The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) Friday filed an appeal of the Virginia State Water Control Board’s water quality certification for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
CBF has long been concerned about the serious threats to water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed posed by the proposed pipeline. The petition for review, filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, is the first step in the appeal, which is anticipated to address many issues related to the protection of water quality.
“The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has the potential to damage Virginia waterways from the Allegheny Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay, so its construction and operation must be held to the strictest environmental standards possible,” said CBF Vice President for Litigation Jon Mueller. “We have always maintained that the Water Control Board cannot have reasonable assurance that water quality will be protected unless it evaluates the adequacy of the pipeline company’s plans to prevent construction-caused erosion, dirty stormwater, and other impacts.”
In December, when the Water Control Board took steps to certify the project, it had not reviewed these materials, and it remains unclear today whether or not such a review will occur before the certification takes effect.
CBF Board of Trustee member Jeanne Hoffman and her husband Bobby Whitescarver, who live on a farm near the pipeline’s proposed path in Augusta County, have joined CBF as plaintiffs in the petition.
“The pipeline is a major risk for the drinking water supplies of thousands of people here,” Whitescarver said. “We’re in the middle of the widest and most active karst geology region in Virginia. Blasting during pipeline construction opens up fractures in the rock that water flows into, which has the potential to dry up wells and springs.”
Given the many threats to clean water in Virginia, it is essential that the risks posed by the pipeline are properly evaluated and addressed. This can only be done when the Board is able to review all of the relevant materials.