After months of pressure from local landowners and environmental groups, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced yesterday that it will require both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline to undergo individual 401 water quality certifications. These certifications assess whether or not the pipelines are adhering to state and federal water quality standards in all areas affected by the construction of these pipelines.

While a welcome development in the war against the pipelines, the fight continues on. Once the DEQ has released its in-depth water quality reviews, public hearings on the draft certifications will be open for commenting. Mike Tidewell, Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said in a press release yesterday that a thorough investigation of the pipeline’s impacts on water quality will unveil the immense opposition to the pipelines.

“We are confident that a full-fledged review of the projects will show that there is no way they can be built and operated without harming water quality,” Tidewell says.

Though Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is an avid proponent for the pipelines, Virginia’s residents are concerned about their many negative repercussions such as pipeline blowouts, landslides, decreased property value, and groundwater contamination. Outdoor enthusiasts are especially concerned about the future of the region’s public lands, in particular, the George Washington National Forest, the Monongahela National Forest, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Appalachian Trail. Both pipelines will intersect these special places, which not only serve as critical habitat for sensitive species but also generate millions of tourism dollars in the region every year.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on the pipeline developments, but you can also stay up-to-date on these water quality certifications by signing up for email alerts from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.