Anthony Crider via Wikimedia Commons

The state water control board has issued a critical permit that had been a thorn in the side of Virginia’s Mountain Valley Pipeline.

By a 3-2 vote, the Virginia State Water Control Board approved a stream-crossing permit for the 107-mile natural gas pipeline. Pipeline opponents decried the vote, claiming it would cause lasting harm to the environment.

Per Virginia Mercury:

“The facts show that remaining waterbody crossings can be completed successfully and without adverse impacts to sensitive resources as the project team has proposed,” Mountain Valley spokesperson Natalie Cox wrote in a statement. “In fact, Mountain Valley already has successfully performed multiple crossings of waterbodies and wetlands in Virginia, without adverse impacts to water quality.”

Environmental activists at a pipeline rally over the weekend saw things differently:

“We’re fighting against communities being disrupted. We’re fighting against monies being diverted to fossil fuel companies that ought to be put in health care and put in the creation of green jobs,” civil rights leader the Rev. William J. Barber II said in a fiery speech at an anti-pipeline rally Saturday in Richmond.

Opponents have particularly pointed to Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s 2018 lawsuit against Mountain Valley over violations related to erosion and sedimentation. The suit was settled in 2019 with Mountain Valley agreeing to pay a $2.15 million penalty and submit to third-party environmental monitoring.

“While there were a number of violations … we’re told by our [erosion and sedimentation] folks that these violations are not ongoing and regular and that they’re being addressed shortly after they’re identified,” Dave Davis, director of the Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Wetlands and Stream Protection, told the board Tuesday.