Crowd Packs Morgan Co. Hearing on Eastern Panhandle Pipeline
About a hundred Eastern Panhandle residents came out January 9 for a public hearing hosted by WV Department of Environmental Protection on the water quality permit application by Mountaineer Gas for the Eastern Panhandle Pipeline Expansion. The purpose of the hearing was to allow the public to comment on the draft permit that will cover the discharge of stormwater during construction activities.
Attorney Abigail Benjamin provided technical comments on behalf of West Virginia Rivers Coalition. WV Rivers staff was there distributing talking points to local residents.
Benjamin joined nearly three dozen residents and community leaders in asking WVDEP to deny the application. “This current permit must be denied by the WV DEP due to its many deficiencies,” said Benjamin. “This permit application is missing critical safety contingency plans and other important information required by WVDEP and thus fails to adequately comply with the terms of the permit.”
The deficiencies WV Rivers cited in the permit include:
Mountaineer Gas Company’s application for the EP Pipeline does not meet the requirements for the WVDEP Oil & Gas Construction Stormwater General Permit.
Final mitigation or avoidance measures of geologically sensitive karst areas are not included in the application.
Site-specific designs for stream crossing methods are not included in the application. Open cut crossings and underground boring is proposed, but the open cut method is not specified and there is no contingency plan for underground borings.
No descriptions of stream bank restoration and stabilization are included in the application. Restoration plans for stream crossings must be included.
The inspection frequency is not as stringent as other pipeline projects within the state. Inspections after 0.25 inch rain event should be required.
Some commenters offered heart wrenching stories, like a farmer whose family land is being taken by eminent domain. Among the property rights abuses her family has been subjected to, she reported that the family is liable for property taxes on land they cannot use.
Others providing comments include Cam Trowbridge of the Opequon Creek Project Team; Sleepy Creek Watershed Association’s Chuck Marsh, Frank Rodgers of Cacapon Institue, Upper Potomac Riverkeeper Brent Walls, and Laura Steepleton of the Eastern Panhandle Protectors.