Montgomery County, VA — Yesterday morning, Pipeline fighter River scaled a critical piece of welding machinery at a Mountain Valley Pipeline work site in Montgomery County, VA, preventing work at the site from proceeding further along the pipe.
River stated: “It is a common misconception that we all contribute to and suffer from environmental damage equally. It is large corporations like EQT that are destroying our homes while their CEOs look on from their penthouses. This is why ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ is not enough. We will never be able to recycle enough empty milk jugs to make up for the hundreds of miles of forests and farmlands that the MVP has devastated in its wake.“
The banner hanging on site reads “LOVE THE LAND: SOLIDARITY WITH MAUNA KEA,” in reference to the ongoing blockade by Native Hawaiians of a sacred site in Hawai’i that is threatened by the construction of a massive telescope. The blockade, which is in 18th day of preventing construction, is not just about a telescope — it is about the ongoing desecration and exploitation of Native culture and rights.
In support of River’s action, a banner was hung above nearby Interstate 81 at exit 128, reading: “DEFEND WHAT YOU LOVE, STOP MVP, RESISTANCE = SURVIVAL.”
After seven and a half hours, River was extracted and arrested. They prevented welding from progressing along the pipe at a Mountain Valley Pipeline work site for that time. They were arraigned, and held without bail on misdemeanor charges.
UPDATE | 1:30 AM : Eight activists were charged with resisting arrest due to not being able to rip their hands free from the doors and doorframe, instead requiring an acetone solution to dissolve the glue. They are being held overnight and will be seen in court tomorrow July 24th:
H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse, 500 Indiana Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001
UPDATE | 11:30PM : U.S. Capitol Police confirm 17 arrests from the Rayburn and Cannon House office buildings. For over two hours, climate activists glued themselves to the House Office buildings, blocking passage to the US Capitol before a vote in the House Chamber in order to demand that Congress declare a climate emergency. All 17 were charged with “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding”; 15 of the 17 were charged with defacing public property, and eight were charged with resisting arrest.
UPDATE | 10:30 PM Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thanked the activists for the action outside the building as they were being put in the police wagon. According to one demonstrator, Rashida Tlaib said to her that the blockade was more important than her job. Other members of Congress, including Maxine Waters and Elisha Cummings, celebrated the action in the House Office building as it was going on.
UPDATE | 7:00 PM The police have blockaded the Cannon rotunda, designating it a crime scene so that bystanders and support could be moved out of sight of those glued to the doors and doorways.
Washington, D.C., July 23 – Following the weekend’s “heat emergency” and a slew of flash floods in D.C., the climate group Extinction Rebellion (XR) brought business-as-usual to a halt in Congress Tuesday with an unprecedented act of mass civil disobedience. Activists used superglue to physically attach themselves to key passages in the House Office buildings, blocking members of Congress just before a vote in the Capitol building.
The climate activists demanded the speedy passage of the climate emergency resolution, which is currently sitting idle in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
One demonstrator, Wesley Boccardo, explained, “I’m a farmer and I’m here because I want to have places to farm.”
Stephen Leus, who chose to superglue his hand to one of the entrances to the underground tunnel to the Capitol building, said of his decision that “it would be crucially irresponsible for us to not act in the limited amount of time we have.”
The U.S. Congress is not treating the climate emergency legislation with the urgency it deserves. The existential threat that climate change poses to our economy and to the health of all Americans should make this resolution Congress’ top priority. Extinction Rebellion activists are calling on both chambers to recognize the truth of the emergency we are in and to pass the resolution as a first step to acknowledging the severity of the crisis.
On July 9, the concurrent resolution for the U.S. to declare a climate emergency at the federal level was introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with six co-sponsors in the Senate and 49 co-sponsors in the House. The resolution would need 51 Senate and 218 House votes to pass through Congress.
Earlier this summer, New York City declared a climate emergency, the largest city in the U.S. to do so. The city council cited the direct action coordinated by XR NYC as a driving force behind the declaration. With increasingly dire predictions about the effects of climate change, the DC chapter of XR is taking action to demand the same at the federal level.
The U.K. Parliament has also declared a climate emergency due to mass civil disobedience actions by Extinction Rebellion (XR). In April 2019, XR activists in the U.K. successfully brought London to a standstill by gathering thousands of people for an 11-day blockade. In only a year, the movement has spread to include hundreds of thousands of people around the world in part because Extinction Rebellion communicates the grave seriousness of the climate emergency we face and asks people to act accordingly. It’s working.
The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of XR also held a simultaneous protest in coordination with the D.C. chapter today. Climate advocates gathered at noon PST at the steps of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office in downtown San Francisco for a symbolic Die-In. Those entering the building had to step over the bodies of the climate victims.
Extinction Rebellion US is one of 45 countries that form Extinction Rebellion International. XR US has four demands. They include net zero carbon emissions by 2025 and the creation of a Citizens’ Assembly to oversee the bold and swift changes that our fossil fuel-corrupted government has been unable to make.
More action against the Mountain Valley Pipeline this week.
On Monday, 10 water protectors blocked the entrance to a Mountain Valley Pipeline work site in Montgomery County, VA! They prevented MVP from accessing the site for over 2 hours.
And then today [Thursday], a pipeline fighter locked down and blocked construction across the road from the Yellow Finch blockade! After days of MVP drawing nearer, work can now be seen from the tree sitters perch in the branches of the Oak and White Pine. In response Violet has locked herself onto the easement in order to stop MVP from progressing forward.
“Without a doubt, the Mountain Valley Pipeline needs to be stopped. It will destroy a precious environment that provides vivid life to the countless plants, animals, and communities that call this region home. The most shameful things have been done to this land and to the people who have lived here. It is destruction in the name of exploitation and profit. We’ve already lost so much life on our planet, and what is left cannot sustain this any longer.
I’ve continued to find hope among the communities of resistance in this region. Mirroring the dynamic natural relationships that make these forests and mountains so beautiful, courageous people of Appalachia and beyond have shown resilience that is capable of combatting the pipeline’s threat. By struggling together, we have created ways of loving and of fighting everything that projects such as the MVP stand for.
This is no time for neutrality. Our tree sits are still up, and the Mountain Valley Pipeline has fallen behind schedule. It will continue to do so.”
Report from Appalachians Against Pipelines on recent action that shut down construction on the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).
Montgomery County, VA — Yesterday, pipeline fighter Phillip Flagg locked himself in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline near Elliston, VA. MVP has been clearing and grading this section of the pipeline’s path in preparation to lay pipe. Phillip laid his body in the easement and locked his body to an underground concrete blockade directly in the path of the pipeline. His action stopped MVP work at the site for 7 hours, preventing the company’s progression towards the nearby Yellow Finch tree sits. Around 5:30 pm, Phillip was extracted from his blockade and arrested. He was charged with misdemeanor obstruction and released on $1,000 bail.
Phillip, who previously spent months living in a tree sit blocking the MVP, stated: “I cherished the time I spent in the tree sit, and I think back on it fondly. But I’m not too proud to admit that the time I spent in the oak simply isn’t enough to stop this pipeline. The forces we are facing will not be dissuaded by any individual effort. Each of us has our piece to contribute — when one person steps up, others will follow.”
A banner near the site of Phillip’s blockade read “STOP THE MVP — BLOCK THE PATH — NO PIPELINES ON STOLEN LAND.” The latter part of this message refers to the fact that Indigenous people inhabited the hills and hollers of this region for thousands of years — including Monocan, Moneton, Cherokee, and other Native peoples — before white settlers arrived (bringing with them genocide and forced relocation). Extraction and fossil fuel infrastructure are a continuation of the legacy of colonization; Appalachians Against Pipelines stands in solidarity with Indigenous-led fights against pipelines, from Unist’ot’en to the fight against Line 3 and beyond.
In the holler adjacent to Phillip’s action, the Yellow Finch tree sits have been blocking the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline for 313 days and counting. In support of Phillip’s action, one of the anonymous tree sitters stated: “Every day, MVP’s construction work gets close and closer to the Yellow Finch sits, decimating acres of Appalachian forests, mountains, and waterways in its wake. Today and every day, we are putting our bodies on the line to stop it. Now is the time to stand up and fight back against the destruction of the earth. Join us! We’re still here. We won’t back down.”
The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a 42-inch diameter, 303-mile fracked gas pipeline that runs from northern West Virginia to southern Virginia. Earlier this month, a 70-mile extension into North Carolina (which was proposed in 2018) was denied its Section 401 Water Quality Certification by the NC Department of Environmental Quality. The Mountain Valley Pipeline endangers water, ecosystems, and communities along its route, contributes to climate change, increases demand for natural gas (and as a result, fracking), and is entrenched in corrupt political processes.
Resistance to the pipeline has only grown since the pipeline’s proposal in 2014. Grassroots-led pipeline monitoring and a nonviolent direct action campaign are ongoing. On June 17, 2019, builders admitted that the project’s budget has ballooned to $5 billion and that completion date has been delayed by 1.5 years at least.
The pipeline is in a state of uncertainty. MVP currently lacks permission to cross many water bodies and has been forced to explore alternate approaches in crossing through the Jefferson National Forest. The coming months will show whether construction is able to move forward in those areas, and whether investors will continue to believe in the pipeline’s ever-distant goal of completion.