Virginia Board OKs Stream-Crossing Permit For Gas Pipeline

Keystone XL pipeline sections sit on a train near Glendive, Mont.

A Virginia board has granted a waterbody crossing permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

The State Water Control Board voted 3-2 on Tuesday to grant a permit for the natural gas pipeline to cross about 150 streams and wetlands in southwest Virginia, The Roanoke Times reported.

The pipeline still needs a similar permit from West Virginia and federal approval.

The planned 303-mile (488-kilometer) pipeline will take natural gas drilled from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations and transport it through West Virginia and Virginia. The project has faced legal challenges from environmental groups. A 75-mile (121-kilometer) extension into central North Carolina also has been proposed.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has cited the joint venture building the pipeline with nearly 400 violations. Opponents argue that the true number is higher and will increase if crossings resume.

In its recommendation for approval, the department said most failures to control runoff did not lead to sediment reaching water bodies.

David Sligh, conservation director for Wild Virginia, called the decision “heartbreaking.”

“Yet another public agency that’s supposed to protect us and our natural treasures has failed to live up to the standards we have a right to expect,” Sligh said in a statement.