The legislation enables the Virginia DEQ to issue a stop work order if they view the pipeline as a threat to water quality
On March 17, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed two bills, SB698 and SB699, which allow the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to issue a stop work order on land-disturbing activities associated with natural gas pipeline construction if the DEQ deems them a threat to water quality. The General Assembly added an emergency clause and the bills are currently under effect.
“From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay, and all the rivers and streams in between, our water quality is of paramount importance to our health and our economy and I will protect it as long as I am Governor,” Northam said in a press release.
The new legislation is a response to water quality concerns with the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Virginia. Already, the pipelines have received numerous violations, with the most recent being the Atlantic Coast Pipeline March 16, over tree cutting and erosion. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Mountain Valley Pipeline would cross the Source Water Assessment Areas for the Western Virginia Water Authority, the city of Roanoke, the town of Rouch Mount, and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would cross the Source Water Assessment Areas for Staunton, Norfolk, and Emporia.