Action report from Appalachians Against Pipelines about a recent lock down against pipeline construction equipment. AAP wrote in their release that, “He was locked to equipment on site for nearly 5 hours before being arrested. He has been charged with 3 misdemeanors (trespassing, obstruction, and tampering with equipment) and 1 felony (threat of terrorism); bail has been set at $8,000. This is the first felony charge in our nonviolent direct action campaign against the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
Lindside, WV — Early Thursday morning, 22-year-old pipeline fighter Holden Dometrius locked himself to welding equipment at a Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) construction site, stopping work. The work site in question is located above the town of Lindside, WV on Little Mountain. Banners on site read “TO HELL WITH YOUR PERMITS” and “NO BORDERS, NO PRISONS, NO PIPELINES ON STOLEN LAND.”
The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a 303-mile, 42-inch diameter fracked gas pipeline that runs from northern West Virginia to southern Virginia, with a 70-mile extension into North Carolina announced in 2018. The 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. Resistance to the pipeline has existed since it was proposed nearly 5 years ago, including a robust nonviolent direct action campaign that began in 2018.
Dometrius, originally from North Carolina, stated: “The Mountain Valley Pipeline is one of the worst possible things we could build at this point in time. All the science suggests that fossil fuels are killing us. A 42-inch gas pipeline is the complete opposite of an appropriate response to the greatest threat our planet has faced. Climate change is not something we can keep putting off; it needs to be dealt with immediately. Millions of people are dying every year as a result of climate change and its root cause, fossil fuels.
“We could just let capitalism run its course, let the politicians and regulators sell environmental permits to Mountain Valley Pipeline, and let extraction destroy the planet. That doesn’t make any sense to me. If it doesn’t make sense to you either, then make some moves. Get in the way. If everyone steps up, things could change. So here I am.”
Yesterday, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) modified the state’s water quality certification standards in such a way that will inevitably allow MVP to construct the pipeline across water bodies using a method that had previously been deemed illegal (and which remains extremely dangerous to impacted waterways and communities). This rewriting of laws comes after a federal court put MVP’s streamlined water crossing permit on hold in June of 2018, in response to a motion filed by environmental groups opposed to the pipeline, because the permit plainly violated WVDEP’s own regulations. Now that the regulations have been changed to suit MVP’s needs, the company will apply for a new permit and construction across waterways will proceed as soon as possible. The banner seen at today’s action is a reference to this endless, thinly veiled corruption that is embedded in the pipeline approval process.
Today is also the 233rd day of two aerial blockades deemed the Yellow Finch tree sits in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. These tree sits, which are located in some of the last remaining trees along the pipeline’s path outside of Elliston, VA, have been protecting the hillside on which they are perched since September of 2018. In December, Mountain Valley Pipeline filed a request for injunction against the tree sitters, asking a federal judge to have the sitters removed, but Judge Dillon has not yet made a decision in that case.