Environment and Outdoors

State environmental officials have issued a “Notice of Violation” to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, alleging improper tree felling near rivers and streams. This is one of two pipelines approved for pre-construction work across parts of Virginia, and current permits do allow tree felling. But the Department of Environmental Quality says those permits do not currently cover areas close to waterways.

News release: RICHMOND, VA. – The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (ACP) on March 16, 2018, for failing to maintain adequate limits of disturbance during tree felling operations in violation of Virginia’s State Water Control Law. These limits forbid work within buffer zones to protect stream and wetland crossings during pipeline development, and are instrumental to the protection of Virginia’s environment and natural resources. The NOV identifies violations on 15 separate sites resulting in an estimated 0.84 acres in impact to wetlands and streams. “DEQ is watching pipeline activities closely and expects full compliance with all conditions,” said David K. Paylor, Director. “We will not hesitate to initiate enforcement actions like this to make sure the project complies with good environmental standards.”

The NOV requires ACP representatives to contact DEQ within 10 day to discuss how to remedy the situation and explain how they will prevent future violations. While limited tree felling is allowed, the activity cannot impact riparian areas. Furthermore, land disturbance cannot begin until all of the erosion and sediment and stormwater control plans required for all sections of the project are approved by DEQ. “The agency’s review of the project has been the most thorough in the history of the Commonwealth, and the enforcement will be as rigorous,” said Director Paylor.
The issuance of an NOV is the first step in triggering enforcement action by DEQ. Enforcement actions are frequently resolved with payment of a civil charge and required action to correct the violation. A copy of the NOV can be obtained on DEQ’s webpage www.deq.virginia.gov.

The 600-mile underground Atlantic Coast Pipeline originates in West Virginia and travels through Virginia and North Carolina. The pipeline is being developed jointly by Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company Gas. Though the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has independent authority over many of the procedures related to federal pipeline development, DEQ is able to exercise enforcement authority over many aspects of the project.

Opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline say the recent string of regulatory and court rulings in favor of construction have not deterred them from continuing their resistance. And they promise it will continue. Opponents held several rallies across the region last night to support activists still opposing the pipeline — and the landowners still battling eminent domain. WFIR’s Evan Jones has more:

03-16 Pipeline Protests Wrap1-WEB


SALEM – With winter weather anticipated to impact portions of western Virginia, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is advising drivers to plan ahead for travel as they may face slick, snow-covered roads, particularly during the nighttime hours on Sunday, March 11 and Monday, March 12.

VDOT strongly urges drivers to monitor weather forecasts and adjust travel around periods of snowfall, particularly early in the storm when roads can become snow covered and slick.

As the storm progresses, temperature will be a key factor with this winter weather event, as the precipitation is expected to start out as rain and transition to snow.

As pavement temperatures cool, snow is anticipated to accumulate on roadways.  When the snow starts, drivers should pay particular attention to bridges and overpasses which may become slick first.

The interstate and primary roads (those numbered 1-599) are VDOT’s top priority for snow removal during a weather event.   As long as the snow continues to fall, snowplow operators will be making multiple passes over these main routes and not working on low-volume secondary routes (those numbered 600 and above) or neighborhood streets.

Travelers can get real-time information on road conditions, traffic incidents and congestion on Virginia roads by using VDOT’s 511 free mobile app or the www.511Virginia.org website and phone system, which can help travelers plan their routes accordingly.

The Salem District includes the counties of Bedford, Botetourt, Carroll, Craig, Floyd, Franklin, Giles, Henry, Montgomery, Patrick, Pulaski, and Roanoke.

A new art exhibit on the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Roanoke shows community meetings, jars of water from different streams, and pamphlets that point to both Governor Ralph Northam and former Governor Terry McAuliffe as “water terrorists.” Neither of the Democrats has opposed the natural gas pipeline. “Rising Pressure: A Community’s Fight Against the Mountain Valley Pipeline” is at the Aurora Studio Center until the end of March. That’s near the corner of 1st and Campbell Ave. in downtown Roanoke.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Authorities in Virginia say a man and a six-year-old boy have died after being injured by falling trees as a nor’easter brought gusty winds to the state.

Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency Friday afternoon, as the storm pounded the East Coast, also packing heavy rain and intermittent snow further north.

In James City County, police said one man died after wind toppled a tree onto a vehicle.

In Chester, local media report a 6-year-old boy died after a tree fell on his home.

The wind also led to widespread power outages, prompted school closures, snarled traffic and closed bridges.

Hundreds of flights were also canceled at airports throughout the region.