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North Carolina Denies 401 Cert. in a Pipeline Case

The North Carolina Dept. of Environmental Quality today denied cert. for the Mountain Valley Pipeline Project. The reason for cert. denial was the connecting pipeline in Virginia may not go forward, which would render the Mountain Valley pipeline unneeded. The Dept. stated that it did not want to risk adverse effects to water quality for a pipeline that may not go into operation. "Certification of this project, without further confidence that it can achieve its stated purpose, is inappropriate and allows for avoidable environmental impacts to water quality and protected riparian buffers." This is the latest in a series of pipeline project cert. denials by blue states. Here is a link to the denial letter: https://files.nc.gov/ncdeq/pipelines/2018-1638v3-MVP-Southgate---Rockingham-Alamance---Denial.pdf


It is worth noting that the denial was issued on August 11, 2020, and the application arrived at DEQ on August 13, 2019, so they denied just under the one-year deadline set out in section 401 of the CWA. The newly finalized 401 cert. rule by the Trump administration, which become effective on Sept. 11 (unless stayed by a court), would shorten that timeline, perhaps by a lot. See new 40 CFR 121.6, 85 Fed. Reg. 42,210, 42,285 (July 13, 2020). Can states make meaningful calls on complex transboundary pipeline projects in just a few months, even assuming that the application is complete?



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