Local Locks Himself To Excavator At Pipeline Work Site

| Resist!

Photos: Appalachians Against Pipelines

Montgomery County, VA – Another brave pipeline fighter has taken a stand against the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Early Friday morning, Blacksburg, VA local Michael James-Deramo locked himself to an excavator a Mountain Valley Pipeline site in Montgomery County, VA, preventing construction. A banner attached to the equipment stated, “SPARK RESISTANCE.” 

Michael stated: “I grew up in this county, this is my home. When I was young, I played in the forests on Brush Mountain, when I got older I hiked the trails of Peters Mountain. For the past 4 years, I have fought against the Mountain Valley Pipeline. We have watched as this pipeline has wreaked havoc — from Brush Mountain to Peters Mountain, from Four Corners Farm to Bottom Creek — not just havoc on the land, but on the lives and mental wellbeing of individuals, and the sanctity of place and safety.

“These actions are not just about this stretch of pipe, this stand of trees. These actions are a defiance. Defiance of a world in which men with guns protect men with chainsaws in the name of destroying memories, homes, and lives. Defiance of the idea that progress is measured by the thickness of the wallets of a heartless few, at the expense of land they never learned, explored, loved, or even set foot upon. Defiance of our erasure, of a thousand stories cut short by an excavator that does not understand life with balance, only destruction and domination. Defiance of a multibillion dollar disaster backed by a state born from genocide and violence. Defiance of a project that has become a studied master of systematic decimation of land, species, and all deemed its economic opposition.”

In support of today’s action, Christian Shushock, 17 year old activist in Blacksburg, stated: “As a teenager who has grown up in Appalachia, I have fallen in love with these mountains. I understand the intimate connection that we as Appalachians have with nature, and the sacred duty we have to protect it. If projects like the Mountain Valley Pipeline are allowed to degrade our environment, not only is nature threatened, but also the very future of Appalachian youth such as myself.”

The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a 303-mile, 42-inch diameter fracked gas pipeline that runs from northern West Virginia to southern Virginia. Earlier this month, a 70-mile extension into North Carolina (which was proposed in 2018) was denied its Section 401 Water Quality Certification by the NC Department of Environmental Quality. The Mountain Valley Pipeline endangers water, ecosystems, and communities along its route, contributes to climate change, increases demand for natural gas (and therefore fracking), and is entrenched in corrupt political processes. 

Today’s action site is located just a few miles from the ongoing tree sit blockade at Yellow Finch. There, pipeline fighters have been living in some of the last remaining uncut trees on the pipeline easement since September 5, 2018! 

The project is in a state of uncertainty. MVP currently lacks permission to cross many water bodies and has been forced to explore alternate approaches in crossing through the Jefferson National Forest. The coming months will show whether construction is able to move forward in those areas, and whether investors continue to believe in the pipeline’s ever-distant goal of completion. 

  • I salute the courage and conviction of Mr. James-Deramo. He loves our Great Mother like the Navajos with whom I work here in the Four Corners. This love of our Great Mother Earth and protecting her is very unlike Anglo-Saxon self-centeredness and greed. His love and Navajos love for our Mother is how I feel and all Native Peoples worldwide feel. We all know when humans disrespect her as the USA does 100% of her existence, she takes balancing actions, in this case wiping out most if not all life on earth, due to humans like these unconscious, hateful, destructive pipeline assassins.

  • jwreitter

    I am so grateful to these courageous, young pipeline fighters who are really protecting not only their local landscapes but the earth itself!

  • mwildfire

    Usually people doing this sort of thing are arrested and dragged away within hours. Is it worth the cost to those who put up bail and legal money, to the person who may have future employment problems because of the arrest, the cost of the extra policing to the local or state taxpayers, just to delay construction for a few hours? Also given that this is spurring these draconian new felony charges for such protests, now happening on the federal level via PHMSA (the pipeline safety agency)? My answer is a most emphatic YES. Because every time this happens there is an opportunity to speak about the issues, to broaden public understanding, to underline that these projects are being rammed through without a social license. And because–I’m going to quote a line I heard on a Climate Reality Check conference call–“The hold they have on governments is the industry’s only current strength.” Yes, they sure do have a hold on the US and most state governments, and plenty of others–but they are losing money hand over fist, the investors are getting impatient for the promised bonanza from fracking, and the public is getting increasingly hostile (it’s our job to step up the hostility as fast as we can). Everything that delays a project increases the odds that it will never be built (or completed). I live in West Virginia–I’ve never seen a project denied its permits. I have seen projects eventually cancelled because investors got tired of all the obstacles and legal appeals of permits. People willing to chain themselves to equipment, facing down angry workers and violent police, are heroes in my book. So are the lawyers who dedicate themselves to fighting this ecocide, for a lot less money than they could earn working for corporations.

  • Doña Susy

    What a supreme act of love is this resistance…to put one’s self in harm’s way for the protection of our only home, Mother Earth, and all her creatures. May our Creator be with you and protect you always from all harm, Michael James-Deramo, Christian Shushock, and all your fellow resisters!