WVDEP holds public hearing

UPSHUR COUNTY, W. Va. (WDTV) -- The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection held one of its two public hearings regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline's construction stormwater permit at Buckhannon Upshur High School on Dec. 18.

Locals had a chance to speak on how this project will affect them.

"It is a robust permit," said Anne Blankenship, executive director for the West Virginia Oil & Gas Association. "It contains many measures and requirements that will protect our state's waters. It really represents years of work done by Dominion."

Officials say if the permit is approved, it will give the department authority of inspection and enforcement.

This comes after the WVDEP waived the 401 water quality certification for the ACP project, earlier this month.

However, by waiving this individual certification, they say this does not mean they will abandon its duty to protect the water quality in West Virginia.

"We've received our first certificate to build the project, now we're completing our local or state permit," said Robert Orndoff, state policy director for Dominion Energy.

The Construction Stormwater permit is required by any pipeline company, such as Dominion Energy, to obtain before starting construction.

And some locals say if the permit is approved, it will benefit the state.

"It's also about jobs here in Upshur County so people can stay," said Don Esteor.

Meanwhile, others feel concerned.

"My concern is that the permits don't require stream monitoring and those can be ordered by the director," said Abigail Benjamin, an environmental attorney

Some even say they're worried on how it will affect the future.

"Nobody is going to want to bring their kids here, their families here," said Andrew Phipps. "It's a sacrifice."

"We urge the DEP to issue a very strong permit," James Kotcon, chair of the West Virginia Sierra Club.