Richmond, Virginia, September 28, 2018: The courtroom was full as the three judges filed in from their chambers behind the bench. The bright green carpet with a perfect zig-zag pattern from a vacuum cleaner stood out.
We are Sueing the State Water Control Board
I was there to hear first hand all the arguments in four cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Jeanne and I are part of a group of plaintiffs in one of those cases, Appalachian Voices v. State Water Control Board (18-1077). All four cases involve the pipelines being built to move fracked gas through our mountains.
The Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance posted a great summary of these cases on their website.
For me, one question captured the essence of our fight against these pipelines.
“What’s that process called where ya’ll part the waters like Moses?” Judge Wynn asked one of the pipeline lawyers.
“A coffer dam, your honor,” the lawyer responded.
Dominion and the Power of God
To me, this single question captured the irony of the whole day in court and what we have been fighting for four years. It will take an act from God to build these pipelines without violating water quality standards.
The State Water Control Board and the leadership of DEQ must believe Dominion and EQT have the biblical powers of Moses to defy the elements—rainstorms, karst, landslides, and much more.
Clearly, they do not.
These pipelines should not be built and until we demand higher erosion control standards and individual permits for stream crossings water quality standards will continue to be violated.
There is no doubt in my mind that the SWCB was arbitrary and capricious when they granted 401 certifications for the MVP and ACP.
Chief Judge Gregory contributed another great statement for the day, I think he said it was a quote from Mark Twain.
“The truth is a stubborn fact.”
Ben Luckett, attorney for Appalachian Mountain Voices did an excellent job arguing our case. The facts are plain and simple. Construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are violating state water quality standards.
I had a good feeling about our day in court. I am so thankful for the research, dedication, and professionalism of the legal teams that have helped us so much. We may not know the outcome for months.
Thanks so very much, all pipeline fighters.
Petitioners for Appalachian Voices v. State Water Control Board
APPALACHIAN VOICES; CHESAPEAKE BAY FOUNDATION, INC.; CHESAPEAKE CLIMATE ACTION NETWORK; COWPASTURE RIVER PRESERVATION ASSOCIATION; FRIENDS OF BUCKINGHAM; HIGHLANDERS FOR RESPONSIBLE DEVELOPMENT; JEANNE HOFFMAN; JACKSON RIVER PRESERVATION ASSOCIATION, INC.; POTOMAC RIVERKEEPER, INC., d/b/a Potomac Riverkeeper Network; SIERRA CLUB; SHENANDOAH RIVERKEEPER, a program of Potomac Riverkeeper Network; SHENANDOAH VALLEY BATTLEFIELDS FOUNDATION; SHENANDOAH VALLEY NETWORK; VIRGINIA WILDERNESS COMMITTEE; WILD VIRGINIA; ROBERT WHITESCARVER,