SUMMERS CO., W.Va. – Protests against the Mountain Valley Pipeline continue this week, and Wednesday a man was arrested after locking himself to construction equipment along the pipeline route.
The controversial pipeline aims to move large quantities of fracked gas from the Marcellus Shale Fields in West Virginia to southern Virginia for distribution across the U.S. and overseas.
Its critics contend fracking and the pipeline itself endanger water and ecosystems.
The group Appalachians Against Pipelines sponsored the protest, and says it’s committed to fighting what it sees as hazardous fossil fuel projects.
Spokeswoman Annie Boatwright was at the latest protest site.
“Police came and work was stopped for almost 8 hours today,” she relates. “There was a great community rally of support. It’s just one action in years of folks taking the risks that it takes to stop a project that’s bad news.”
According to Boatwright, the protester, who remains anonymous, has been charged with two misdemeanors and one felony. His bail was set at $6,000. The groups says their resistance has delayed completion of the pipeline by at least a year.
The same group is also behind a nearly 300-day tree sitting blockade near Elliston, Va., in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Since February 2018, members have been protecting some of the last remaining trees along the pipeline by sitting in them.
Boatwright says by stalling construction, the group hopes to prevent damage to the environment.
“Fracked gas as well as bitumen extraction and transport are why we’re in the climate emergency that we’re in right now,” she states. “Industry like that creates an environmental wasteland. This pipeline is a disaster waiting to happen.”
Last week, builders of the pipeline said the project’s budget has soared to $5 billion and completion has been delayed by a year-and-a-half, in part as a result of the protests but also due to legal challenges by environmental groups.