Pipeline Fighter Blocks Mountain Valley Pipeline Construction

Cross-posted from Appalachians Against Pipelines

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.

Appalachia: Police and MVP Security Attempt Eviction of Yellow Finch Tree-Sit

via Appalachians Against Pipelines

via Appalachians Against Pipelines.

“The tree sitters are holding strong. We are still here. Today is day 267.

At the Yellow Finch tree sits in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, cops have left the scene (for now). MVP is still lurking down the road. We are still asking for local support — if you are available and can come out today during the day, we’d love to see you. If not, donate.

Here is a note from one of the sitters:

“Not all tree sitters enjoy the heights. Some impressive souls brave their worst fear. But for me, it is a perk, and before I climbed trees I climbed rocks.

Nothing is quite like the odd sensation of dangling in free space. Hundreds of feet up, trusting the ropes but without your weight in them, dangling above them only by your hands on tiny rock ledges. Sensing that your life is very much in your own hands.

We like to call our brief spaces of liberation ‘autonomous zones’. This is a little tongue-in-cheek. The cops could come at any time. But it is also the reality of the space

that we are all autonomous
that we are all ungovernable

At 6 A.M., I was rudely awakened by MVP attempting to climb the neighboring white pine. 20 workers were sprawled out beneath the two sits, using increasingly sketchy tactics to try and enter the tree.

Here I am, dangling once more into the terrifying freedom of choice.

Photo via Appalachians Against Pipelines.

Toss down your rope. Ignore the bustle below. Hope your friend catches it. Hope security knows / believes that touching them is a crime. Up the rope, to the traverse. Get out your gear. Attach. Now sprint. You are faster than them, because you are freer. Into the danger. Into harm’s way. Into this tree they would have cut today. And they leave. Awkwardly, bashfully. Retreating back to law & order, where the courts are still ignoring them.

It is easy to feel helpless. But even in the worst of circumstances, you will always have yourself. And while the doctrine of politics might tell you that decisions are somewhere else, out in the world, intangible and out of reach, they are not. They are yours. Reach up the face of the cliff and grasp for rough granite. Move now, before your muscles give out. Before down is the only way forward. And I’ll meet you there. Up at the crest. Where the wind blows the rock smooth and the land stretches out beneath you for miles. Where you can see it. Something possible.

We are still here. And will continue to be. Bolstered by that miraculous thing which is freedom. Dangling on the precipice of another world.

Donate to support ongoing resistance: bit.ly/supportmvpresistance

For an update on this morning’s visit from MVP & law enforcement, see our last post: https://www.facebook.com/appalachiansagainstpipelines/posts/2047531472025736″

Third Week of Pipeline Fighting in Appalachia Shuts Down MVP Construction Again!

photo via Appalachians Against Pipelines.

This morning, a pipeline fighter named Andy climbed an excavator at a Mountain Valley Pipeline work site in Summers County, WV, and locked themself to it, preventing work at the site.

The pipeline fighter was locked to the excavator for multiple hours this morning, but came down on their own due to thunderstorm-related safety concerns. They were not arrested.

They stated, “I stand against the Mountain Valley Pipeline and all forms of exploitation and destruction of this planet. As we speak, MVP is destroying pristine forests, and beautiful and biodiverse bodies of water.

“We are in a place of serious urgency, not a place for any expansion of natural gas infrastructure. The time is now to take direct action against who and what is consciously valuing profits over people and our planet. Electoral tactics have failed us again, with MVP continuing work with revoked permits and ignoring local officials.

“No amount of fines can stop a systemic devaluation of our futures at the hand of a capital giant.

“I protest here today for my brother and sister, who likely won’t see a future as beautiful as I have. Standing in opposition to this antihuman hyper capitalist hegemony is my obligation, and I hope you see that it is yours as well.”

Support Andy and resistance to the Mountain Valley Pipeline: bit.ly/supportmvpresistance

Hooray for Scrappy Climate Action!

What a month!

Scrappy resistance to fossil fuels, its financiers and the politicians that love them has hit new levels with the goal of meeting the scale of the climate crisis with equal amounts of people powered momentum. As a result, climate and anti-fossil fuels action, both large and small, has spread globally.

The climate uprising centered around Extinction Rebellion has shaken the political establishment in London and iis spreading to other parts of the world. But we mustn’t forget that for decades, we’ve seen communities in countries like China and India rising up by the tens of thousands against mining and polluting power plants. And for more than a decade in North America, an Indigenous and frontline-led effort against coal, oil and gas have fought hard against mountaintop removal, coal mining, fracking and pipelines.

Now, today, a new report says that over 50% of new pipelines globally are being built in the U.S. and Canada. Report co-author Ted Nace said “This is a whole energy system not compatible with global climate survival. These pipelines are locking in huge emissions for 40 to 50 years at a time, with the scientists saying we have to move in 10 years. These pipelines are a bet that the world won’t get serious about climate change, allowing the incumbency of oil and gas to strengthen.” At the same time, a new phase of infrastructure fights with state governments passing anti-protest laws throughout the country. In North America, we’re in for a long struggle to counter climate change and extraction.

The past couple of weeks have seen scrappy action hit western governments, banks and carbon intensive industries most responsible for climate change again.

In the U.S.:

  • Anchorage, Alaska: Trouble-makers with Alaska Rising Tide dropped off a banner in protest of the government’s move to mine the state’s Pebble Mine.
  • Appalachia: In Virginia, the Yellow Finch tree-sit has stopped the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) in its tracks for over 200 days.  An epic battle has lasted for over a year where scrappy action that has included multiple landowner-led tree-sits, monopods, equipment lockdowns, bird-dogs of corporate CEOs and politicians and an impressive grassroots organizing effort. The MVP has been delayed for at least a year and the campaign is far from over.
  • Austin, TXXR Austin occupied a JPMorgan Chase branch with three members super gluing themselves inside the branch.
  • “Bank on Climate” Day of Action—In 22 cities, Rainforest Action Network and 350 Seattle organized rowdy actions in 22 cities against top climate financiers JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. From corporate office occupations in Boulder, San Francisco and Minneapolis to the shutdown of all 44 Chase branches in Seattle to a banner hang at Grand Central Station in New York to the bird-dogging of Chase CEO Jamie Dimon during a congressional hearing in Washington D.C. (and much much more), the funders of the climate crisis are receiving well deserved heat.
  • Eugene, OR—XR Eugene teamed up with Cascadia Forest Defenders to launch a tree-sit in in town to draw a connection between forest destruction and climate destruction.
  • Los Angeles—Two members of Extinction Rebellion Los Angeles super-glued themselves to the top of the NBC/Universal Studios globe demanding that NBC (a major media outlet) prioritize climate change as a daily news topic and reject fossil fuel commercials. Four members of the team were arrested and charged with felonies.

    Two climate activists super glued to the top of the Universal Studios globe in Los Angeles.

  • NYC— Climate activists with Extinction Rebellion NYC shut down traffic outside New York City Hall Wednesday, partially blocking access to the Brooklyn Bridge and staging a die-in to demand radical action on climate change.
  • Portland, OR— Eleven people were arrested after building a garden in the train tracks as a creative blockade against the Zenith export terminal.
  • Washington D.C.: And in the U.S. capital, two of our comrades with Beyond Extreme Energy occupied to top of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) building for six hours demanding a “Federal Renewable Energy Commission.”

Elsewhere:

  • London: In meeting the crisis at the scale that is needed, Extinction Rebellion UK occupied London for ten days. They’ve shut down traffic routes, disrupted the “Tube,” protested Heathrow Airport and targeted politicians and bankers. With over 1000 arrests, the Met Police found themselves with full jails and crowds of more willing participants.
  • Paris: More than 2,000 climate activists held a nonviolent blockade of France’s environment ministry just outside of Paris on Friday, calling out government complicity with fossil fuel companies and the banks that fund them. Climate activists are calling it one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in French history. The blockade also successfully targeted French oil giant Total; Société Générale, an investment bank that funds dirty energy projects; and a state-run electric utility that relies heavily on nuclear power.

    Climate activists sit in at French environmental ministry in Paris. Pic via Democracy Now!

  • Rotterdam: Today, over 40 climate activists occupied the Engie coalfired power station
  • The rest of world : In other cities around the world, Extinction Rebellion has disrupted business as usual in India, Germany, Spain, Denmark and more.

As Paul Street recently paraphrased radical historian Howard Zinn:

“Howard Zinn was right. It’s not just about who’s sitting in the White House or the Governor’s mansion or the Mayor’s office or the city council seat.  It’s also and above all about who’s sitting in the streets, who’s disrupting, who’s monkey-wrenching, whose idling capital, who’s occupying the pipeline construction sites, the highways, the workplaces, the town-halls, the financial districts, the corporate headquarters, and universities beneath and beyond the biennial and quadrennial candidate-centered big money big media major party electoral extravaganzas that are sold to us as “politics” – the only politics that matters. This is true about fighting racist police violence. It’s true about labor rights and decent wages.  It’s true about all that and more and it’s true about saving livable ecology.”

We’re up against some very bad players. The worst in the world. Maybe the worst in the history of the world. It’s time for serious organizing and hardscrabble actions.

See you in the streets.