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ACTION ALERT: Water and Mountain Valley Pipeline

July 20, 2017

DON’T TOUCH MY DRINKING WATER! was the message at a press conference in Roanoke on July 18, 2017

Download this whole post as a pdf: TELL DEQ DONT TOUCH MY WATER

Your voice can make a difference! SEE DETAILS BELOW

Mountain Valley Pipeline has not yet received any of the many approvals it needs from state and federal agencies. At least two other states – Connecticut and New York – have denied water permits to natural gas pipeline proposals that received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.


The Virginia State Water Control Board under Title 9 of Virginia Code can DENY permits to Mountain Valley Pipeline if the project will “impair the beneficial uses of state waters.”

*VA Administrative Code Title 9. Environment, Agency 25. State Water Control BoardChapter 210. Virginia Water Protection Permit Program Regulation9VAC25-210-230. Denial of the VWP Permit or Variance Request.

  1. The board shall make a decision to tentatively deny the VWP permit or variance request if the requirements of this chapter are not met. Basis for denial include, but are not limited to, the following:
  2. The project will result in violations of water quality standards or will impair the beneficial uses of state waters.

…3. The project that the applicant proposed fails to adequately avoid and minimize impacts to state waters to the maximum extent practicable.

  1. The proposed compensatory mitigation plan is insufficient or unsatisfactory for the proposed impacts and fails to achieve no net loss of existing wetland acreage and function and no net loss of functions in all surface waters.

…7. The effect of project impacts, together with other existing or proposed impacts to wetlands, will cause or contribute to a significant impairment of state waters or fish and wildlife resources.

…9. The board determines that the applicant for an Emergency Virginia Water Protection Permit has not demonstrated that there is a substantial threat to public health and safety, and that normal Virginia Water Protection Permit procedures, including public comment provisions, should be followed.

Statutory Authority

  • 62.1-44.15 of the Code of Virginia; § 401 of the Clean Water Act (33 USC § 1251 et seq.).


Spring Hollow and Poor MountainMountain Valley Pipeline threatens four major drinking water sources in the Roanoke region:

  1. Western Virginia Water Authority (WVWA) ~ Spring Hollow Water Reservoir
  2. City of Salem Water ~ treatment plant that uses Roanoke River as direct source
  3. Thousands of private ground water wells in Giles, Craig, Montgomery, Roanoke, Franklin and Pittsylvania counties
  4. Regional public ground water wells (WVWA and Salem)

No one has ever built a pipeline in Virginia as large as the Mountain Valley Pipeline – 42 inches with 125-foot clearing. It would be more than twice as large as existing 3. Celanesetransmission pipelines and would  cross the Roanoke River and its tributaries over 120 times upstream from the cities of Salem and Roanoke. Yet MVP has only been required to report on the downstream impacts of a small portion of the North Fork’s drainage above Roanoke and none of the South Fork’s drainage.

  • Sedimentation: Removing all vegetation in a 125-foot right of way creates an enormous amount of runoff, especially because much of the proposed route crosses up and down slopes of 30 percent or more. Water quality & quantity can be harmed by sedimentation from erosion, including stormwater runoff. Proper upland impact studies must be conducted to determine downstream impact.
  • Chemicals: Herbicides used to manage vegetation growth, and eroded metals from exposed geology on the pipeline’s right-of-way, may contaminate water resources.
  • Water used in local breweries: local firms such as Parkway Brewery rely on public water supplies for a high quality product.
  • Storm water impacts: many sections of the Roanoke River are already “impaired” and have Total Daily Maximum Load (TDML) limits for storm water. An increase in runoff would create additional water quality and financial burdens on downstream communities.
  • Open cut crossing of Roanoke River: rather than boring underneath the Roanoke River, Mountain Valley Pipeline proposes an open cut crossing less than 2 miles above Spring Hollow Reservoir and approximately 6 miles above the public water intake for the City of Salem.
  • Bacteria: In early July 2017, the installation of a pipeline near Chester, PA punctured an aquifer causing ground water wells in the area to become contaminated with bacteria.
  • Rural water and well water pre-testing: Rural residents have little recourse if their water is contaminated by the pipeline. Local governments lack the funds to reestablish safe water The Virginia Department of Health has already expressed concerns about impacts on water. It recommends a survey be conducted for all water sources within 1000 feet on each side of the proposed pipeline right of way.
  • Blasting: Shallow bedrock along much of the route will likely require blasting during construction, which can cause unpredictable and widespread impacts on water quality and water flows throughout the region.
  • Karst: Karst topography is challenging for predicting underground water flow patterns due to the caves and channels through the limestone. Example: in 2015 the Red Sulphur Springs public water supply in West Virginia was contaminated by diesel spill on pipeline corridor ½ mile away.
  • Stability Testing: Hydrostatic testing used to test the integrity of the pipeline can cause water contamination. This is particular cause for concern given the Karst topography.
  • Leaky Pipes: All pipelines leak, with 10% of methane emissions coming from leaks per EPA. Toxic chemicals travel with natural gas and can contaminate our groundwater.


Any person who lives near the proposed pipeline route should comment on potential dangers to their water and the need for better information from a reliable source (not the pipeline company).

Anyone who lives downstream of the proposed pipeline route, should comment on potential threats to their drinking water or ground water and insist on much more complete information from a reliable source (not the pipeline company) about downstream impacts of the project on both surface and ground water.

In addition, ask that:

DEQ and the Commonwealth of Virginia suspend the comment period and all public hearings until the information necessary to consider the impacts to groundwater supplies is gathered as recommended by the Virginia Department of Health and other stakeholders. This should include:

  1. Thorough study of how much total sediment the pipeline would release into the Roanoke River across the 100 plus crossings both during and after construction, including impacts on downstream communities and their water supplies.
  2. Supplemental review of upland impacts to the Roanoke River Basin.
  3. Sanitary survey within 1000 ft on either side of the pipeline performed by specialists to ensure water sources are protected as specifically recommended by the Virginia Department of Health.
  4. Significant additional dye-testing to trace water flows throughout the pipeline’s impacted area.



The Virginia DEQ has a full webpage devoted to public comment and hearings on the Mountain Valley Pipeline. More details and past filings are available on another DEQ webpage devoted to pipeline requirements. They also have a page outlining the status of current natural gas projects and a list of all the state permits that may be required.

PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD: July 3, 2017 to August 22, 2017


Hand-delivery: DEQ, 629 East Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219

Postal mail: DEQ, P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218

Email: e-mail to:


DEQ will hold two public hearings where oral comments will be taken. Instructions for making oral comments will be provided at the public hearings. An allotment of three minutes is typical for each oral comment, but the time allowed is set by the hearing officers at the hearings. To make a written comment, the person commenting must include: 1) The names, mailing addresses and telephone numbers of the person commenting and of all people represented by that person. 2) A brief, informal statement on how the proposal affects the person or people.

  • AUGUST 8, 2017, 6:00 pm to 10 pm. RADFORD UNIVERSITY, Preston/Bondurant Auditorium, 801 East Main Street, Radford, VA 24142. Park only in Lot A (adjacent to Auditorium), or Lots E and U (University Drive bridge access to Auditorium).
  • AUGUST 9, 2017, 6:00 to 10:00 pm. CHATHAM HIGH SCHOOL AUDITORIUM, 100 Cavalier Circle, Chatham, Virginia 24531. Park only in designated areas on school property.

In addition, Delegates Greg Habeeb and Joseph Yost have worked with DEQ to schedule additional public meetings regarding the Mountain Valley Pipeline in our area (register for these meetings here). These are not public hearings. However, citizens will be able to submit written comments just as they would at a public hearing. To make a written comment, the person commenting must include: 1) The names, mailing addresses and telephone numbers of the person commenting and of all people represented by that person. 2) A brief, informal statement on how the proposal affects the person or people. Furthermore, participants will be able to ask questions of DEQ Director David Paylor and his staff. The meetings will take place at the following times and locations:



Phone: (804) 786-2078

Fax: (804) 786-7514





SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS – District 21 (Roanoke City and counties of Roanoke, Montgomery and Giles)


PO Box 1179,
Roanoke, VA 24006-1179


DELEGATE GREG HABEEB – 8th District (Salem, Roanoke County, Craig County, Montgomery County)

(540) 915-2962

PO Box 882

Salem, VA 24153

DELEGATE SAM RASOUL – 11th District (Roanoke)

(540) 904-6905

P.O. Box 13842
Roanoke, VA 24037

DELEGATE JOSEPH YOST – 12th District (Giles and part of Montgomery county)

(540) 922-8032

519 Wenonah Ave, Pearisburg, VA 24134

DELEGATE CHRIS HEAD – 17TH District (Roanoke and Botetourt counties, part of Roanoke City)

(540) 283-2839

P.O. Box 19130
Roanoke, VA 24019



 Roanoke Times report on threats to water and additional public meetings

NBC WSLS 10 – report on threats to water

Fox WFXR 21/27 –visited Parkway Brewery in Salem (erroneously reported that construction is slated to start in November)

CBS WDBJ 7 had better video than print coverage on website, where the pipeline got equal time

And they did a separate story on the Habeeb/Yost extra public meetings with DEQ

ABC WSET 13 – primarily a Lynchburg station – good to see them covering Roanoke!



Can we talk about the future of fossil fuels? With more than one informed voice?

March 30, 2017

WHAT: Social discourse on the role of fossil fuels in the face of climate change and economic reality

WHEN: Wednesday, April 26, 7-8:30 pm

WHERE: Second Presbyterian Church, Roanoke, 214 Mountain Avenue, SW, Roanoke, Va 24016

Maybe one positive outcome of the avalanche of crude, impolite, fact-challenged information threatening to bury us is the rise of many good citizens to restore civil, fact-based conversation. Katherine Fralin, Pastor George Anderson (Second Presbyterian Church, Roanoke), Suzanne Gandy, and the people at 101.5/102.5 The Mountain fm have worked very hard to put together the first in a series of forums on important topics confronting all of us.

Joe Lovett, the Executive Director of Appalachian Mountain Advocates, has been a catalyst for focusing local and national attention on the devastation caused by mountaintop removal coal mining. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School Of Law in 1995 and served as a law clerk to the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.  He has served as a lawyer in many precedent-setting cases against both industry and regulatory agencies, earning significant awards for his work on behalf of the environment and citizens of central Appalachia. And he is an engaging speaker!

Mark Dempsey, Vice President, External Affairs for Appalachian Power/AEP,  is responsible for external affairs, corporate communications, environmental affairs, economic development and customer services engineering for Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. He has been with AEP since 1972. Appalachian Power provides electricity to more than a million residential and commercial customers via 3 coal-fired power plants in West Virginia (71% of total generation);  3 natural gas powered plants in Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia (about 20% of generation); and 10 hydro or pumped storage facilities scattered through Virginia and West Virginia (about 10% of generation). The parent company, AEP, owns wind facilities in the Western United States with a generating capacity of 620 megawatts.

The program is FREE. Just bring your open mind and your civil tongue!

Church contact: 540-343-3659

Program contact: Suzanne Gandy,, 540-556-5988

Roanoke College presents: renewable energy to fill Virginia’s energy gap

February 7, 2017

VA-REA Presents the 2017 LEAD Series: Addressing Virginia’s Energy Gap

 January 16, 2017
 Leadership in Energy Advancement and Development

(LEAD) Series Forum #1

On February 28th 2017, VA-REA will host its first Leadership in Energy Advancement and Development (LEAD) series forum of 2017 in partnership with Roanoke College, in Salem Virginia

Focusing on how to fill Virginia’s electric utility – projected capacity gap* with renewable energy, the half-day event will feature two interactive panel presentations with renewable energy industry experts from around the Commonwealth, and networking opportunities with renewable energy stakeholders.

Read more…

Troubling use of police power at November 3 FERC meeting in Roanoke

November 26, 2016


(Higher quality versions of the videos may be found at the FERC Roanoke 11/3/16 Facebook page)

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – a federal government agency – did not use tear gas or water hoses at the November 3 “public” hearing about the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline in Roanoke, but they did impose troubling rules and used an undercover agent and local police to enforce them. (According to a front-page story in the Roanoke Times, approximately 200 people showed up to oppose the pipeline at this hearing and a peaceful public gathering in another part of the hotel.)

Read more…

Thursday, November 3: Make your voice heard on Mountain Valley Pipeline

October 26, 2016

WHAT: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Public Comments Session AND Community Hearing and Press Conference

WHERE: Sheraton Hotel, 2801 Hersh­berger Rd NW, Roanoke, VA 24017

WHEN:   Thursday, November 3, 2016 ~ come when you can (sign up to speak beginning at 5 PM ~ first come, first served)

  • 4:00 PM ~ Community hearing begins ~ Mnemonic Conference Theater (this room is next to the FERC hearing and will have information sheets and help on how to make comments)
  • 4:30 PM ~ Community press conference ~ Mnemonic Conference Theater (hear about the impacts of the proposed pipeline on landowners, the regional economy, and forests, trails and water
  • 5 to 8 PM ~ sign up for FERC 3-minute comments ~ present your views to a FERC staff member and a stenographer in private. FERC will hand out numbers beginning at 5 PM.
  • 5-10 PM ~ ask FERC staff members questions and share your views with them on the process that FERC is using to review the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline. According to the agency, FERC staff will be in the public waiting area to answer administrative questions about the process.

Read more…

Presentations from October 12, 2016 Forum on Natural Gas Pipelines

October 16, 2016

Over 150 people – a mix of students and community members from as far away as West Virginia – attended the October 12 Forum on Natural Gas Pipelines at Roanoke College. The full program with presenter backgrounds is here.

Dr. Richard A. Smith (Vice President and Dean of the College) and Dr. Valerie Banschbach (Professor and Chair of Environmental Studies) provided welcoming comments.

Dr. Diana Christopulos gave an overview of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, including changes since the March 9, 2015 Forum on Natural Gas Pipelines at Virginia Western Community College. This forum was intended as an update on developments since that forum. The full Draft Environmental Impact Statement from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission can be found here. Information on how to make comments on the DEIS, which are due by December 22, 2016, can be found here.

Dr. Rupert Cutler then took over as moderator, the same role he played at the March 2015 forum. After each set of presentations, the panelists answered questions from the audience.


Laura Belleville, Senior Conservation Director, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, discussed potential impacts of the project on the Appalachian Trail, especially the proposed crossing of the AT on Peters Mountain. Read more…

How to comment on the Mountain Valley Pipeline

October 12, 2016


FERC Docket CP16-10

DEADLINE: December 22, 2016

Below is a skeleton model for a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for comment for the DEIS. Be sure to:

  1. Cite the section, page #, etc. of the DEIS that you are responding to.
  2. If there are statements in the DEIS that you disagree with, you should say that—and provide evidence if possible to support your disagreement.
  3. If you have previously submitted a comment, reference it to show how the FERC failed to consider that comment.

Where can I find the DEIS? It is available for download on the FERC website:

Sending comments to FERC.  Submit to the FERC by using eComment, eFiling, or by US Mail. For all online searches in the FERC e-library be sure to use FERC Docket CP16-10. Any other number will return incorrect results or no results.

Should I send my comment to anyone else? We will provide an updated list soon. Read more…