By Bob Peckman
Peckman has a PhD in Physics and is retired from ITT. He lives in Roanoke.
In the February 17 Roanoke Times, Chris Hurst described his legislation to control future pipelines. But we have two messes to deal with now. I am speaking in detail only about the MVP, which is close enough for me to go out and personally observe, and is further along than the ACP.
• MVP has demonstrated that they blatantly disregard the rules unless they get caught and are forced to comply. How much did we citizens miss? Several similar large new pipelines have sustained explosions large enough to wipe Newport off the map. When the 737-Maxs plunged into the sea, we investigated and they are grounded until they are fixed. No one seems to care why the brand new pipelines exploded. Will it happen in Newport? Will MVP comply with the safety standards if they are not observable? Are there any safety regulations even capable of preventing this new type of pipeline from exploding? Remember, this is a place where the earth moves and pipelines don’t stretch.
• If the pipeline is completed, how will we make them maintain erosion control into the future? Fines are a pittance compared to profits. They are even more of a pittance compared to the damage that continues. Who can force MVP to maintain erosion control after the gas runs out in twenty years?
• The pipeline cuts through karst. There is nothing in place to mitigate the damage to many water supplies should there be a leak. Those water supplies are worth more than all of the fracked gas that MVP will ever deliver, and we plan to still drink water twenty years from now.
• Permits were granted very casually and immediately contested. It was the responsibility of MVP to get the permits out of the courts before starting to build. They chose building first to create a need which seems like an obligation to settle the permits in their favor. The courts are not obligated just because MVP has invested so much money.
• Even though the EIS was done totally improperly, and even illegally, it is a contract giving MVP many rights as well as requirements. They have violated their contract again and again and again. The way our protective agencies have rolled over and ignored these violations does not change anything. MVP has not held up their end of the deal and should be sent packing.
• MVP bought and delivered the pipe before the permit litigation was resolved. The pipe is supposed to be buried right away to avoid sunlight damage to the coatings. Another pressure technique: settle the permits quickly or the pipe will be damaged by the sunlight and made unsafe. Now that permits are revoked, sunlight is no problem, trust us, the pipes are safe.
• MVP was given eminent domain for public need. A private company primarily exporting a product is not public need. Virginia is committed to reducing our use of fossil fuels and current needs are being met by the pipelines we already have. The NEPA process would have exposed that. Instead FERC held a NEPA charade which ended in a final EIS which almost meets the requirements of a draft EIS. While FERC is responsible for allowing the lie of Virginia need, MVP is responsible for inventing the lie in their application, including phantom customers. They were given a sweet deal, they consistently violated their requirements, and now it is time for them to go.
• I have walked parts of the pipeline where we are not legally allowed to go. I stopped when the descending slope was too steep for safety (I climb mountains). There was erosion cloth covering the ground on the way up and the ground was eroding underneath it. The only way to control erosion here is to plant it back to trees, and that will NOT be easy.
The damage from MVP is done, but we have no obligation to let them do more. We need to deny them any new permits and send them packing. They have disgraced themselves and made fools of us. I don’t think it is possible to force them to clean up their mess, and some is beyond cleaning up. Tar and feathers are passé, but MVP must go.
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