Yes, to Water, No to Oil!

oil pipe line

Standing behind a large banner proclaiming “Permission Denied,” a coalition of activists from a broad spectrum of environmental groups demonstrated this morning at the U.S. Capitol, calling on both Houses to declare the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) a dead deal. Many held signs reading “Keep it in the Ground” regarding the extraction of fossil fuels and their effect on the environment along with ending the “Dirty Deal” and telling legislators to “Stop Funding Fossils.”

Several landowners spoke to the crowd telling of their dealings with the corporate giants that have gained access to their land through the use of  “Eminent Domain” and its effect on their lives. They all urged everyone to call their elected representatives including Rep. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to end fossil fuel pipeline projects.

Among the landowners was Alan Johns of the Alleghany-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) and Christians for the Mountains (CFTM) who reminded everyone that a “…a year and a half ago the pipeline gave up and shut down because of massive citizen opposition, and that’s why we are here today. We are saying that we will shut down the MVP.” He went on to reflect on the use of eminent domain to gain use of landowners’ private property by imposing a Biblical reference to 1 Kings 21, noting that “Someone [Joe Manchin] who is a senator in West Virginia where I live, who thinks he is king and is playing like he is king and who thinks he can get all he wants” was like Jezebel who in service to her husband Ahab King of Israel accused their neighbor Naboth of blasphemy and was killed in order for the king to gain ownership of his vineyard that he desired as his own.

He accused the energy companies of looking for Jezebels in both the House and Senate to help get their pipeline through and to avoid further spending in litigation to do so. He ended by calling on people to “smoke out and call out the Jezebels for betraying the climate, water and our way of life for now and for future people” by stopping the pipeline.

The project recently gained new life with the blessing of  Joe Manchin who earlier had held out his decisive vote to pass the Inflation Reduction Act until language in support of the project was included. Manchin, it must be remembered, is the well-oiled and well-compensated darling of corporate energy giant PACS who in exchange for his continued support make contributions to his campaign.

After voting against the Biden administration’s Build Back Better Bill, an earlier iteration of  the recently passed bill, he was able to raise $300,000 for his 2024 campaign war chest from various company executives some of whom it has been reported also supported Donald Trump and other Republican candidates.

The controversial MVP project has been delayed numerous times due to issues including lawsuits in which the courts have revoked permits issued by several federal agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. All the revocations and lawsuits brought by activists and landowners among others had delayed completion of the project as well as having substantially increased the associated costs of construction. But now with Manchin’s support and the passing of the bill, it appears the only way to stop the pipeline is for citizen involvement in objecting to its completion.

Red Terry, a landowner and self-described “pain in the butt,” spoke of her experiences with Eminent Domain and a brook on her land which has Tier 3 water (of such purity that is protected as a Outstanding Natural resource (ONR) that the company wants to bypass by drilling under it to route the pipeline. After drilling holes they wanted to dynamite the passage when she stood in their way to stop the detonation. Her husband was able, through the courts, to stay the detonation, but the company at night clandestinely proceeded with detonations despite the “gentleman’s agreement” she further noted that the pipeline route will cross the creek on her property 23 times imperiling both the water and their way of life.

To her further disgust she noted that the pipeline “…will have three 90-degree bends in a half- mile on or near my property which is the weakest link in a pipeline with 1,400 pounds of pressure. So if it’s gonna blow, not only from a rusted pipe it will blow from those 90 degree turns. Now, I was pretty impressed when Biden got a climate deal out. But what good is a step forward if your taken 10 steps back? You cannot have a climate deal if you give free rein to a fossil deal, cause they have walked all over us.”

Activists at today’s rally have promised further action all week in pursuit of their desire to see an end to more pipelines that, as the world has been witnessing with increasing frequency, contribute to the effects of climate change.

(This article has previously appeared in Nuzeink, © 2022 nuzeink all rights reserved worldwide)

Phil Pasquini is a freelance journalist and photographer. His reports and photographs appear in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Pakistan Link and He is the author of Domes, Arches and Minarets: A History of Islamic-Inspired Buildings in America.


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