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“To Hell With Your Permits — Work Stopped At MVP Site In WV, Protester Charged with Felony”

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From Appalachians Against Pipelines:

April 25, 2019

To Hell With Your Permits — Work Stopped At Mountain Valley Pipeline Site In Lindside, WV

[Lindside, WV] — Early Thursday morning, 22-year-old pipeline fighter Holden Dometrius locked himself to welding equipment at a Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) construction site, stopping work. The work site in question is located above the town of Lindside, WV on Little Mountain. Banners on site read “TO HELL WITH YOUR PERMITS” and “NO BORDERS, NO PRISONS, NO PIPELINES ON STOLEN LAND.” 

The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a 303-mile, 42-inch diameter fracked gas pipeline that runs from northern West Virginia to southern Virginia, with a 70-mile extension into North Carolina announced in 2018. The pipeline endangers water, ecosystems, and communities along its route, contributes to climate change, increases demand for natural gas (and therefore fracking), and is entrenched in corrupt political processes. Resistance to the pipeline has existed since it was proposed nearly 5 years ago, including a robust nonviolent direct action campaign that began in 2018.

Dometrius, originally from North Carolina, stated: “The Mountain Valley Pipeline is one of the worst possible things we could build at this point in time. All the science suggests that fossil fuels are killing us. A 42-inch gas pipeline is the complete opposite of an appropriate response to the greatest threat our planet has faced. Climate change is not something we can keep putting off; it needs to be dealt with immediately. Millions of people are dying every year as a result of climate change and its root cause, fossil fuels. 

“We could just let capitalism run its course, let the politicians and regulators sell environmental permits to Mountain Valley Pipeline, and let extraction destroy the planet. That doesn’t make any sense to me. If it doesn’t make sense to you either, then make some moves. Get in the way. If everyone steps up, things could change. So here I am.” 

Yesterday, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) modified the state’s water quality certification standards in such a way that will inevitably allow MVP to construct the pipeline across water bodies using a method that had previously been deemed illegal (and which remains extremely dangerous to impacted waterways and communities). This rewriting of laws comes after a federal court put MVP’s streamlined water crossing permit on hold in June of 2018, in response to a motion filed by environmental groups opposed to the pipeline, because the permit plainly violated WVDEP’s own regulations. Now that the regulations have been changed to suit MVP’s needs, the company will apply for a new permit and construction across waterways will proceed as soon as possible. The banner seen at today’s action is a reference to this endless, thinly veiled corruption that is embedded in the pipeline approval process.

Today is also the 233rd day of two aerial blockades deemed the Yellow Finch tree sits in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. These tree sits, which are located in some of the last remaining trees along the pipeline’s path outside of Elliston, VA, have been protecting the hillside on which they are perched since September of 2018. In December, Mountain Valley Pipeline filed a request for injunction against the tree sitters, asking a federal judge to have the sitters removed, but Judge Dillon has not yet made a decision in that case.

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Statement from Holden Dometrius:

The Mountain Valley Pipeline is one of the worst possible things we could build at this point in time. All the science suggests that fossil fuels are killing us. A 42-inch gas pipeline is the complete opposite of an appropriate response to the greatest threat our planet has faced.

Climate change is not something we can keep putting off; it needs to be dealt with immediately. Millions of people are dying every year as a result of climate change and its root cause, fossil fuels. I’m from so-called North Carolina, but all water is  connected. Colonizers (my ancestors) were complicit in the genocide of the people who originally lived on this land, those who didn’t destroy the land, water, and air. The fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline opened a lot of people’s eyes, but still so many people rely on voting to change the status quo. The ability of individuals to hold enough power to make pipelines happen against the will of the people is what got us into this mess in the first place. Gender, racial, and socioeconomic hierarchies are still screwing everyone over — they’re all unjustified. It’s past time for all of them to end.

I got involved in this fight when I was assigned to write about the neighboring Atlantic Coast Pipeline as a journalist for the NC State University newspaper. I have since documented hundreds of violations along the Mountain Valley Pipeline route. I wrote a letter to the governor of Virginia asking him to stop these pipelines, but he did not care. In fact, he is getting paid to not care. I called the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, but they are also getting paid to not care. If an employee even pretends to care a little bit, they get fired by the governor. We could just let capitalism run its course, let the politicians and regulators sell environmental permits to Mountain Valley Pipeline, and let extraction destroy the planet. That doesn’t make any sense to me. If it doesn’t make sense to you either, then make some moves. Get in the way. If everyone steps up, things could change. So here I am. —Holden Dometrius