West Virginia DEP to revisit Mountain Valley Pipeline certificat - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

West Virginia DEP to revisit Mountain Valley Pipeline certification

(WVVA) -

CHARLESTON -- The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Water and Waste Management has made an abrupt about-face regarding certification of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline. The controversial pipeline, years in development, is a $3.5 billion project that will transport natural gas from fracking fields in Wetzel County, in northern West Virginia, along a more than 300-mile route to customers in southern Virginia.

On September 7, division director Scott Mandirola sent a letter to the regulatory branch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Huntington to inform the Corps that the Section 401 Water Quality Certification issued in March has been vacated and remanded--in other words, revoked.

Mandirola explains that the action was taken to allow the Division of Water and Waste Management to determine if such a certification by West Virginia is in compliance with Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act.

Lawyers for five local, state and national citizens groups had asked a federal appeals court in June to overturn DEP's approval of a state authorization for the pipeline. The petition for review was filed with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia. And a response from DEP to the filing was due next week.

Instead, the agency has chosen to walk back its approval. A spokesman for Appalachian Mountain Advocates, the environmental law firm in Lewisburg, West Virginia, that had filed the petition on behalf of the Sierra Club, declined to explain at this time how DEP's actions might affect the petition before the 4th Circuit.

In response to an inquiry from WVVA, DEP spokesman Jacob Glance explained that after reviewing the appeal filed with the 4th Circuit, the agency decided the original approval of the pipeline certification needed further review.

"Out of an abundance of caution, and to ensure that all aspects of the potential environmental impact of the MVP are considered," wrote Glance in an email, "the WVDEP decided to vacate and remand the 401 certification. The WVDEP will act on the MVP 401 Certification as soon as that process is complete."

Glance also said a general permit for the MVP pipeline is being suspended so that the DEP can consider all the comments it received.

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