Pipeline foes gather near deq’s regional office in roanoke for prayers, protest business roanoke.com electricity quiz and answers


Ricky Smithers, pastor of Crossroads Community Church on Bonbrook Mill Road, said his attempts to talk to some parishioners about their spiritual lives have been pre-empted by their need to discuss fears about the pipeline. He decried the potential for a private company to wield the power of eminent domain to acquire easements across private properties.

The gatherings are happening as the department weighs what its recommendations will be to the State Water Control Board regarding the award of water quality certification to the projects. Each would bury a 42-inch diameter pipeline to transport natural gas at high pressure.

Organizers announced the protests just before Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas and Hurricane Irma began forming near the Cape Verde Islands. During the Roanoke protest, participants linked the powerful storms to climate change and observed a moment of silence for those who’d lost homes and loved ones.

McAuliffe has voiced consistent support for the two pipeline projects. He and other supporters have said the natural gas transported by the interstate pipelines will stimulate economic development, provide a cleaner fuel than coal for power generation, lure new manufacturers, augment the nation’s quest for energy independence and offer other benefits.

Mike Tidwell is director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, which helped organized the DEQ protests. Tidwell, who participated in Wednesday’s rally in Roanoke, has asserted that the two natural gas transmission pipelines would intensify fracking and related pollution in the Appalachian Basin; increase emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas; threaten water quality and cause profound environmental damage along their routes while enabling continued reliance on fossil fuels at the expense of investment in renewable energy.

Tidwell has said that if the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast projects move forward, McAuliffe will be remembered as a governor whose embrace of the pipelines helped worsen climate change, boosting the prospect of increased coastal flooding from sea level rise and the potential of catastrophic storms.

Opponents have noted that New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation has denied water quality certification permits for two major natural gas pipeline projects, alleging their construction would violate state water quality standards. In August, a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld New York’s denial of water quality certification sought by the Constitution Pipeline.

“We have known and argued to Virginia officials for over two years that they had all the authority they needed to demand necessary information and deny certification unless compliance with water quality standards is assured,” Sligh said in August.

On Wednesday, Angela Navarro, Virginia’s deputy secretary of natural resources, noted that McAuliffe’s support for the pipelines has been accompanied by his desire that state agencies vetting the projects perform robust reviews. She noted that DEQ is an independent agency whose recommendations to the State Water Control Board will reflect the department’s unprecedented analysis of potential impacts to water quality.