Published by Blue Virginia - As public attention was focused on the destruction wrought by Hurricane Harvey and the unfolding disaster of Hurricane Irma, West Virginia dropped a bombshell on what has become a nationwide battle over fracked gas pipelines.
On September 7, West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection revoked its previous approval of the 300 mile $3.5 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline..
In a terse two sentence letter, West Virginia stated that it “hereby vacates and remands the Section 401 Water Quality Certification issued on March 23, 2017.” West Virginia provided no reason for this extraordinary action, saying only that it needed to “reevaluate the complete application.”
The Mountain Valley Pipeline would transport fracked gas from West Virginia to Virginia and is one of two fracked gas pipelines under consideration by West Virginia. The second, and much larger, project is the $5.5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would run 600 miles from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina.
Construction of these pipelines cannot proceed unless they first obtain approvals from environmental agencies in each of the affected states.
Such approvals, known as Water Quality Certifications, are required by Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. These state certifications are in addition to wholly separate approvals required from federal agencies, most notably the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)...
To describe West Virginia’s reversal on the Mountain Valley Pipeline as stunning would be an understatement.