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DEQ is in Giles County for Mountain Valley Pipeline Comments

Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality is holding public hearings on the potential effects on water resources by the proposed Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline.  Director David Paylor agreed to hold two additional informal hearings in communities along its route, to give people a chance to ask questions and get answers. 

With its dramatic mountains, forests and water ways, Giles County is considered a recreation Mecca.  It’s also a place where almost no municipal water is available and people rely on wells and springs.

Newport, Virginia resident Susan Edwards was the first person to speak at the two hour listening session in Giles County Thursday. She began by thanking Director Paylor for coming to the small southwest Virginia town that’s right in the path of the proposed pipeline.

But she did not hold back her criticism of the of the DEQ, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission known as ‘FERC’ or the company that seeks to build the Mountain Valley Pipeline, EQT Partners.

“The data they have submitted to FERC to support this project is filled with inaccurate and downright false information and they refuse to correct, even when they are repeatedly shown what is wrong," Edwards argued. "Why are you bullying your department’s employees to side with the corporation that will destroy what you have been mandated to protect?  Grow a pair and don’t throw us under the Army Corp of Engineer’s bus. Do your job!”

Another speaker, Tony Williams asked the gathering “do you think this Mountain Valley Pipeline enhances Virginia’s environment?”

Williams grew up in Newport. He explained, he has a spring that has supplied his family’s water for generations. He asked Director Paylor, who would be responsible for identifying those underground springs.

"The water crossings are (already) identified in the application," Paylor told Williams.  "So they have been identified.”

Williams responded “Alright, well I have a deeded water right for my property and no one has contacted me in regard to any water crossings or anything.  So that’s why I was asking. “

Williams explained, that’s why he doubts the process can adequately protect anyone’s water. In his reply.  Paylor referenced the reason for this series of hearings: determining whether in fact reasonable assurances can be made that waters can be protected during and after pipeline construction. “

Virginia Delegates Greg Habeeb and Joseph Yost urged DEQ to hold the additional hearings about the Mountain Valley Pipeline, in locations along its proposed route. If approved, it would run through their districts.  Another was held in Roanoke Thursday evening.

DEQ will continue to accept comments about the proposed natural gas pipelines’ potential impact on water quality in the state, through Aug. 22.

Robbie Harris is based in Blacksburg, covering the New River Valley and southwestern Virginia.