Mountain Valley Pipeline now faces criminal investigation

By Samantha Smith - Digital Content Producer

ROANOKE, Va. - The Mountain Valley Pipeline project is facing a criminal investigation into possible violations of the Clean Water Act. 

EQM Midstream Partners disclosed that there was an ongoing investigation in an annual report made Thursday with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission. 

According to the report, the MVP Joint Venture received a letter on January 7 from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Virginia stating that it and the EPA are investigating potential criminal and civil violations of the Clean Water Act and other federal statutes related to the pipeline's construction. 

A little under a month later, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Virginia confirmed it had opened a criminal investigation into the project. The office then issued a grand jury subpoena to MVP Joint Venture requesting documents from August 1, 2018 to the present. 

According to the filing, "The MVP Joint Venture is complying with the letter and subpoena but cannot predict whether any action will ultimately be brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office or what the outcome of such an action would be."

Below is a statement from Natalie Cox, MVP spokesperson: 

MVP was informed that the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia has opened a criminal investigation into possible violations of the Clean Water Act and we received a subpoena for documents related to such. MVP is complying with the subpoena; however, we cannot predict whether any action will ultimately be brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office or what the outcome of any action would be.

While the project has been named in a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Mark Herring and the Department of Environmental Quality, this is the first confirmed criminal investigation into the project.

However, two Roanoke attorneys called on the EPA to investigate possible civil and criminal violations in connection with construction that continued after a permit was suspended. 

The two environmental attorneys involved, Charlie Williams and Tom Bondurant, with Gentry and Locke, represent Preserve Bent Mountain, a group that opposes the Mountain Valley Pipeline. 

Bondurant said the group conducted its own investigation and as “substantial body of evidence” that they believe proves pipeline crews were working when they shouldn’t have been.

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