WV DEP, Division of Water & Waste Management- Public Pipeline Permit Meeting
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Water and Waste Management held a public meeting at Pocahontas County High School from 6 pm until 8 pm on December 21st. According to the DEP’s website, the purpose of the public meeting was to “to take comments on the draft permit that will cover the discharge of storm water during construction activities.”
The meeting was held in the school’s auditorium, and was attended by a lot of citizens from both Pocahontas County and by interested citizens and activists from other places, including one was from as far away as North Dakota. The format was simple and was explained by Jake Lance of the DEP’s Public Information Office who moderated the event. Each speaker was allotted five minutes to express their opinion. All were asked to stay strictly on the topic of the DEP’s permit for the discharge of storm water during pipeline construction, but many drifted off topic to being against the pipeline, fracking or any use of use of fossil fuels at all while others drifted off topic to expressing general support for the pipeline.
Of the 30 speakers, we counted 11 as being in support of the pipeline construction and the remainder -19- being opposed to the pipeline. Obviously time will not permit us to play for you most of these speakers, however the DEP did utilize a court reporter so that every speaker’s comments would make it into the DEP’s records. We will play portions of two interesting speakers’ comments, one for and one against the pipeline.
One of the most interesting speakers against the pipeline was a Native American originally from North Dakota.
“My name is Mato Tanka, it means Big Bear in Lakota” said Tanka. “And I understand what the lady said about jobs. Where I come from is 85% of the people are unemployed. They are not going to bring jobs, they are short temporary jobs. And I feel for you. My people are proud of ourselves and what I noticed about the people from the Appalachia area –you guys are proud of your heritage, where you come from. Letting this go through, is that worth selling your heritage out for a few dollars? Is it worth selling your family down the river? So maybe I have to move because the water is contaminated. Don’t let them do this to you. They crammed it down our throat up there at the Dakota Access Pipeline.”
Now we hear from a pro-pipeline speaker.
“My name is Ted Lewis, Geo Concepts Engineering” said Lewis. “We’re working on behalf of Dominion to conduct the karst studies and surveys for the project. We helped the conservation Fund four years ago to develop the avoidance and minimization measures for pipelines when working in areas where the Madison Cave Isopod is present. Avoidance and minimization measures were adopted by the ACP Project to protect the groundwater and protect the karst features. During construction, our firm will have full time karst geologists on site to verify that the mitigation and conservation features are being implemented.”
There were a lot of local voices also speaking out elegantly in favor of the project including Mike Holstein and Charlie Sheets while other local residents such as Tracy Hickson, John Leyzorek, Amy Scott, Nicky Alikakoss, Alan Johnson and Doug Bernier all eloquently spoke in opposition of the pipeline. Now we all await the WV Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Water and Waste Management’s decision on the permit, one of the last remaining obstacles to the pipeline construction.