Mountain Valley Pipeline & Climate Change

President Biden must stop methane pipelines to deliver on climate change and environmental justice

Opinion Editorial by Crystal Cavalier & Michael E. Mann, USA Today, June 21, 2021

Four years of President Donald Trump have cost America dearly. We lost our global leadership on addressing climate change and saw the struggle for environmental justice thwarted here at home. President Joe Biden has defined both of these objectives as cornerstones of his legacy, but a huge interstate methane gas pipeline now being rammed through the Appalachian Mountains threatens to undermine the progress his administration has promised.

The 42-inch diameter Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) would run 303 miles from West Virginia to Virginia, and it is one of the biggest U.S. gas pipelines in process. The pipeline’s climate impact is estimated to be equivalent to about 23 typical coal plants, or more than 19 million passenger vehicles. That does not include a proposed 74-mile extension of the pipeline into North Carolina.

Methane gas is a climate change double whammy. It’s a fossil fuel and, when burned for energy, releases the planet-warming greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. But methane itself is a very potent greenhouse gas, and when some of it inevitably escapes into the atmosphere during hydraulic fracturing, we get further warming.

Yet these harmful pipeline projects continue. Two other major interstate methane gas pipelines, the PennEast and the Pacific Connector, are being challenged, while more than a dozen are waiting for approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – each another nail in America’s climate coffin.

A recent national analysis found that the vast network of existing transmission pipelines are disproportionately concentrated where people experience high levels of “social vulnerability,” a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention index of race, socioeconomic status, age, type of housing, language spoken and other factors.

It should come as no surprise that the big energy corporations behind the MVP who are willing to profit at the price of hurricanes, wildfires, floods and droughts are equally willing to trample local people. They even seem willing to trample the dead.

The MVP pipeline and its extension roughly follow the Native American Great Trading Path through Virginia and North Carolina, and tribal representatives are concerned the projects would desecrate sacred sites. Construction of the MVP mainline has already impacted sites on the traditional homeland of the Monacan Indian Nation (federally recognized in 2018), and Occaneechi, Saponi and Tutelo tribes, including a burial mound near Roanoke, Virginia, dating back several thousand years.

Despite requests by tribes for consultation with the FERC to ensure cultural resources were protected, they were largely ignored. The developer, describing the burial mound as a rock “push pile,” has clear-cut the woodlands within yards of the site. Last month, FERC reached out to the Monacan Indian Nation to start consultation.

Then there are the lower-income and elderly rural residents along the MVP route, too often disenfranchised when confronted with these kinds of projects. Almost half of the 17 affected counties in West Virginia and Virginia have poverty rates higher than the respective state average, and 14 of the counties have more elderly than average. Two of the MVP’s three West Virginia compressor stations – significant sources of air pollution – are in counties where 1 in 5 people live below the poverty line, counties “considered environmental justice communities,” according to FERC.

The MVP has also been an unmitigated disaster for water quality. Regulators in the two states have cited the developer for more than 350 clean water violations, amounting to more than $2 million in fines.

Now, the company is seeking permission from federal agencies to bore under or trench through hundreds more streams, rivers and wetlands, threatening countless water resources. In one case, the developer wants to drill under the Greenbrier River in West Virginia, a huge effort that would use 1 million gallons of water and take months, putting at risk the drinking water for a local public service district.

The MVP, announced in 2014, is still roughly only half-built, more than three years behind its original schedule and almost 100% over budget. It’s one of the last-ditch efforts of the fossil fuel industry to squeeze out every penny in profit before it goes the way of the dinosaurs. It’s also a clear example of the colonizer mentality of industry special interests, who have done unimaginable harm and put the planet in a climate crisis.

We fervently hope the Biden administration intends to make genuine progress on the paired crises of climate change and environmental justice. The MVP, for starters, has no place in that vision for America.

>>> Crystal Cavalier of North Carolina is a member of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Tribe and is working on her doctoral dissertation, “Missing Murdered Indigenous Women in Frontline Natural Gas Pipeline Communities.” Michael E. Mann (@MichaelEMann) is director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center and author of “The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet.”



TAKE NOTICE — Our Earth Needs Protection

“Walk For Our Grand – Children 2021”

Elders walk for climate justice for posterity

From an Article of FOX 56 News, June 20, 2021

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY, PA — Steve Norris will walk from Scranton to Wilmington, Delaware to try to get President Biden’s attention.

“President Biden was born in Scranton and we thought the symbolism of his birth place would be a really good place to start,” said Steve Norris of Asheville, North Carolina. “The purpose of this walk is to get President Biden’s attention so that he will do more to confront climate change than he’s already doing.”

The 78-year-old will walk about 45 miles of the 175-mile trip. His reason is his grandchildren. “I want them to have an earth that is livable and I’m afraid that if we don’t address this the science is very clear,” said Norris.

Norris helped organize Walk for our Grandchildren 2021. Where is he joined by other environmental activists from all over the country. They’re marching together for climate justice in both the nation and in northeast Pennsylvania.

“I am walking for my only grandchild who is going to be nine in a couple of weeks, but I am walking for all children not yet born. Because this is a crisis. We are really at a tipping point and if we don’t stop digging the hole deeper, we won’t get out of the hole,” said Melinda Tuhus of New Haven, Connecticut.

The group will make various stops along the way, with key protests in Bucks County and Philadelphia.

“One of the key reasons we’re all here is to support local fights. Pennsylvania has been from the beginning ground zero on the development of fossil fuels,” said Tuhus.

Their march begins Monday, June 21st, and their first stop is at the Keystone Sanitary Landfill. The walk will take eight days and they are hoping others join them along the way.


Message to Maury Johnson, Stop the Pipeline WVVANC, June 20, 2021

When I look at my 5 year old grandchild with her shiing eyes and impish grin sometimes my heart aches for the world she is inheriting. I am so grateful you are walking on behalf of all grandchildren. My spirit is with you. May you be surrounded not only by fellow walkers but also by the many who accompany you in spirit.

>>> Rose Edington, June 20, 2021


If You Are Concerned About the MVP, Submit Comments by June 22nd

June 20, 2021

Protecting trout relies on rigorous pipeline oversight From the Letter by Randy Kesling, Charleston Gazette-Mail, June 20, 2021 A saying among anglers is that trout don’t live in ugly places. It’s a nice reminder of what we love about West Virginia and the cold, clear, clean, fishable waters of our mountain home. West Virginia has [...]

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LIVING ON EARTH — Health Effects from Fossil Fuel Combustion

June 19, 2021

One in Five Premature Deaths Result from Fossil Fuels From Living On Earth, PRX, Air Date: Week of June 18, 2021 Fine particulate matter produced from fossil fuel combustion is known to cause numerous health issues, and a recent study finds that this pollution is responsible for one in five early deaths worldwide, hitting people [...]

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Climate Change is Glaringly Obvious in the Western Heat Wave

June 18, 2021

CLIMATE CHANGE SPELLS SEVERE HEAT OUT WEST Climate Experts’ Predictions Come True With US Heatwave — ‘Surreal’ and ‘Distressing’ From an Article by Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams News, June 18, 2021 As what the National Weather Service described as “dangerous and record-breaking heat” affects 50 million people across the Western United States even before the [...]

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The Future of Our Energy & Environment in Hands of Elected Officials

June 17, 2021

Pennsylvania is Facing Extremely Important ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT Decisions in Near Term To Editor: Williamsport Sun-Gazette, June 15, 2021 The recent column by PA State Sens. Gene Yaw and Scott Martin on “Energy production important to Pennsylvania’s environmental future” shows that they do not appreciate the urgency of the global climate crisis.  Pretending that the problem [...]

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NEWS UPDATE: PA Gov. Wolf Meets Strong Resistance in Controlling GHGs

June 16, 2021

The Pennsylvania RGGI Veto Means More Greenhouse Gases From an Article by the WKOK Staff, Harrisburg, PA, June 15, 2021 IMAGE — Pennsylvania’s GHG emissions alone are more than the total of the 9 original RGGI states in the northeast HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Republicans who control Pennsylvania’s Legislature are reprising a fight from last [...]

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Blending Ethanol to Gasoline is Expensive for Refineries

June 15, 2021

Biden considers giving refiners relief from U.S. biofuel laws From an Article by Jarrett Renshaw & Stephanie Kelly, Reuters News Service, June 11, 2021 IMAGE — Gasoline Station in Mason City, Iowa, Selling E-15 With 15% Ethanol NEW YORK — President Joe Biden’s administration, under pressure from labor unions and U.S. senators including from his [...]

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US Blocks G7 Progress on Phasing Out Coal, Intent on Appeasing Sen. Manchin

June 14, 2021

“Once again Joe Manchin is casting a heavy shadow.” From an Article by Julia Conley, Common Dreams News, June 14, 2021 Monday brought fresh outrage among climate campaigners after the G7 Summit ended without a commitment to ending coal extraction in some of the world’s richest countries. Five of the seven delegations—all but the U.S. [...]

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June 13, 2021

Moving fracking wastewater in barges up and down Pittsburgh’s rivers is ill advised (continued) From an Article by Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 31, 2021 NOTICE — Mil­lions of gal­lons of briny, toxic, waste­wa­ter from shale gas drill­ing and frack­ing op­er­a­tions could soon be loaded onto barges and pushed down the Al­le­gheny, Mo­non­ga­hela and Ohio [...]

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