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Pop Quiz for Water Protectors: What Does It Mean to “Stabilize” a 42-Inch Fracked-Gas Pipeline, According to MVP?

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by Mara Robbins

On August 15, 2019, Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) “voluntarily suspended work on parts of the embattled project”.  What did that mean? Take a look here at what Tina Badger observed.  This is what they did the entire time they were technically supposed to stop working in August of 2018 as well. “Stabilization.”

It is seductive to believe that the agencies or authorities designated to protect us will, actually, protect us.

THEY WON’T.

On October 15, 2019, after a paltry fine was secured by our impotent Attorney General, Mark Herring, and two lawsuits were won blocking permits by the fourth circuit court, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) asserted that: “While next steps are determined, Mountain Valley is hereby notified that construction activity along all portions of the Project and in all work areas must cease immediately.”

Except that “the exception of restoration and stabilization of the right-of- way and work areas, which Commission staff believes will be more protective of the environment, including listed species, than leaving these areas in an unstable condition.”

Restoration? Stabilization? My god, how can we believe in this anymore? From the same petro-colonizers who have abused communities, ecological and human, for over five years? Why in the world would we trust them to have anything to do with our rivers and mountains and homes except to LEAVE THEM ALONE?

Yes, we are angry. Angry, heartbroken, grieving, jaded and yet still very, very effective. The MVP may think they’ve left us in an “unstable condition” but guess what? We are many and we are unified and we are watching them like teachers in a trial-by-fire classroom. We’ve grown from instantaneous opposition to experienced resistance to a massive movement. And we are NOT. GOING. AWAY.

Answer a survey question to continue reading this content:

What does it mean to “stabilize” a 42 inch fracked gas pipeline, according to MVP?

  • a) Continue to lay pipe
  • b) Continue to dig trenches in order to lay pipe
  • c) Continue to weld pipe together in order to fill trenches with pipe
  • d) All of the above

If you answered “d,” you win! As Maury Johnson puts it, this is a “non-stop” order. We remain vigilant. The FERC has a twisted vision of “stabilization” and will be unlikely to do anything to enforce their own directive if there’s any additional proof of profit. So we will see who tries to succeed in further destruction. Will it be EQT? Or will Dominion swoop in on the heels of hellhounds and try to finish the fight? Remember, they’re a primary investor in MVP’s doomed Southgate project.

Either way, there’s still fighting to be fought.

The people’s patrol is the best shot we’ve got at enforcement right now. We know that our DEQ’s and DEP’s won’t step in and do something useful. We know our Governors are in the pockets of fossil fuel and collusion. We know that blood money buys more blood.

So whatever time we are afforded right now? Based on MVP’s desperate attempts to scramble about legally and extend ridiculous invitations like they did back in August to “engage in a good faith dialogue about these issues outside of the judicial process?”

WE NEED TO USE IT WISELY.

And in terms of “good faith?” I have good faith in the ways and means of the people to insist that this is a climate emergency that must be ACTUALLY addressed. Stop work. Ban fracking. Reallocate the resources wasted on destruction towards something that will contribute to surviving. This is not hyperbolic. We are not facing a hypothetical apocalypse. We are in the middle of one. And if you–yes, YOU–think you can afford to sit back and wait this one out while my friend Maury shivers under blankets trying to warm up after documenting MVP’s continued work for two hours in the rain? If you somehow think you are NOT in harm’s way because you’re not waking up every morning and looking out your window to see what further destruction has been wrought overnight? If you think there’s nothing you can do?

Do something.

And in this case, do something for the Roanoke Logperch. Do something for the Indiana Bat. Consider the small whorled pogonia, an Appalachian orchid. Look out for the Virginia spiraea, a flowering perennial shrub. Because you will not be able to go visit these in an aquarium or a zoo or a tree museum. When they’re gone, they’re gone.

Do something to stabilize our commons rather than shifting wars from fossil fuel to privatization of water and decimation of topsoil.

Save our trees. No, you don’t have to live in one, but consider how you can support the courageous folks who have resided there for over a year.

And do not believe for a moment that a “stop work” order means that the FERC will actually make the MVP stop working. You will have to do that.