State environmental regulators have opened another round of public comments on the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline.
The Department of Environmental Quality will take written comments on a limited scope — whether a review process by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is adequate to protect streams and rivers crossed by the 303-mile natural gas pipeline.
The public comment period, which will also allow comments on the same question for the similar Atlantic Coast Pipeline, began Monday and will run through May 30.
At meetings last December, the State Water Control Board granted water quality certifications for both projects, finding a “reasonable assurance” that building pipelines through the bottoms of streams and rivers would not contaminate the waterways.
But the board limited its review to so-called upland areas, leaving the Army Corps to examine individual streams and wetlands with a process that critics say is overly broad and fails to take into account factors unique to each crossing.
After repeated public complaints, the board decided at a meeting last month to solicit additional input.
Written comments should relate to technical details of stream crossing reviews, and how state and federal regulations address the issues of water quality, DEQ said in a notice of the public comment period.
Since the two buried pipelines were proposed nearly four years ago, opponents have said that digging trenches for them across steep mountain slopes and through pristine streams will dislodge sediment that will then be washed downstream, leading to contamination of private wells and public water supplies.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline will cross more than 500 streams and wetlands on its route through the Virginia counties of Giles, Craig, Montgomery, Roanoke, Franklin and Pittsylvania.
Mountain Valley has received all the state and federal approvals that it needs and says it is moving forward on construction slated to be completed by the end of the year.
After May 30, DEQ staff members will evaluate the comments and provide a summary to the water control board. It is unclear what — if any — action will then be taken by the panel of citizens appointed by the governor.
Comments may be mailed to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218, or submitted by email to NWP12InfoOnMVP@deq.virginia.gov.