criminal investigation related to alleged violations of the Clean Water Act. Sponsors, however, continue to target a 4Q2019 in-service date.
MVP would move 2 Bcf/d of Appalachian gas from West Virginia to Virginia and connect with the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line to deliver more natural gas to Southeast markets.