West Virginia: “STOP MTR” Banner Deployed on Mining Site

pic via Appalachians Against Pipelines

cross-posted from Appalachians Against Pipelines and RAMPS Campaign

This week, folks with Appalachians Against Pipelines and Ramps Campaign deployed a STOP MTR banner adjacent to an active mountaintop removal coal mine. This drone footage shows the destruction of a mountain in Boone County, WV.

See drone footage here.

Trish McLawhorn, who was on site at the action, is a citizen monitor for Mountain Valley Watch, Preserve Bent Mountain, and POWHR Coalition (Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights). “I am someone who strives to further educate and inform communities about, while actively opposing, environmentally destructive projects such as the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines,” Trish explained. “Those projects are currently causing irreparable harm and devastation to endangered species, as well as the desecration of stolen lands across territories now referred to as West Virginia and Virginia.

“As such, it was especially heartbreaking to visit, learn about, and bear witness to first hand mountaintop removal operations currently underway and happening for years in Appalachia. These forced alterations of the land to the detriment of the wild, precipitation cycles, and those who inhabit the valley below, are astounding and should never be exacted upon these beloved mountains. The implications of such mining processes are profound, forever altering the flow of water and vital functions of the ecological systems in place.

“The disruption of the natural world in this manner, as well as all other violent methods of fracturing our foundations, only strengthen my resolve and should compel every one of us, ever more deeply, to defend all that we love in Appalachia and beyond.

pic via Appalachians Against Pipelines

“Whether we are residing in communities fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, or mountaintop removal coal mining, many are finding ways to continue to reach out, support one another, educate ourselves, and inform those around us about how these struggles are all connected. I encourage folks to become involved, both locally and in areas outside of impacted blast and incineration zones. We must continue our work to defend, support, and protect life, especially those most vulnerable, regardless of whether we are directly or indirectly impacted.

“These are the places we have called home for generations. Threats to our collective survival are truly what we are up against … this is what we have ALWAYS been up against! We must continue fighting to protect these spaces for generations to come, and we must honor our ancestors with action. We must never back down!”

Clyde Bowe, a lifelong resident of the Coal River Valley, remembers hunting and root digging on White Oak for decades before it was stripped: “They shouldn’t be stripping that mountain like that. That’s bullshit. I’ve lived here my whole friggin’ life. You can’t go up there and root dig anymore, or see live trees, ‘cause they’ve stripped it. They should’ve left it the hell alone, the way I see it.

“They’ve gotten rid of all the game and killed everything off — that used to be good hunting up there. They should leave what’s there the hell alone, and shouldn’t continue. We should make them stop, is the way I see it.”

A note on scale — the banner shown in the beginning of this video looks tiny compared to the massive machines on the mine site. But in reality, the total length of the banner is over 80 feet and is being held by 14 people. The extent of the devastation on the mountain is difficult to comprehend.

 

Three water protectors SHUT DOWN work at a Mountain Valley Pipeline site in West Virginia!

Cross-posted from Appalachians Against Pipelines

BREAKING!! Three water protectors have SHUT DOWN work at a Mountain Valley Pipeline site in Greenbrier County!

Two Indigenous women and one other water protector have locked down to 3 separate excavators. Banners at the site read, “VIOLENCE AGAINST MOTHER EARTH IS VIOLENCE AGAINST OUR SISTERS” and “AIN’T SCARED. STILL FIGHTIN.”

Cherri Foytlin, afro-Indigenous mother of 6 with Extinction Rebellion, explains: “A little under a year ago, while I was fighting to keep the Bayou Bridge Pipeline from crossing our land, I was attacked by someone who thought their threats and acts of violence would quiet my sensible demand for clean water for generations yet to come. I am here today to say: I will not fear cowardly men when it comes to protecting Unci Maka (our Grandmother Earth). As our planet boils, our children are caged, and our women are disappeared, we must accept that violence against the Earth is the same as violence used against our women and children. Therefore, in the name of all that is good, we have a moral obligation to halt the harm. This is why we cannot, and will not, stand down. Stop MVP!

Mama Julz, Ogala Lakota, land defender, water protector, and founder of Mothers Against Meth Alliance, stated: “Today I’m here to bring awareness to the issues of man camps and their connection with the drugs and sex trafficking that leads to missing and murdered Indigenous women. These issues are really important to me because I fight meth, not only in my territory but in a lot of Indigenous territories across Turtle Island. Any time you desecrate Mother Earth, raping Mother Earth, it’s raping our sisters, too. It’s all one big connection, and that’s why we have this rise in our missing and murdered Indigenous relatives.

“Man camps,” as Mama Julz is referring to, are housing complexes that provide accommodations for hundreds (often thousands) of temporary workers, commonly associated with the fossil fuel industry. They’re frequently seen in remote locations along pipeline construction routes and near oil and gas fields. In any small or rural community, a massive influx of transient men is a recipe for disaster. Man camps have a devastating impact on Indigenous communities in particular, where they contribute to a surge of substance abuse, sexual assault and other violent crimes, leading to a rise in the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women — a continuation of the lethal violence and abuse that European colonizers have imposed on Native women for hundreds of years.

DONATE to help cover legal costs and support ongoing resistance: bit.ly/SupportMVPResistance

 

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″