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Pipeline Protester Locks Herself To Excavator On Peters Mountain

“We Can’t Just Stand By And Let Them Do This.”

Lindside, WV – Early Saturday morning, a pipeline fighter using the name Vole locked herself to an excavator on the West Virginia side of Peters Mountain in the Jefferson National Forest, preventing Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) from finishing construction on both sides of the mountain, next to the Appalachian Trail. Banners at the site of the action read, “DESTROY ALL PIPELINES” and “LAND BACK,” and a rally of supporters gathered nearby in the National Forest.

After blockading pipeline work for 5 hours, Vole was extracted from her blockade and escorted off the mountain by law enforcement. She was charged with 3 misdemeanors, had bail set at $2,000, and has since been bailed out of jail.

“What happens in this region and on this mountain matters,” explained Vole before taking action today. “It matters to the trees MVP has ripped from the earth, to the critters who took shelter here, and to topsoil destroyed for generations. It matters to the people near and far who have loved and fought for this place, and those who have watched MVP destroy it further with each passing day. It matters for the thousands of people who will walk along the Appalachian Trail with explosive gas running below their feet if this pipeline is finished. It matters to me enough to stop them up here for as long as I can.”

The site of Vole’s action is the same site where two tree sits prevented MVP from clearing trees on the pipeline easement for 95 days in 2018. Recently, MVP bored through Peters Mountain, under the Appalachian Trail (AT). Vole’s protest this morning prevented the company from connecting the pipe running under the AT to that running down the mountain.

“People and systems in power have sacrificed this strip of Appalachia for corporate greed,” continued Vole. “Just as they sacrificed its mountaintops for coal, its healthy air and water for profit, and its people to an opioid epidemic and an ever growing jail population. Yet, for just as long as this area has been made a sacrifice zone, people here have been fighting extraction and all the pain and evil it brings- against colonizers, coal barons, and countless corporations. The breadth of struggle in these ancient hills is vast. It began long before the MVP was ever an idea, and will continue beyond this pipeline, well into the future.”

The Mountain Valley Pipeline is over budget by more than $4 billion and nearly 6 years behind schedule. The pipeline, if completed, would transport fracked gas across at least 303 miles of Appalachia. The project has a long record of environmental violations, and MVP’s permits (particularly those to cross the National Forest and waterways) have been revoked numerous times. In June 2023, the pipeline was fast-tracked by Congress, despite local residents voicing their opposition and concerns. Over the last few months, Mountain Valley Pipeline has escalated its legal intimidation of pipeline fighters, filing multiple Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP suits) and collaborating with local law enforcement to charge protesters with erroneous felonies in order to discourage resistance. The legal intimidation has failed to stop protestors.

“Six years ago, right around where I am today, people lived in two small treesits to protect a thriving forest atop this mountain for 95 days. Now, because of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, that rich ecosystem is a disaster zone. MVP has cleared trees, buried pipe in the national forest, and drilled through the mountain under the Appalachian Trail. The corporation aims to turn so-called Peters Mountain, and 300 miles more, into a dangerous money-making scheme. We can’t just stand by and let them do this.

“What happens in this region and on this mountain matters. It matters to the trees MVP has ripped from the earth, to the critters who took shelter here, and to topsoil destroyed for generations. It matters to the people near and far who have loved and fought for this place, and those who have watched MVP destroy it further with each passing day. It matters for the thousands of people who will walk along the Appalachian Trail with explosive gas running below their feet if this pipeline is finished. It matters to me enough to stop them up here for as long as I can.

“Backed by hundreds of years of colonization, the weight of the “justice system,” and some of the most powerful people in the world, MVP is struggling to complete their pipeline at all costs. People and systems in power have sacrificed this strip of Appalachia for corporate greed, just as they sacrificed its mountaintops for coal, its healthy air and water for profit, and its people to an opioid epidemic and an ever growing jail population.

“Yet, for just as long as this area has been made a sacrifice zone, people here have been fighting extraction and all the pain and evil it brings- against colonizers, coal barons, and countless corporations. The breadth of struggle in these ancient hills is vast. It began long before the MVP was ever an idea, and will continue beyond this pipeline, well into the future. Just as the fight to end all extraction and for Land Back stretches between mountain ranges and across oceans.

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