Tree-sitters blocking fracked-gas pipeline face arrest
Police are planning how to best extract two protesters from tree stands about 50 feet high along the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) that goes through Virginia. Last November, a judge issued a temporary injunction sought by MVP that ordered the tree-sitters to come down or face a forced removal by sheriff’s deputies. March 12 was Day 900 of the “Yellow Finch Blockade” to stop the pipeline. It has been 97 days since the injunction took effect.
Tree-sitters Acre and Robin say their resolve is strong, even with the threat of removal and arrest. “I’m not afraid to go to jail,” said Acre, “and I know my other tree sitter friend isn’t afraid to go to jail. It’s a moral thing. You stand up for what’s right, stand up for what you believe in!” Robin indicated that there will be no easy surrender. “By extracting Acre and I, the state is working for the corporate elites investing billions of dollars into this pipeline, at the expense of the land and the people. I won’t make it easy.”
The tree-sits first went up on September 5, 2018. The protest is the longest continuous blockade of a natural gas pipeline on the East Coast according to Appalachians Against Pipelines.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a 42-inch pipeline which would carry fracked gas from shale fields in West Virginia to intersect with the existing Transco Pipeline, a major highway for transporting gas to market overseas. MVP’s goal is not only profit off of this pipeline, but increasing international dependence on fossil fuels. The purpose of its use – to pump fracked natural gas through 303 miles of Virginia and West Virginia – would pump 37 coal plants worth of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.
Since work on the 303-mile pipeline began in 2018, opponents say it has scarred the mountainous terrain of Southwest Virginia, polluted its streams, and jeopardized endangered species of fish and bats, advancing fossil fuel over renewables. State regulators in Virginia and West Virginia have fined the company more than $2 million for repeated violations of erosion and sediment control regulations.
Appalachians Against Pipelines formed in 2018 when pipeline fighters took to the trees in the so-called Jefferson National Forest in Peterstown, West Virginia, where Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC intended to drill directly through the mountain and beneath the Appalachian Trail. The limestone karst terrain of this mountain generates and filters drinking water, and also makes the area especially susceptible to landslides and sinkholes. Appalachians Against Pipelines says, “As MVP continues their destructive project, we will continue to confront it. Currently, the pipeline is over $1.5 billion over budget, and almost 2 years delayed.”
Opposition to MVP, and all pipelines, is fierce throughout the region. This weekend, divestment rallies in the region demanded that Wells Fargo stop funding the MVP. The pipeline is funded in part by Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Chase, among others.
A post from the tree-sitters on March 8, 2021, said, “Good morning from Acre and the Yellow Finch tree sits on Day 916! This morning, I was rudely awoken to fifteen people with chainsaws marching up the hill towards Robin and me. If Mountain Valley Pipeline decides to start cutting on the hill where the sits are, this could mean potential danger!”
The tree-sitters, and all who are fighting these battles to stop the energy corporations from destroying the Earth and humanity, are standing up for us all. It is in the interests of all of us to support this movement.
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Information for this story has been gathered mainly from https://www.facebook.com/appalachiansagainstpipelines/
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