Letters to the Editor,
If Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) explodes around karst-ridden Dixie Caverns’ area, it could greatly harm or burn up critical infrastructure: I-81, US 460, the railroad and also affect the integrity of Spring Hollow Dam (Salem’s emergency Plan B water source holds 3.3-billion gallons while Salem’s “reservoir” overlooking Salem’s Civic Center is merely 2.5 million gallons which at most could supply Salem a few days.)
An MVP explosion near Dixie Caverns could turn I-81 into a no-man’s land – clogging up Salem’s 4th and Main Streets for unacceptably long reconstruction periods of main North-South thoroughfares.
Council’s October 25 Resolution 1413 was not what concerned citizens asked council to do. Additionally, the cover letter accompanying Salem’s recent opportunity to weigh in on a new MVP permit failed to give meaningful context to the fact that that both state and federal agencies have failed to prevent vast environmental and water resource damage (with far worse future damage to Salem’s water if MVP is given another stream-crossings permit).
Neither DEQ, the Army Corps of Engineers ACE nor MVP ever listened to Salem’s 2017 valid preconstruction concerns, which should have been mentioned in Council’s important cover letter for the resolution–giving Salem a chance to say that the pipeline should not receive a new permit as spelled out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommendation to the permitting ACE federal agency if VA again transfers its water quality authority to them.
MVP saved upland construction for last. That is where MVP is currently installing toxic-coated pipes that will never come out of the ground in Roanoke River’s uplands–the steepest and most unstable part of the entire pipeline, where MVP will have to blast all the way across the plateau in a complex and fragile perched aquifer–the very source of our Roanoke River’s watershed and headwaters.
Salem’s 2017 resolution did nothing to prevent MVP’s over 200 documented violations in AG Herring’s consent decree. All scientific and expert warnings over which concerned citizens labored for days and weeks were ignored. Also, science, which can predict future outcomes to avoid environmental harms, was absent from the original MVP permit and construction. Now, the chickens are coming home to roost with landslides, massive erosion and destruction of pristine Appalachian streams and landscapes. Everything should be done to prevent this rattletrap MVP from carrying highly-compressed gas – especially near such critical infrastructure.
Council should visibly escalate action to protect their constituents’ safety, water security and MVP harms that in no way justify MVP’s unacceptably-high environmental harms that will haunt Salem’s future high quality-of-life and cost Salem dearly while MVP offers Salem only environmental degradation and economic burdens with zero tax benefits – only higher heating costs for us Roanoke Gas captive ratepayers, when Salem already pays the highest gas heating prices in the Valley.
Please protect Salem from an unneeded nightmare project that will endure for decades and occupy Council’s governance instead of leaders devoting full time to continuously improve Salem as we see on our revised Main Street.
We don’t need to live next to an explosive MVP bomb requiring that we pray for safety every time we drive across I-81, US-460 or other MVP-crossed thoroughfares exposing us to MVP’s one-mile-wide incineration zone, where emergency personnel in Bent Mountain warned landowners that they were advised to “just let it burn.” The way for Council to do that is by speaking most effectively and visibly to protect our water.
- Nora Smith
Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) imminently threatens excessive future harms to Salem’s clean water that, without exception, all Salem citizens want protected. If MVP gets a brand-new valid water-crossings permit under our Clean Water Act (CWA) (as MVP currently requests), MVP will continue construction across Bent Mountain, causing untold devastating clean water destruction from MVP’s excessive 130+ upstream crossings in Roanoke River alone.
Salem leaders must pay attention to securing clean water and use their standing as leaders of our downstream 25,000 population community by speaking up to protect clean water in MVP’s Roanoke River high-impact zone. That matters.
It is likely that MVP’s pipes will soon be abandoned. Recent historic agreement to reduce U.S. methane emissions between the U.S. and China resulted in one hundred countries signing the US-backed Pledge to collectively slash methane emissions by a drastic 30 percent by 2030. MVP’s fracked gas is all methane. MVP isn’t in the public’s or the world’s interest.
Salem’s water treatment plant director, Laredo Robinson, states that he can use finer filters to remove MVP sediment, but why should Salem take on that additional, externalized expense running Salem’s excellent water treatment plant? I also asked if water treatment could remove radioactive toxins. He did not know while a radioactive-laden watershed may be in our future.
Salem Council’s November 8 meeting deserves explanation. Concerned citizens used their five minutes to explain why passing Council’s October 25 resolution did not protect clean water and could even be harmful. Council did not take the strongest action to protect clean water.
On October 25, Council was asked to endorse EPA’s letter to the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) recommending non-approval of MVP’s new Clean Water Act permit for not meeting clean water requirements. Former Mayor, Councilman Foley, surprised Council suggesting instead that Council re-submit his 2017 Resolution 1324–first submitted during MVP’s initial Virginia 2017 permitting (concerning whether Virginia would pass its clean water protection responsibility to the federal Army Corps of Engineers (ACE). Virginia’s Waterboard did so and more rubberstamping followed.
At Council’s October 25 meeting, former Mayor – now Councilman Foley – proposed a surprise alternative to endorsing EPS’s opposition to MVP’s new Clean Water Act permit by resubmitting a dated 2017 resolution. Council unanimously approved that–re-numbering it: 1413 from 1324 that contains two provisions that could significantly increase Roanoke River muddying due to excessive cumulative water impacts for Salem alone.
- Cynthia Munley