LOWELL, W.Va. — Community groups will meet Tuesday evening in Summers County to discuss environmental impact caused by the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline project.
“We’re talking about 450 approximate bodies of water that are beign crossed,” Autumn Crowe of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition said Monday on “The Gary Bowden Show” on the AJR News Network. “There’s the Greenbrier River, the Buckhannon River. Several major rivers in our state are going to be impacted by this proposed project.”
Crowe said the proposed pipeline, which will cut through Wetzel, Harrison, Doddridge, Lewis, Braxton, Webster, Nicholas, Greenbrier, Fayette, Summers, and Monroe counties to transport West Virginia natural gas to out-of-state markets, has raised concerns for those who worry about the integrity of West Virginia’s rivers and streams.
“When they cross those water bodies, there’s risk for sedimentation to enter the river,” she said. “That can affect aquatic species. That can affect our trout populations. It can smother trout habitats. It can also impact our drinking water supplies.”
The route for the Mountain Valley Pipeline crosses the Buckhannon River, which provides fresh drinking water for around 9,000 people. Crowe said a number of similar projects are raising concerns.
“We have approximately seven pipelines proposed for this region, and we want to make sure that this build-out is done in a sustainable and responsible manner,” she said.
One of those projects is the Atlantic Coastal Pipeline, which earned a favorable report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the end of 2016.
“The main purpose of the pipeline is to meet the growing energy needs of public utility needs,” Dominion’s Aaron Ruby said on “The Gary Bowden Show” Monday. “In Virginia and North Carolina, you’ve got a lot of electric utilities that are replacing a lot of older coal-fire plants with new cleaner burning natural gas plants.”
Ruby said they were listening to and understand environmental concerns and have worked with federal regulators to mitigate concerns.
“You have some areas of the region that are trying to attract manufacturing and new industries, but there existing pipeline infrastructure is just fully tapped and operating at full capacity,” he said. “We need to get new infrastructure into the region so that we can bring in new supplies of cleaner burning natural gas.”
Dominion made more than 300 route adjustments while developing the route for the Atlantic Coastal Pipeline, as noted in the FERC report.
“It was a very favorable report,” Ruby said. “It essentially concluded that we have effectively minimized the environmental impacts of the project to acceptable levels, and we have put in place all the necessary measures you need to have to protect public safety.”
Tuesday night’s community meeting on the Mountain Valley Pipeline is hosted by the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Summers County Residents Against the Pipeline, and Greenbrier River Watershed Association.
The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the Graham House, a historic log cabin located on Route 3 near Lowell, WV.