Waters remain muddy for Mountain Valley Pipeline’s stream crossings

Laurence Hammack

The route a natural gas pipeline will take to cross hundreds of streams and wetlands in Southwest Virginia has grown even murkier.

As part of a rewriting of a federal permitting process, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality said last month that it would deny future water quality certifications for pipelines more than 36 inches in diameter under the so-called Nationwide Permit 12.

That could possibly apply to Mountain Valley Pipeline, which is currently building a 42-inch diameter pipeline that would pass through the New River and Roanoke valleys.

But the proposed change in state regulations would not immediately affect the company, which is currently embroiled in a separate legal challenge to its stream-crossing permits brought by environmental groups. Mountain Valley has said it may bypass the Nationwide Permit 12 process by pursuing other options.

“I don’t think that we can necessarily trust that the new certification would have any impact on MVP,” said David Sligh, conservation director of Wild Virginia, one of the groups fighting Mountain Valley in court.

Last September, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued new stream-crossing permits for the pipeline, after the original ones were struck down in 2018 by a federal appeals court. The same environmental groups that filed the first challenge then brought a second legal attack.

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