Greenbrier County, WV (August 29) — Early this morning, two pipeline fighters locked themselves to equipment at a Mountain Valley Pipeline work site adjacent to Interstate 64 in WV. One person was locked to an excavator on site, the other to the drill that MVP intends to use to bore under the interstate. A banner at the site read “ABOLISH BORDERS, DECOLONIZE LAND, DEFEND LIFE ON EARTH,” and a banner seen simultaneously from I-64 read “STOP WORK, JOIN US, EXIT HERE.”
The two pipeline fighters were locked to equipment for approximately 2 hours this morning. During this time, before law enforcement arrived, one of them was assaulted by a Mountain Valley Pipeline employee who attempted to force the protester out of their lock box, hitting the protester’s face against the excavator in the process. After 2 hours, both pipeline fighters had been extracted, and were removed from the site, cited for trespassing, and released.
One of the people locked to equipment today stated: “In a world that is dying, there is no place for civility. When families are being put in concentration camps, when the capitalist class is literally setting fire to Indigenous lands and destroying the lungs of our planet, there is no time for civility. As the Amazon burns, liberals and conservatives alike point to individual actions as bandaid fixes for a systemic crisis. […] Only taking action can stop this devastation.”
The other mountain defender stated: “I am here today to fight against the further devastation of land by the Mountain Valley Pipeline. […] Occupying and destroying land for resource development and profit continues to be at the core of environmental destruction and settler colonialism. We have the power to stop it.”
Debbie, a resident of Greenbrier County, stated the following in support of today’s action: “Land and water are the most precious of mother earth’s resources. Without these, nothing and none of us live. Yet land continues to be taken from those who call it home and who maintain it for their livelihood, and given to transnational corporations for their profit. Water is taken, only to be rendered radioactive then put back into the ground to pollute the land.”
The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a 42-inch diameter, 300-plus mile, fracked gas pipeline that runs from northern West Virginia to southern Virginia, with a proposed 70-mile extension into North Carolina. The Mountain Valley Pipeline contributes to climate change, increases demand for natural gas (and as a result, fracking), and is entrenched in corrupt political processes. It endangers water, ecosystems, and communities along its route. Early this month, 1 person died and several others were injured after an explosion of a 30-inch natural gas pipeline owned by Enbridge in rural Kentucky. The Mountain Valley Pipeline poses similar threats to those along its route, in addition to the risks posed by the construction process itself. From flipped excavators, to sinkholes, to landslides, MVP continues to risk the lives of protesters, residents, and even workers.
Resistance to the Mountain Valley Pipeline has only grown since the pipeline’s proposal in 2014. Grassroots-led pipeline monitoring and a nonviolent direct action campaign are ongoing. Today’s protesters are the 11th and 12th people to lock their bodies in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in 2019.
Meanwhile, the ongoing tree sit blockade near Elliston, VA — the Yellow Finch blockade — is currently in its 359th day of blocking MVP’s path. Earlier this month, a federal judge denied MVP’s request for an injunction against the tree sitters. The court case for a similar request for injunction filed in Virginia state court is ongoing. MVP currently lacks permission to cross many water bodies on the route, and has been forced to explore alternate approaches in crossing through the Jefferson National Forest. Just yesterday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that it will “reinitiate consultation” to assess the pipeline’s impact on four endangered and threatened species.
In June 2019, builders admitted that the project’s budget has ballooned to $5 billion and that the completion date has been delayed by at least 1.5 years (and counting).