Open letter to DEQ


When I was growing up, government began correcting environmental disasters from America’s industrialization. The EPA cleaned up our water and air.

Superfund sites were identified and funded for cleanup. But that began to change when the G.W. Bush administration met with energy companies privately and exempted fracking from the federal clean air and water acts. Even the Supreme Court said that citizens couldn’t know who was at that meeting making public energy policy that exempted hydraulic fracturing from clean air and water laws. Government had reversed course.

Instead of cleaning and protecting resources, different government branches were secretly and openly converging to instead, protect the emerging fracking industry from environmental laws. It’s a dirty business all along the way but we must still protect our streams and water quality.

Southwest Virginia is home to some of the most diverse plant life and oldest mountains whose unique ecosystem, pristine Jefferson National Forest and karst terrain need protection. The MVP will cross 67 miles of karst landscape of sinkholes, caves, springs and easily-contaminate underground aquifers highly vulnerable to a 42-in, 2000 pounds per-square-inch-pressurized pipeline. MVP will explode somewhere at some time.

What happens WHEN—not IF it does? How will the explosion, gas and fire that enters our underground karst system affect underground springs, caves and sinkholes?  It is not possible to protect our clean water from sediment and chemical contamination if MVP is allowed to cross a phenomenal 1,108 streams.

Clean water is life. I live in Salem. We pull our water directly from the Roanoke River. Because MVP will cross the watershed for the headwaters of the Roanoke River, Salem’s water is most at risk for contamination. I do all I can so my family can eat clean and drink clean water. But the MVP’s 110-foot initial right-of-way will push sediments into our streams and its permanent 50-foot right-of-way will continually spread chemical herbicides into our watershed and streams. Tainted water also assaults our local economy. Salem has a craft brewery—Parkway Brewery, but it needs clean water. A large meat-packing facility will be repurposed and marketed to microbreweries. We urgently need to be capable of honestly touting our valley’s clean water to develop this sustainable job-producing local business.

Because our health and economy require clean water, please do your job as the Department of Environmental Quality by:

  1. Analyzingthe water quality and health impacts of individual streams and wetlands by

construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

  1. Recommendationstowards the Department of Health to protect groundwater and drinking water will require a complete sanitary survey within 1000 feet of the pipeline on either side of the pipeline and dye testing of any karst areas that Mountain Valley Pipeline proposes to cross.
  2. Suspending the comment period on DEQ’s draft 401 water qualitycertification until the agency has reviewed and performed this analysis and made the results available to the public for review.
  3. Afterthe comment period for the certifications is reinstated, hold additional public hearings  in communities affected by pipeline construction and operation.
  4. Denypermits to noncomplying applicants.

Please follow your own rules. Your job is to protect our water—not the Fracking industries or politicians with agendas.



Cynthia Munley