Protestors in opposition of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, locked themselves to equipment at construction sites in Virginia and West Virginia in two separate incidents this week.
According to news releases by the group Appalachians Against Pipelines, on Friday, a Blacksburg, Virginia citizen chained himself to equipment at a Mountain Valley Pipeline construction site in Montgomery County, Virginia.
The man, identified as Michael James-Deramo, carried a banner that said “Spark Resistance.”
“We have watched as this pipeline has wreaked havoc — from Brush Mountain to Peters Mountain, from Four Corners Farm to Bottom Creek — not just havoc on the land, but on the lives and mental wellbeing of individuals, and the sanctity of place and safety,” James-Deramo said in the release. “These actions are not just about this stretch of pipe, this stand of trees. These actions are a defiance. These actions are not just about this stretch of pipe, this stand of trees. These actions are a defiance.”
His presence stopped construction for more than six hours, according to the group. He was removed and arrested, but had not been arraigned as of Friday afternoon.
The protest action in Virginia follows another earlier this week in Summers County, West Virginia. There a protestor remained locked to equipment on site for more than seven hours. The unidentified protestor was arrested and charged with two misdemeanors, obstruction and trespassing, and a felony. They were released on bail.
Both protestors said they took action because of concerns over environmental damage caused by construction of the 303-mile, 42-inch natural gas pipeline, as well as future climate concerns.
“Eleven 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?” the protestor in Summers County stated. “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.”
The now $5 billion project was approved by federal regulators in October 2017, but has ballooned in cost and been delayed by numerous lawsuits. It’s been cited hundreds of times for environmental violations.
Last week, Wild Virginia and other environmental groups asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue a stop work order for the project.
A spokesperson for EQT Corp., the project's developer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.