I have a feeling a lot more of these statements are going to be coming out, so I’ll put them all here.
LCDC Statement on Tree-Sit Pipeline Protests, MVP, and ACP
Natural gas is neither safe nor clean. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) present unacceptable risks to water quality, unacceptable contribution to climate change in the form of greenhouse gas emissions, unacceptable threats to social justice in communities affected, unacceptable impact to the forests and wildlife in the Commonwealth, unacceptable risks to human health, and unacceptable use of eminent domain.
To quote Delegate Danica Roem, one of fourteen Virginia legislators who recently held a press conference to condemn construction of the pipelines, “I’m a property rights Democrat and an environmental Democrat, and this is bad for both; We are one Commonwealth…it is our obligation to stand with people in Southwest Virginia. We all represent the Commonwealth of Virginia, we have to be united.”
Democrats in Loudoun are conscientious stewards of the environment, advocates of rural conservation and defenders of social justice. Many in our membership and leadership are alarmed at the treatment of Theresa “Red” Terry, her daughter Minor and others, who are actively engaged in tree-sit protests on their own property to obstruct tree clearing progress on the MVP and ultimately construction of the pipeline itself. Even more disconcerting, one of the enormous compressor stations on the ACP route is planned for Union Hill, a historic, predominantly African American community that was founded by freed slaves in Buckingham County.
“Water is life. The construction of these pipelines poses a threat to hundreds of thousands of Virginians who live near proposed constructions sites,” said LCDC Chair Alfonso Nevarez, “The Department of Environmental Quality needs to do a stream-by-stream analysis of all water crossing that would be impacted by these proposed pipelines before further work is authorized. I am confident that Virginia’s Democratic elected officials will make prudent decisions that will protect human and property rights for our brothers and sisters across the Commonwealth.”
Arlington County Democratic Committee: Take Action on Pipeline Protests
Since Easter, a 61-year old woman called “Red” has been perched in a tree on her own property on Bent Mountain near Roanoke to prevent clear-cutting of trees for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. For more than 30 days, another woman called “Nutty” has kept a vigil high atop a monopod in the Jefferson National Forest to prevent tree felling along that part of the route. All told, there are at least six protesters in the trees of Southwest Virginia and one on the West Virginia border.
In the age of accelerating climate change, Virginia should not be facilitating the development of two 42-inch fracked gas pipelines through some of the most wild and sensitive lands of our Commonwealth. The unprecedented 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline project would cross the Giles seismic zone along steep slopes prone to erosion. It would impact delicate karst geologic formations; any spill or leak could poison the region’s water. The 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline would affect view sheds along the Appalachian Trail. But the developers also plan to build a massive natural gas compressor station that will bring noise and pollution, including airborne methane, benzene, and particulate matter to a historic African-American neighborhood in Buckingham, Virginia, adversely affecting the health of every member of that community.
On April 17, twenty members of the Virginia Environment and Renewable Energy Caucus, including our own Delegates Alfonso Lopez, Mark Levine, Patrick Hope, and Rip Sullivan, wrote to express “concerns with the circumstances surrounding the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Virginia and with the treatment of protesters along the Mountain Valley Pipeline route.” Previously, Delegate Lopez joined with Roanoke Delegate Sam Rasoul urging the State Water Control Board to reject the Atlantic Coast Pipeline noting: “Virginia’s energy customers get nothing out of this deal except condemned land, the threat of contaminated rivers and streams, and climbing energy bills. Virginians deserve better.”
“Arlington Democrats stand with all who are working to protect our climate, lands, and water from these dangerous and unnecessary pipelines,” said Jill Caiazzo, ArlDems chair. “We are particularly concerned by reports that law enforcement agencies are denying protesters food and water in an effort to starve them into ending their vigil.”
While Arlington might not suffer direct impacts, we all will be required to pay a large portion of the estimated $10 billion in pipeline costs which the builders will pass on to consumers in the form of increased utility rates. In addition, this massive new investment in decades-long infrastructure will retard the needed growth of truly clean sources of energy from which everyone in Arlington would benefit.
We join our elected officials in urging Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam and the Department of Environmental Quality to conduct a full, on the ground stream-by-stream analysis of the water impacts of the two pipelines and to complete this review before any construction proceeds. And we insist that peaceful protesters be treated humanely and provided with nutritious food and water.
We urge Virginia to focus on protecting our natural resources and developing renewable energy projects that can propel our Commonwealth to a sustainable future.
What can you do?
You can help deliver this message in two ways.
· Call Governor Northam at (804) 786-2211. Tell him you #StandWithRed and ask him to order law enforcement to give food and necessities to the tree sitters. Urge him to order the Department of Environmental Quality to use its full authority under the Clean Water Act to conduct a detailed, stream-by-stream analysis of each water crossing.
· Call the Department of Environmental Quality at (804) 698-4000. Tell them to halt pipeline construction and conduct a thorough stream-by-stream review to ensure our lands and waters are protected.