The old folks have been blocking access to a Mountain Valley Pipeline easement and work yard for 3.5 hours and counting! Cops and pipeline security are on the scene. Nearly 20 people have gathered on site to show their support.
Pipeline fighter Deborah Kushner is a 66-year-old retired mental health worker and resident of central Virginia. Regarding her action today, she stated “My presence here today is just a small gesture of dissent. It’s what I can do to delay – even for a few hours – the march towards assured oblivion. […] My action today is very much out of my comfort zone. I’m compelled to act because we are out of time. Protecting the health and safety of our water, air and land is critical because our laws, regulatory agencies and courts don’t protect it. They don’t protect us from renegade, profiteering industries destroying the planet. […] My stand today is for a future in which we all can thrive.”
Early this morning, Kushner locked herself to the trunk of a broken down car blocking access to a Mountain Valley Pipeline easement, two access roads and a work yard in Bent Mountain, Virginia. Kushner sits in a rocking chair on the trunk of the car next to slogans “Water is Life” and “Land Back” and under an umbrella that reads “Respect existence or expect resistance.”
Last week, activists from several climate action groups participated in a “Walk For Our Grandchildren,” speaking out against the fossil fuel industry and demanding bold climate action (read more: https://baytobaynews.com/stories/protesters-detained-during-climate-rally-in-wilmington,51877). Kushner cheered on these kindred old folks — from our rocking chairs to theirs — taking action for future generations!
Kusher’s full statement reads: “I remember exactly where I was in 2014 when I read the nightmarish news that construction was being planned for 23 pipelines in the Appalachian basin. A few months later the excellent environmental investigative group Public Herald toured with their documentary, ‘Triple Divide,’ warning that Virginia would be caught in the cross-hairs of pipeline development because of its location between the WV/PA shale oil fields and the coast. Up until then, I thought the closest fracking wells were in the Dakotas. A few months after this rude awakening, both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) were announced. My community was extremely lucky – after 6 years of fighting Dominion/Duke Power’s ACP, that pipeline was canceled.
“The death and devastation machine that is the MVP lives on, destroying land, air, water, wildlife, entire ecosystems, families, livelihoods, and communities. We’ve known for a long time the ‘need’ for pipelines is fictitious: the market for gas is flat and falling, and stock prices for EQT (MVP’s dastardly parent) continue to slide, but the death and devastation continues. MVP doesn’t have all its permits and has a horrid history of worker safety, but is hellbent on violating the land by blasting and clear-cutting so that they can gain their precious 14% return on equity. It’s all about the money — and, of course, about power. Eminent domain is just the latest iteration in a long history of nefarious ways to steal land.
“My presence here today is just a small gesture of dissent. It’s what I can do to delay – even for a few hours – the march towards assured oblivion. I believe in Right Action. With each act of protection the tide WILL turn, because our precious planet is resilient and seeks equilibrium. We are tasked with protecting the beauty and bounty of this world so that it can thrive, as will we if we do our part. Corporations have no soul. They only chase profit. They can have no place at the table in deciding our common future.
“The horrors that have been unleashed by extractive industry and fossil fuel use have brought us to this precipice. If we do nothing, our future holds certain disaster. So it’s incumbent on all of us to turn this monster around, and quickly. Yes, it will be inconvenient. Those of us living cozy, resource-heavy lifestyles will need to make sacrifices. Please take time to ponder this: what will you sacrifice so that the next generations can just survive, much less flourish?
“Each of us can do something for a better future: write that letter or email to the powers-that-be. Make a phone call to voice your opinion. Help plant a community garden and meet your neighbors. Turn half your lawn back to native plants for the pollinators and animals. Convince a church or other big-lawn institution to plant native flora, oak trees and community gardens. Stop using chemicals. Drive less. Share. Eat what’s in season. Bank with a credit union instead of a Big Bank. Buy less. Avoid Amazon and Big Box stores. All of these actions will help un-hook you from fossil fuel consumption and build more resilient communities. Be a model to help others see that our current lifestyles are largely unsustainable. How will you stand for necessary change, and what will you sacrifice? If my presence today delays this environmental nightmare for just a few hours, my action will have been successful. If my image as an elder person gives another senior impetus to act, my presence will have been worthwhile. We retired seniors can most easily afford to take some time out of our lives so that we can try to leave our juniors a more livable planet.
“I am not a paid protester. I am an introvert who loves quiet places. I feel most at home observing the natural world’s wonders. From the elegant mechanisms in a single cell to the majesty of a mountain range, nature is the best teacher, art and entertainment. Although I grew up in a large city, I dreamed of living deep in the woods and was fortunate enough to enjoy that luxury. But one can never live deep enough in the woods to get away from greed, irreverence and exploitation.
“I retired from a career helping people diagnosed with serious mental illnesses gain skills so they could live independently. That work was very much like wildlife rehabilitation, which was also some of the most gratifying work I’ve done. Nurturing another life until graduation day, when it leaves to live on its own is tremendously rewarding. This kind of work offers lessons for everyone. Even an orphaned, tiny, eyes-closed creature knows not to foul its own home. Baby birds poop over the side of their nests. Groundhogs have specific latrine areas in their tunnels. Our innate intelligence should tell us that sediment-choked streams, aquifers poisoned by injection well chemicals and buried time bombs of explosive gas don’t equate with a future.
“My action today is very much out of my comfort zone. I’m compelled to act because we are out of time. Protecting the health and safety of our water, air and land is critical because our laws, regulatory agencies and courts don’t protect it. They don’t protect us from renegade, profiteering industries destroying the planet. When laws don’t serve the planet and a viable future, the laws are complicit in environmental devastation.
“Lest you think the folks along the ACP path are off the hook now that that pipeline is dead, gold mining is threatening air, land, water and health along the gold/pyrite belt that spans from Fairfax to Halifax. Gargantuan open pit mines, cyanide waste lagoons and immense de-watering operations that will drain aquifers are promised (https://www.friendsofbuckinghamva.org/friends/ban-gold-mining/). Yes, they will keep coming for any particle of profit that can be gleaned from our natural landscape.
“The stunning beauty of Appalachia’s wild areas has evolved over millennia. The ancient mountains, pristine streams, rich wildlife and flora are incomparable. Pipelines and extractive industries have no place here, or anywhere, if we are to have a future. Current laws and courts favor commerce, not people and the common resources that are vital for life. My stand today is for a future in which we all can thrive.
“It takes a big village to stop pipelines! If you are able, please donate to AAP’s resistance fund http:// bit.ly/SupportMVPResistance for bail and legal fees so that more people are able to step up and actively resist this monster. For every person on the front line, it takes legions of support bodies and minds. It’s imperative that we all do something, whether it’s donating funds, getting in the way of the pipelines, taking care of the pets back home while someone’s locked up, writing letters to Acre, and any other large or small way we wage this fight for our future!
“My choice to get in the way of this pipeline is evidence of my extremely entitled position. It’s my choice, and I am fairly certain of my fate and consequences. No one is dependent on me for their care, existence or transportation, and I won’t suffer stigma or lost employment opportunities because of my choice. Legions of others don’t have these luxuries. Please consider contributing to a bail fund to help those who are being held in jail simply for not having the funds to get out. This group is local to me and is doing excellent work: https://blueridgebailfund.org/. You can also google to find a similar fund near you.”