UPDATE: MVP protester locked to excavator at work site in Summers County, WV

UPDATE: SUMMERS COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – At 6 A.M. Wednesday morning, a pipeline fighter locked themselves to a piece of equipment at a Mountain Valley Pipeline site, preventing construction. The anonymous protester climbed atop an excavator and locked themselves to it. Banners at the site read “NO PIPELINES, NO EXTRACTION, NO COMPROMISE” and “MOUNTAIN DEFENDERS, WATER PROTECTORS, STAND WITH US.”

The person on the excavator stated: “11 years. It’s said that’s how much time we have left to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change. The question is, what are we going to do to ensure a livable and healthy planet for all those that will come after us? I am taking this action today to stop construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which is cutting through and destroying the beautiful mountains, forests, and waterways of Appalachia.”

Madi Persinger, a young Summers County resident, stated: “Having the pipeline so close to where we live is one of the scariest prospects we face in our holler. Most of us have well water, so the danger of unclean water is always present. I fully support direct actions like the one happening today that physically halt construction of this dangerous project.”

The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a 303-mile, 42-inch diameter 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 therefore fracking), and is entrenched in corrupt political processes.

Resistance to the pipeline has only grown since its 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 has been delayed by at least 1.5 years.

Today’s action site is adjacent to Blackberry Botanicals forest farm. This farm uses sustainable and restorative techniques to cultivate traditional herbs. In September 2018, MVP dropped proprietary erosion control pellets on the property from a helicopter, jeopardizing the business’ organic certification.

Today is also the 295th day of a tree sit blockade in the path of the MVP near Elliston, VA. Two tree sits — in which pipeline fighters live in uncut trees on the easement — have been protecting some of the last remaining trees on the pipeline’s route since September 5, 2018. In December 2018, MVP requested an injunction against these tree-sitters and their supporters, but the federal judge, in that case, has yet to rule.

The project is in a state of uncertainty. MVP currently lacks permission to cross many water bodies and has been forced to explore alternative 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 continue to believe in the pipeline’s ever-distant goal of completion.

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SUMMERS COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – A Mountain Valley Pipeline protestor has locked themselves to an excavator in Summers County.

The action site is adjacent to a farm called Blackberry Botanicals, at 437 Blackberry Spg, Alderson, WV.

Stay with WOAY News for further updates on this story.

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