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SB 950 Interstate natural gas pipelines; DEQ review, upland construction

Introduced by: Emmett W. Hanger, Jr. | all patrons    ...    notes | add to my profiles


Pipeline construction; Water Protection Permit; additional certification for upland impacts. Provides that, for the construction of certain natural gas transmission pipelines greater than 36 inches inside diameter (Pipelines), the issuance of a Virginia Water Protection Permit (VWPP) and an additional water quality certification for upland conditions shall together constitute the certification required under § 401 of the federal Clean Water Act. The bill requires the builder of a Pipeline to submit an application to the Department of Environmental Quality (the Department) describing all activities that will occur in upland areas and authorizes the Department to request certain additional information from the applicant. The bill directs the Department to determine whether any activities not addressed by the VWPP are likely to result in a discharge to state waters with the potential to adversely impact water quality and then to develop an additional certification containing any additional conditions for activities in upland areas. The bill directs the Department to prepare a public notice of such draft certification conditions and to allow for public comment. The bill requires an individual VWPP for impacts to state waters for the construction of any Pipeline and requires that each wetland and stream crossing be considered as a single project, with an individual review of each proposed water body crossing with an upstream drainage area of five square miles or greater; however, the bill requires only one individual VWPP addressing all water body crossings for each Pipeline. The bill requires that any Pipeline be constructed in a manner that minimizes impacts to state waters and protects water quality to the maximum extent practicable, including by using certain best management practices. The bill directs the State Water Control Board to exempt the construction of Pipelines from its general permits for the activities of certain utilities and public service companies and to complete its review of any individual permit application related to the construction of any Pipeline within one year. The bill also prohibits an applicant from commencing a land-disturbing activity prior to approval by the Department of an erosion and sediment control plan and stormwater management plan. Finally, the bill authorizes the Department to assess certain administrative charges in order to cover its costs.