Prove your humanity

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has issued fines to the Mountain Valley Pipeline for environmental violations. The fines total $34,000 for 29 different violations along the pipeline construction route through Virginia.

From September to November last year, inspectors discovered inadequate erosion control, impacts to wetlands and say MVP broke rules outlined in a 2019 consent decree with DEQ.

Most of the violations are for technical mistakes, like improper installation of a timber mat, and multiple cases of no secondary containments, which are used to contain sediment runoff and water from construction sites.

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David Sligh, conservation director with the group Wild Virginia, said these violations add up to a pattern of instances where mud and sediment likely ended up in water that should have been protected. He said he doesn’t think the fines are an adequate response to the pollution MVP has done to rivers, streams and wetlands.

“There’s no reason to think that a minimal fine is going to affect their behavior going forward,” said Sligh. The pipeline is projected to cost $7.6 billion, and Sligh, who previously was an employee with DEQ, said $34,000 isn’t a very stiff fine for a company of that size.

“From what I’ve seen, DEQ seems to be determined to do the bare minimum to give the appearance that they’re enforcing Virginia’s environmental laws, as opposed to truly holding MVP accountable for what they’ve done,” said Russell Chisholm, a resident of Giles County and the co-director of the Protect Our Water Heritage, Rights Coalition (POWHR).

Wild Virginia and POWHR, along with 27 other organizations, wrote DEQ director Mike Rolband a letter in February calling on DEQ to stop work along the MVP, citing the company’s repeated pollution into rivers and streams. Sligh said they haven’t yet received a response from the agency.

EQT, the company building the MVP, announced in February they plan to complete construction within the next couple of months and begin running gas through the 303-mile pipeline by June.

Radio IQ reached out to a spokesperson for the Mountain Valley Pipeline for this story, but did not receive a response from the company.