By Amanda Tandy, 350 Loudoun
Hello you magnificent creature. There’s a lot of resisting that needs to be done these days and I can see you’re resisting your heart out. I’m ready for some guiltless fun and can see by the “GAHHHH!!! THIS WHOLE THING IS ON FIRE!!!!!” twinkle in your eyes that you are, too.
To that end, 350 Loudoun is hosting the Underachievers 0.5k Marathon and Fundraiser inspired by Governor Northam and David Paylor’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and we want you to run/jog/saunter/swagger/walk/relay with us to support pipeline fighters and have a good time while making a difference. Not that yelling shame at the White House or the Trump International Hotel every weekend isn’t a good time. Because it is really cathartic. We are just proposing something more low-key, close to home, with beer and potentially influential in state-level policy.
Our proposal is this: roll out of bed on Saturday, September 8th. Gather your crew together. Show up at Twinpanzee Brewery in Sterling at 1 PM. Grab some food and beers and/or participate in one of our super fun games. Listen to some awe-inspiring speakers from frontline communities. Get your most or least underachieving outfit judged and maybe win a prize. Then, the marathon (all approximately 1,000 steps of it) is on!
Why would we lampoon a Democratic Governor and his DEQ during a critical swing election season? Glad you asked and we like your moxie. We’re doing this for a variety of reasons and they are as follows:
- Northern Virginia Is Powerful AF in State Politics and with Great Power Comes Great Responsibility – This probably is obvious, but NoVA gets its way as often as we do because we have the mostest of all the things except for functional traffic patterns. As such, our Southwestern neighbors could use some of our time, influence and leafy greeny spendy money. They’ve got legal bills to pay, y’all. SWVA needs its NoVA neighbors to start speaking out at greater volumes against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and pressuring our elected reps and state-level rep (that’s you, Doctor Governor) to do the right thing and revoke the state level water quality permits for these projects.
- The MVP is Destroying Water Right Now and We Can’t Wait for There Not to Be an Election – You know how the Roanoke and James Rivers are so glorious they make your heart hurt? You know how when you drive anywhere near the Jefferson or Washington National Forests you want to do the twirl from “The Sound of Music”? You know how you take personal pride that the longest segment of the Appalachian Trail runs through Virginia? You know how you giggle knowing the lodge from “Dirty Dancing” is on Mountain Lake in SWVA? It’s ok. A lot of us feel that way. All of that is being threatened along with personal water supplies for hundreds of families and protected habitat for endangered species. Since Governor Ralph Northam and the DEQ under David Paylor’s leadership are responsible for protecting water quality in Virginia, they’re both failing at their jobs. MVP construction is well underway, has already caused plenty of erosion and runoff problems, and has received a little more than a finger wag over it from DEQ. Check out these pictures of what construction is doing to a beautiful part of our state and then try not to be enraged/disgusted/motivated to do anything you can to protect them.
- These Are Some Racist and Classist Infrastructure Projects – Union Hill in Buckingham County, VA is a predominantly African American community. The folks who live here are likely to be the descendents of freedmen. Know what else? They get to have the only compressor station for the ACP in the Commonwealth! Lucky them. In case you were about to be jealous, proximity to compressor stations is linked to all kinds of fun things like skin rashes, gastrointestinal, respiratory, neurological and psychological problems. Many of the people who live in the community are also retirees. Imagine if someone was going to park a diesel engine on your meemaw’s lawn and run it all day, every day and you’re almost to the reality of what this community is facing. In addition to that little bit of joy, the pipelines run through areas which are more economically disadvantaged, rural and with higher populations of African Americans and Indigenous Americans per capita than average compared with the rest of the state. This has prompted the Virginia NAACP to request all construction be halted immediately until all issues are resolved. And the North Carolina segment of the ACP seems like it was routed to impact as many Indigenous Americans in that state as possible, because why would black and brown people in North Carolina get to have nice things like clean air and water? And if all of that wasn’t enough to convince you, even the Governor’s own Advisory Council on Environmental Justice gave the pipelines side-eye.
- Doctor Governor and DEQ Director David Paylor Are Being No Better Than Common Trumps on This Issue – Our otherwise gentlemanly governor is having a case of the “I dunno”’s when it comes to the ACP and the MVP. He says lots of dopey things when pressed on the issue like “We’re using science…We’re doing everything that we can to make this environmentally sound”. There is no way to build these pipelines in an environmentally-responsible way. First, you can’t say you believe in climate change, know that it’s human caused by the burning of fossil fuels, state that we need to move from fossil fuels to renewables like wind and solar and then allow two enormous (not hyperbole-the diameter of the pipelines is larger than that of a hula hoop and they’ll run for almost 1,000 combined miles through Virginia alone) and then proceed to shrug your shoulders when the opportunity to stop the doubling of greenhouse gases from your state appears! Second, there is no one, not scientists, not lay people, not anyone but the direct financial beneficiaries of the construction of these pipelines, who thinks that you can route 42” pipelines over the Appalachian Mountains, which have slopes of up to 70 degrees along the proposed routes, without environmental disasters happening. It’s a bad idea that could lead to explosions like this one. If the governor is using science, he must be getting his science from the same place the flat earth crowd does. The Nationwide 12 Permit (NWP12) permit seems super duper to Governor Northam, even though a federal judge found that the Army Corps of Engineers failed to perform an adequate study of the Dakota Access Pipeline’s environmental consequences and there is no indication that Virginia waterways will fair any better.
- DEQ Director David Paylor is a fan of the Virginia Way and that’s all we have to say about that so we don’t have to have his name in our mouths any longer than necessary.
- Virginians Have Jumped through Every Hoop Asked of Them by Regulators like Trained Pomeranians – Thousands of people have commented through the DEQ and State Water Control Board. Hundreds of letters and petitions have been sent to the Governor at this point. Fifty organizations signed onto a letter with the environmental advocacy non-profit Chesapeake Climate Action Network. The people of Virginia have been doing their part and following every ridiculous and redundant request by federal and state agencies to make their opposition to the ACP and MVP abundantly clear. So what recourse does the average Virginian have to address such a failure, especially when confronted with a Governor that’s being dangerously, irresponsibly negligent? Pipeline fighters have done tree-sit protests that lasted a month or longer, locked themselves to construction equipment, and Becky Crabtree hilariously parked her old Pinto right on top of the MVP construction. It is time to fight ridiculousness with ridicule.
- We Need Something Silly Right About Now – Being an adult paying attention to the world and the state of our national politics is heavy these days. Not resisting in some fashion on a perfectly good Saturday also seems out of the question. Hence a very easy, hopefully fun Saturday afternoon together.
- Who Doesn’t Want a Tuxedo Print T-Shirt?
Virginia is beautiful. At this point it’s the citizens (that’s you and me!) that are the last line to convince our Governor the MVP and ACP aren’t needed, don’t make economic sense, probably will explode, and are already hurting our neighbors. Governor Northam is abdicating his responsibility to all of us to protect air and water quality. None of us has time to mollycoddle politicians when we hurt their feelers for pointing out the ways they are disappointing and irresponsible. Maybe ridicule from a gaggle of underachievers will move the Governor and Director Paylor to action. It certainly should.
We love you and hope to see you on Saturday,