Legislation Would Cripple Virginia Air and Water Boards, Reduce Public Transparency

Virginia’s citizen boards, including the Air Pollution Control Board and the State Water Control Board, would be crippled and public transparency eliminated under several bills introduced in the General Assembly. Under S.B. 657 and H.B. 1261 the boards would lose their ability to approve permits.

Citizen boards ensure that important environmental decisions are made in full public view, with public debate, public comment, and a transparent vote These bills would result in industry negotiating permits behind closed doors with Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

Reporters could no longer cover a public forum for state approval of major Virginia projects. Members of the public would lose an opportunity to weigh in on proposals that could increase pollution. HB 1261 would also inject partisan politics into Virginia’s citizen boards by allowing the House and Senate to appoint some Board members.

Virginia’s citizen boards, comprised of volunteer members of the public, ensure that people from across the Commonwealth are engaged in regulatory and permitting decisions. They bring thoughtful, real-world perspectives to supplement technical agency guidance.

In December the Air Board issued a very rare denial of an air permit for a compressor station proposed for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, largely due to DEQ’s failure to comply with project siting requirements in both Virginia law and legal precedent. In response, a separate bill, S.B. 81, would block the Air Board’s ability to consider these siting factors.

Another bill, H.B. 1204, would remove the Air Board’s authority to issue a minor new source review air permit, denying the Board’s ability to approve these permits even when significant public interest has been expressed.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Virginia Executive Director Peggy Sanner issued the following statement.

“These bills would seriously reduce the transparency to the public of important governmental actions affecting residents. We cannot let industry and state agencies negotiate permits behind closed doors. Virginians deserve to see how public officials make decisions that affect our lives and livelihoods.
“Citizen boards ensure that Virginians have a meaningful voice in shaping the rules that are intended to protect our air, water, lands, and communities. We must not cut the public out of the process.”

 # # #

Kenny Fletcher 90x110

Kenny Fletcher

Director of Communications and Media Relations, CBF

[email protected]

Support the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Your donation helps the Chesapeake Bay Foundation maintain our momentum toward a restored Bay, rivers, and streams for today and generations to come.

Donate Today


Do you enjoy working with others to help clean the Chesapeake Bay? Do you have a few hours to spare? Whether growing oysters, planting trees, or advocating for a clean Bay, there are plenty of ways you can contribute.

This website uses cookies to tailor and enhance your online experience. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more information, including details on how to disable cookies, please visit our Privacy Policy. Close