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Mountain Valley pipeline permit suspension lifted

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World Pipelines,

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection announced yesterday that the state has waived the requirement that the controversial pipeline project obtain Clean Water Act 401 water quality certification in West Virginia.

West Virginia environmental regulators have lifted their suspension of the permit for building the Mountain Valley pipeline.

West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection first issued the water quality certification in March, following public hearings and review of the projected impact on the state’s waters.

In June, five citizen groups asked a federal appeals court to overturn the state approval. In September, the DEP vacated its approval to re-evaluate the application and determine whether it complied with the federal Clean Water Act.

WVDEP Cabinet Secretary Austin Caperton, who heads the department, said yesterday that as a result of the review and public comments, they have changed their approach. “Our agency developed a revised strategy that will better utilise the state stormwater permit to provide significantly stronger safeguards for the waters of West Virginia,” he said.

The state also has decided chosen to waive its individual certification for the pipeline under the federal Clean Water Act. The DEP noted that US Army Corps of Engineers recently reissued its nationwide permit, with provisions that are specific to West Virginia, saying it will allow for better enforcement capabilities and enhanced protection for West Virginia waters.

“This is a case where the public review and comment system worked especially well,” stated Caperton. “This summer, after months of diligent work, WVDEP put forth for public review and comment a draft certification and permit for the MVP pipeline. As a result of some of the issues that were included in those public comments, our agency developed a revised strategy that will better utilize the state stormwater permit to provide significantly stronger safeguards for the waters of West Virginia.”

As proposed, the pipeline would transport natural gas at high pressure through a buried, 42 in. diameter steel pipe. The 303 mile, US$3.7 billion project would begin in Wetzel County, West Virginia, and terminate at the Transco pipeline in Pittsylvania County in Virginia.

In an email Wednesday, Natalie Cox, a spokeswoman for Mountain Valley Pipeline, said:

“Today’s announcement by the WVDEP reinforces West Virginia’s commitment to protecting the state’s waterbodies,” noting that stormwater permitting requirements will increase assurance that “MVP construction activities will be conducted in a manner that will preserve and protect waterbodies along the route.”

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