In her commentary published February 3, former Virginia State Water Control Board member Roberta Kellam stated that “In response to my inquiries about site conditions, I was repeatedly told by [Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)] Director David Paylor that the local residents are ‘untruthful’ and their photographs were ‘misleading.’ When I further questioned Director Paylor about apparent water quality impacts, he accused me of ‘working for the opposition.’” The Director of a regulatory agency meant to protect its citizens who called those citizens “the opposition” was then overwhelmingly reconfirmed by the Virginia Senate and House. What happened to the goal of working together across all congressional districts for a better Virginia?

Director Paylor’s remarks show disrespect for local residents he is sworn to protect. Mountain Valley Watch is comprised of dozens of citizen scientists and professionals who monitor construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Their photographs and videos of erosion control failures in Southwest Virginia were not doctored, edited, or “misleading.” They represent the truth of the harms occurring to our water -- harms that citizens warned would occur when DEQ and the Board considered the permit in December 2017.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Mr. Paylor seems more concerned about the existence and sources of these photos than he is about the construction failures they expose: the contractor is allowing sediment to flow freely into Virginia’s streams and rivers. The lawsuit from the Attorney General’s office citing over 300 violations corroborates citizens’ documentation. The pictures are real, Mr. Paylor. No one faked them.

Mr. Paylor’s remarks concerning citizens’ truthfulness make us question his integrity, honesty and ability to lead a state agency. Virginians deserve a well-funded Department of Environmental Quality fully staffed with public servants who view citizens as their partners, not their enemies.

RUSSELL CHISOLM

JASON SHELTON

KIRK BOWERS

LYNDA MAJORS

MOUNTAIN VALLEY WATCH

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