Written by Ohio EarthKeeper Robert Downs with significant input from Virginia Earthkeeper, Morris Fleischer

CITIZEN ACTION SECURES PIPELINE CANCELATION: On Sunday, July 5, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy announced the cancelation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) that was to run 600 miles through West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. The stated reasons were ongoing delays and increasing cost uncertainty that threatened the economic viability of the project.  The decision was precipitated by the combined opposition from numerous environmental, faith, and civic organizations along the proposed ACP route and by the increased legal risk from precedent-setting District Court decisions in Montana. The successful citizen action raises optimism for similar groups opposing pipelines elsewhere in the country.

A case in point is the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), which is planned to pass about 35 yards north of the church served by Virginia Earthkeeper, Morris Fleischer. Morris thinks that one of the ways we can support one another is to lift these efforts in prayer. He also follows several Facebook pages of related groups to stay informed. He signs petitions and offers words of encouragement and support. Organizations opposing the MVP include Virginia Interfaith Power & Light, Friends of Nelson [County], Friends of Buckingham, Virginians Against Pipelines, RVA Interfaith Climate Justice League, Virginia River Healers, Green New Deal VA, Water Is Life—Protect It, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Citizen Voices Radio Show, Southern Environmental Law Center, and Appalachians Against Pipelines, an organization that also supports direct action by the Yellow Finch tree sitters in the northern part of Montgomery County, VA. These volunteers have been living in the trees for over 678 days to block the path of the pipeline!  

Morris is not aware of any direct UM activism/involvement in the ACP protest, but the faith community has played its part. One clergy member who pounded on the doors to justice and who lifted a prophetic voice against the ACP was the Rev. Paul Wilson, pastor of Union Hill and Union Grove Baptist churches in Buckingham County, VA.  This “front line” community, made up predominantly of descendants of slaves freed following the Civil War, was near the planned site of a 53,515 horsepower, gas-fired compressor station (the equivalent of 11 diesel locomotive engines running full blast seven days/week 365 days/year—imagine the noise, air, and light pollution!). Rev. Wilson worked tirelessly to defeat the ACP that would have disrupted his community. He saw this justice issue as not only environmental but also racial, as many transfer pipelines pass through communities of color and areas that are highly impoverished. This routing is perceived by developers to reduce the potential for effective organizing efforts against the pipelines. It effectively creates sacrificial zones of persons society tends to neglect/ignore/repress. The Rev. William Barber and former Vice President Al Gore made several appearances in Buckingham County and elsewhere to express their opposition to the construction of the ACP.

Morris notes that the MVP is a 42-inch, high-pressure transfer pipeline that transports fracked methane gas for shipping overseas. China and India are the primary purchasers. Even the term “natural gas” is a fossil fuel industry misnomer. While methane is “natural,” it is also odorless, explosively volatile, and deadly—hence the reason for the use of canaries in coal mines prior to modern methane gas detection technologies. Current fracking methods contaminate hundreds of thousands of gallons of water that is combined with other chemicals to push the gas through the cracks in the shale deposits for collection. As a byproduct, it also draws heavy metals and radioactive materials to the surface as part of the “waste” generated by fracking. The fossil fuel industry has gone to great lengths in federal and state courts to keep the contents of their fracking fluids an industry secret, so we can only guess at what toxic chemicals are being forced into the groundwater through the fracking process. It is quite scary to think about what is being put in our water supply!

Here is a 6-minute video, “Fire on the Mountain,” which was recently released about the MVP from the perspective of a family who has lived on their land for seven generations:

Below are several other links to excellent articles on recent developments regarding various pipelines:

Atlantic Coast Pipeline Canceled

Public resistance and high costs are canceling pipelines across the country