Pipeline Opponents Say Environmental Protections Don't Go Far Enough

Dec 3, 2019

Environmental groups are calling on a court to reject an agreement between the state and Mountain Valley Pipeline.

The agreement announced last month is designed to step up environmental enforcement on the natural gas pipeline project. But opponents say it doesn’t go far enough to protect water and land in southwestern Virginia.

Stream crossing a timber mat bridge and the expanse of earth left open to flooding by MVP in 2018 despite widely forecast storm "Michael"
Credit R. Bondurant

The consent decree would put stricter environmental controls on the Mountain Valley Pipeline Company, compensate the state of Virginia for some, but not all previous violations, and enhance its ability to detect future infractions. Pipeline opponents applaud some of these measures but say they don’t go far enough. If the decree is adopted, the company would pay a two point five million dollar fine, instead of what could be a much higher figure, if it included each violation during the life of the project.  

“And if the company is not made to pay for environmental crimes, the company will continue to commit environmental crime.”

Roberta Bondurant is with Protect Our Water Heritage Rights or POWHR, a grassroots coalition of volunteers in the path of Mountain Valley Pipeline. “If there is no enforcement by way of monetary terms, Virginia will be ground for other companies that would set up shop here."

Mountain Valley says it has worked hard to address environmental problems such as flooding, sedimentation and erosion, which it blames on record rainfall.