Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate Extension: proposed pipeline to transport fracked gas through Alamance and Rockingham counties
The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) is a 303 mile pipeline being constructed to carry fracked gas from West Virginia into Virginia. MVP is working to get approval for an extension of that pipeline that will take it an additional 70 miles from southern Virginia into central North Carolina. The addition, the MVP Southgate project, will cut through Rockingham and Alamance counties, ending at a point just south and east of Graham, below 1-85-40.
|In August 2020, NC Department of Environmental Quality denied MVP Southgate’s permit for the 401 application, which would allow them to cross streams. The permit was denied on several claims, but the main point was arguing that the MVP mainline may never be completed.|
NCDEQ’s hearing officer recommended that the permit remain denied outright, or that “construction of the MVP Southgate pipeline (and its corresponding impacts) cannot occur until all legal ambiguities presently surrounding the mainline pipeline have been resolved, and all necessary permits and authorizations have been obtained.” Thanks to the work of our partners in Virginia and West Virginia, the list of legal ambiguities continues to grow!
MVP Southgate challenged this decision, stating that NCDEQ does not have the authority to make its decision based on the viability of the MVP mainline project. Southern Environmental Law Center(SELC) and Appalachian Mountain Advocates(AppalMad) intervened on behalf of NCDEQ to defend the permit denial decision. SELC and AppalMad are representing Haw River Assembly, Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices, Center for Biological Diversity, and several impacted landowners through our organizations. The oral arguments between NCDEQ and MVP Southgate will be heard by the Office of Administrative Hearings on January 26th.
Following that hearing, a decision will likely be made in the next three months. This is a bureaucratic process that will likely be more drawn out that usual due to COVID precautions and delays.
Public Comments on MVP Southgate Compressor Station in Virginia
The proposed compressor station for the MVP Southgate extension in southern Virginia is up for review and public comment until March 10th. There will be a virtual public hearing on February 8th. Information on submitting comments
to VA DEQ: https://www.deq.virginia.gov/permits-regulations/public-notices/air
Some Quick Facts:
– Proposed compressor station would be located in a historic African American community. Environmental Justice impacts and analysis have not be conducted. The impacted community has not been included in the process.
– Mike Dowd of the Air Quality permitting division in Virginia has questioned whether the permit should be denied solely on the fact that NC DEQ has rejected the permits.
– Site suitability and cumulative impacts were repeatedly questioned at the information session on January 7th.
MVP Southgate’s 401 permit has been denied!
The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) is a 303 mile pipeline being constructed to carry fracked gas from West Virginia into Virginia. MVP is working to get approval for an extension of that pipeline, MVP Southgate, that will take it an additional 70 miles from southern Virginia into central North Carolina. If approved, the MVP Southgate project will cut through Rockingham and Alamance counties, ending at a point just south and east of Graham, below 1-85-40.
Haw River Assembly first learned about MVP Southgate in April of 2018. At this point, we held community meetings and sent mailings to every home along the proposed route. Neighbors started talking to each other and refusing access to surveys for the project. As a coalition of landowners, impacted community members, and environmentalists, we presented and gave public comment at every town and county commissioners meeting along the proposed route. Through this work, every town and county was made aware of their rights and heard the voices of their communities saying “we don’t want or need this project.” Alamance county unanimously signed a resolution to oppose the project, as did several towns along the route.
In early August of 2020, NC Department of Environmental Quality denied the 401 permit, which is the permit necessary to cross streams.
The permit was denied outright, meaning there were no conditions under which MVP Southgate could make corrections and resubmit. NCDEQ’s denial letter focused predominantly on the failures of the MVP mainline.
“Division staff have determined the Southgate project’s sole utility and purpose is tied to and wholly relies on the completion of the entire Mainline project,” DEQ’s letter reads. “The uncertainty of the MVP Mainline Project’s completion presents a critical risk to the achievability of the fundamental purpose of MVP Southgate,” it continued.
Most of the environmental harm would occur during construction, the division wrote, adding that it “finds it is inappropriate to unnecessarily risk impacting high-quality waters and drinking water supplies of North Carolinians.”
MVP Southgate has appealed the denial decision.Theoretically, if MVP mainline gets their permits and legal challenges resolved, MVP Southgate could reapply. The mainline is currently under a stop work order and faces several legal challenges. Additionally, this denial of the Southgate permit makes the mainline permit less profitable with an uncertainty of delivery and increased capacity.
This uncertainty around the worthiness of investing vast sums of money in a project that suffers from progressively decreasing certainty of success (and profit returns) is what killed the ACP. It can kill the MVP too.
On October 9, Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) was given another two years to complete a natural gas pipeline already marked by six years of community opposition, environmental damage, legal fights and delays. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also lifted a stop- work order for all but a 25-mile segment of the interstate transmission line that includes the Jefferson National Forest and adjacent land. (Roanoke Times)
On October 16, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals imposed a temporary stay on MVP’s Nationwide 12 permits that had been requested by the Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices and other environmental groups battling the 303-mile mainline project through West Virginia and Virginia.
“It’s a setback for the pipeline, which had been given the go-ahead last week to resume construction after a months long delay by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as well as receiving the key permits it needed. One of those permits, the so-called Nationwide 12 permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, is at issue in this temporary stay while a full stay is considered.” (Pittsburgh Business News)
A Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) regarding MVP’s permit to cross national forests was recently posted in the Federal Register, initiating a 45 day comment period, ending November 9. The SEIS is used to determine whether or not a project, in this case the Mountain Valley Pipeline, can be permitted to cross a national forest. To comment or sign on to comment petitions visit POWHR’s How-To Comment Guide.
The Mountain Valley Watch needs volunteers to monitor construction and review aerial images. Sign up through the MVWatch Volunteer Interest Form. A virtual training is planned for November 1 and information will be sent to the volunteer list and posted on the MVWatch Facebook page.
There have been multiple publications citing the lack of need for additional pipeline infrastructure and fossil fuel sources in North Carolina and across the southeast. North Carolina is one of the leading states in solar power, and Gov. Cooper’s Executive Order 80 commits us to lowering Greenhouse Gas emissions to 40% below 2005 levels. New pipeline projects do not fall within that commitment.
Federal judge upholds ban on process for permitting pipelines, including Mountain Valley
Environmentalists have argued for years that the Army Corps’ process, called a Nationwide Permit 12, takes a “blanket approach” that does not adequately assess a pipeline’s crossing of each stream or wetland in its path.
“Constructing pipelines through rivers, streams and wetlands without analyzing the impacts on imperiled species is unconscionable, and we will continue to fight to protect vulnerable species, our waters and the climate from such reckless development,” Jared Margolis, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.
How this Pipeline Poses Threats to our Environment and Communities
The extractive process of fracking is destructive to land, air, and water quality in many ways, but the transport of the fracked gas also poses threats to downstream communities. In the construction process of pipelines, easements must be cleared of all trees and plants, exposing the disturbed land to erosion and causing sedimentation in streams. In-stream sedimentation not only carries nutrients and chemicals into the water, but the sediments themselves drown sensitive wildlife habitats in nearby streams. The MVP Southgate proposed route must cross several streams and tributaries. In order to do this, ditch lines are often blasted through rock and streams to lay the pipe. Streams are then dammed up and rerouted during trench construction, or drills cut a route under the stream using hydraulic motors and jet nozzles. Both of these processes destroy stream habitat. Potential leaks in pipes pose ongoing threats to water quality for downstream users. Fracked gas is also highly explosive. Recent explosions have caused serious injuries and destroyed homes. By allowing this pipeline into our communities, we are tying ourselves to decades of fossil fuel use, resulting in high methane emissions and heightening our effect on climate change.
Effects on the Haw
Are you a landowner who has been contacted by Mountain Valley Pipeline or Doyle Land Surveying?
Know your rights. You have the right to say NO. Your ability to refuse to negotiate and require the energy companies to use eminent domain is one of the most powerful statements you can make to protect your land. It gives you the most influence afforded to you by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The pipeline company does NOT have the right of eminent domain until they have been issued a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from FERC. Surveyors do not have the right to be on your private property without your permission.
Click here for more information about what your rights are as a property owner.
- Pipeline extension from Mountain Valley Pipeline mainline in Pittsylvania County, VA.
- 70 miles of pipeline through Rockingham and Alamance County mostly in the Haw River watershed
- Size of pipeline is could be up to 24” in diameter.
- Pipeline will require 100’ of easement during construction,and a 50′ permanent easement.
- Route will run adjacent to the Haw in many areas, cutting across sensitive streams and tributaries.
- Destination is east of Graham and south of I-40-85
- “Fracked” shale gas running through pipelines is sourced from the Utica and Marcellus shale fracking operations in WVA and PA, and is owned by PSNC.
- Pre-filing permit processes will begin in May 2018. MVP will then hold community open houses though the route corridor to “identify and resolve environmental issues.”
- MVP aims to begin construction by 2020.
This is a long fight, so let’s not forget the progress we’ve made!
- Alamance County commissioners signed a unanimous resolution to oppose the pipeline project
- Elon University student government signed a resolution to oppose the pipeline project
- Stoneville signed a resolution to oppose the project
- NC DEQ wrote a critical letter of the project, stating they saw no demonstrated need
- Every local government body along the proposed route in Alamance County has heard a presentation or public comments from us in opposition of the pipeline project.
- NCDEQ rejected MVP Southgate’s first attempt to apply for the 401 certificate.
- City of Burlington writes critical comments to oppose the project
- 39 state legislators sign a letter to oppose the project
- Over 30 people turn out to speak in November 2019 against MVP’s second attempt to get a 401 certification for stream crossing impacts. (We expect to hear in February what NCDEQ decides)