Opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline tried a new tactic Monday: chaining themselves to construction equipment.
West Virginia state police arrested three people who were trying to slow down workers in Lindside, a community in Monroe County, West Virginia. They delayed construction for a few hours on Route 219.
Police cut them out around 10 a.m., about two hours after they received a call. Police said Maxwell Shaw, 24, Evin Ugur, 21, and Sydney White, 18, are all from Massachusetts and are out on bond.
Court documents showed they’re each facing three misdemeanors, one each for trespassing, obstructing and resisting arrest. That could mean up to two and a half years in jail.
Witnesses say about 25 other pipeline opponents came out to watch. One of them was Jammie Hale, who lives in Giles County.
“Very humbling. You see somebody willing to put their life and limb in jeopardy to save my farm, my land, my community. Oh yeah, it’s very humbling,” he said.
He described a tense atmosphere. Witnesses said police threatened to use tasers, pepper spray and batons.
Police are actively attempting to extract protesters and threatening violence in the form of tasers, pepper spray, and batons The people continue to be willing to put their bodies in the way of this pipeline
.@GovernorVA .@AGMarkHerring YOU have the power to #StopThePipelines pic.twitter.com/ecPxkzyVin
— lee williams (@browncolleen) June 4, 2018
Four natural gas pipeline companies that were ordered to repair some erosion along pipeline canals in Plaquemines Parish by a federal judge in August 2017 and May of this year have appealed their case to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The notice of appeal does not contain an explanation of why the rulings by U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo were being challenged.
“We are appealing because while the court awarded only $1,100 in money damages and ordered less than a third of the specific relief requested by the plaintiffs, important issues were wrongly decided and should be reversed on appeal,” said Dave Conover, a spokesman for Kinder Morgan, the parent company for two of the pipeline firms.
In August 2017, Milazzo found that Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. LLC and Southern Natural Gas. Co. LLC, both subsidiaries of Kinder Morgan, and the privately owned High Point Gas Transmission LLC and High Point Gas Gathering LLC, had to repair some of the erosion that had occurred since 1953 along the paths of their canals through property largely owned by New Orleans-based Vintage Assets Inc. in the Breton Sound basin in Plaquemines Parish.
After a September 2017 bench trial aimed at determining what should be repaired, Milazzo ruled in May that the companies had to restore 9.6 acres of wetlands that she found they had allowed to erode, and must pay $1,102 in damages.
The cost of restoring the wetlands could be significant, and a permanent injunction Milazzo issued with her ruling required the companies to maintain the wetlands adjacent to the canals for as long as right-of-way agreements allowing the pipelines to be there are in force.
— kmm9973 (@kim9973) June 4, 2018
More than 500 religious leaders have signed a petition against Enbridge’s proposed new oil pipeline across northern Minnesota, with several delivering a letter Monday afternoon to Gov. Mark Dayton and state utility regulators.
The letter, signed by regional Protestant leaders and ministers of several faiths, called the proposed new Line 3 a “moral issue” — a threat to the environment and Minnesota’s Ojibwe.
Enbridge wants to build a new pipeline across northern Minnesota to replace its current Line 3, which is aging, corroding and operating at just over half-capacity due to safety concerns. The new pipeline, which would restore the full flow of oil from Canada, would run through a region of lakes, rivers and wild rice waters. Wild rice is culturally sacred to the Ojibwe.
“The threat of spills in these water-rich areas puts this project in violation of indigenous treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather,” Julia Nerbonne, executive director of Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, said in a news release. The group of over 400 congregations works on sustainable energy and global warming issues.
Signatories of the petition include the bishop of the Minneapolis Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (the nation’s largest Lutheran synod); the bishop of the Minnesota-Dakotas region of the United Methodist Church; the bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota; and the head of the Minnesota Conference of the United Church of Christ.
More than 100 protesters affiliated with the religious leaders’ petition congregated Monday in a park near the State Capitol.
— Mike Hudema (@MikeHudema) June 5, 2018
The Canadian government’s decision to buy a controversial oil pipeline project is drawing intense criticism from environmental groups and could open the door to legal challenges over its ability to meet the emissions reduction target the country promised to the Paris Climate Agreement.
The Trudeau administration announced last week it would buy the Trans Mountain Pipeline from Houston-based Kinder Morgan for $3.5 billion. Kinder Morgan had threatened to walk away from a planned expansion of the pipeline, which has been mired in lawsuits, if the government could not assure the company it could proceed. Instead of providing assurance, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decided to buy the whole pipeline and proceed with the expansion.
Kinder Morgan secured federal permits in 2016 to build a pipeline parallel to its existing, 65-year-old one. It would increase the volume of crude it could move from the oil sands of Alberta to the coast of British Columbia from 300,000 barrels to 890,000 barrels per day, most of which will be shipped overseas. Kinder Morgan estimated that the new 715-mile pipeline will cost $5.72 billion to build.
The government’s plan to own Trans Mountain is heightening the already intense criticism of Trudeau and his oft-repeated claim that the country can both boost oil production and reduce emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, the country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.
“Trudeau has beautiful speeches and a great reputation as environmentally progressive. But his actual policies involve taking actions on climate change as long as it doesn’t touch the oil industry,” said Keith Stewart, a senior energy strategist with Greenpeace Canada.
Greenpeace has so far worked on public protests of Trans Mountain, but it will now consider whether to sue the administration over its climate policy in light of its decision to own Trans Mountain, Stewart said.
#California just passed a bill making it almost impossible to drill for oil off its coast, even in federal water. No pipelines, construction equipment, or supplies can originate or pass through California. A major victory for our Oceans and #Environment pic.twitter.com/xDqjU3TVnN
— Daniel Schneider (@BiologistDan) June 4, 2018
A journalist arrested last year while covering protests over the Dakota Access oil pipeline has been cleared of criminal trespass charges in North Dakota.
Judge Thomas Schneider ruled Friday that Jenni Monet complied with police orders while reporting on the demonstration, the Bismarck Tribune reported .
“It’s a great day for journalism and for North Dakota in recognizing the essential role that reporters play in shaping our democracy,” Monet said. “Today the court upheld our constitutional right to press freedom, which has never been more important than right now.”
Monet was reporting for Yes! Magazine on police clearing a protest camp in Morton County when she and 75 others were arrested on Feb. 1, 2017, according to court records. Police testified the Last Child Camp sat on Dakota Access-owned property across from the main camp, but demonstrators alleged it was treaty land.
Prosecutor Chase Lingle alleged Monet was guilty of criminal trespass for remaining on the property after police ordered the group to leave.
Schneider said Monet didn’t knowingly break the law when she stayed on the property.
“I believe she thought she was licensed or privileged to be there,” he said.
Morton County police shot @SDezbah in the eye as she was peacefully protesting a pipeline.
Vanessa needed surgery within 3 days to save her vision. Her insurance denied the surgery.
— Bonnie Castillo (@NNUBonnie) June 4, 2018
The school year is almost over, but that will not stop the growing concerns of families, staff and administrations about what for many is their new neighbor – the Mariner East 2 pipeline
Two Chester County school districts with schools located near the Mariner East pipeline project have expressed concerns regarding the project’s safety and appealed to Gov. Tom Wolf for a comprehensive independent risk assessment, according to state Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19 of West Whiteland.
The superintendents of both the West Chester Area School District and Downingtown Area School District wrote to Wolf almost two months ago, but have indicated to Dinniman that they have yet to receive a response.
“The bottom line is our schools, parents, students, teachers, and staff deserve clear answers about the risks associated with this pipeline project and what to do in the event of an emergency,” said Dinniman, one of the project’s most strident critics. “The fact that we still can’t get straight answers about potentially life-and-death scenarios from our state government, including the very agency responsible for pipeline safety, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, is extremely alarming. One has to wonder whether they have answers.”
In a letter to Wolf dated March 29th, WCASD Superintendent Jim Scanlon wrote, “The WCASD has four buildings within 3,000 feet of the pipeline and more than 25,000 residences living on or near the pipeline. For the past 18 months our school district administration and staff have been working with Chester County Emergency Management first responders and have developed safety protocol in the event of a pipeline breach … Without a comprehensive risk assessment, it is difficult to measure our plan against potential risks if we don’t know what they are.”
— Leau Est La Vie Camp (@NoBayouBridge) June 3, 2018
With a mountain meadow as his launching pad, Jason Shelton sent a drone up into the air and steered it toward a spot where construction of a natural gas pipeline is underway.
“I want to go see what they’re doing,” said Shelton, who is part of a citizen group monitoring work on the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
As the drone hovered about 300 feet above the work site, Shelton watched the screen of a hand-held remote control that displayed what was being captured by a camera aboard the tiny helicopter.
“That’s a little concerning,” he said of a partially completed bridge on a construction access road that crosses Sinking Creek in Craig County.
Steven Hodges, a Virginia Tech professor of managed ecosystems and soil science, peered over Shelton’s shoulder and confirmed his suspicions: A silt fence designed to guard against erosion was missing from the south side of the creek.
Shelton navigated the drone back to the meadow, where he logged the time, the date and the location’s latitude and longitude. He and Hodges decided to file the information in a computer database, in case a more clear-cut violation of environmental rules shows up later.
The group of environmental watchdogs — concerned citizens, technical experts and landowners in the pipeline’s path — has been patrolling the pipeline’s linear construction zone through six Southwest Virginia counties since work began earlier this year.
Oh Canada, our home n fossiled land. https://t.co/kc8knXIIbV
— Climate Watcher (@pmagn) June 4, 2018
The distinct sound of a human stepping on a branch woke Minor Terry at 5 a.m. several days after she began a protest of the natural gas pipeline planned to run through her family’s property.
Even the birds on Bent Mountain weren’t awake yet.
She called down from her tree sit to ask who was there. A man responded, “Oh, hi, ma’am. We’re just checking on you.”
Who is we, she asked.
She fumbled for her glasses, found a flashlight and notified her family that stuff was going down. Four Roanoke County police officers were under the tree. It was the morning when contractors for the Mountain Valley Pipeline were to begin cutting trees.
Terry, her mother, Red Terry, and other protesters who took to the trees to try to delay tree cutting for the pipeline earlier this year didn’t know it, but the law enforcement response they were about to encounter was coordinated by the Virginia Fusion Center, an entity tasked with fighting terrorism.
And local sheriffs were recruited to informational meetings of the Fusion Center by the Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Virginia’s Western District.
“It sounds so ridiculous,” Minor Terry said, after learning that entities tasked with fighting terrorism were involved. “At the stage we’re in, we were protesting the trees being cut and the pipeline even moving forwards, so I find it absurd.”
There are just 76 Southern Resident orcas left in the world. We're standing up for them, for people and for our coast.https://t.co/Cy007GVIWv
— BC NDP (@bcndp) June 4, 2018
Two proposed large gas pipelines could pollute valuable groundwater that supplies drinking water across Virginia, according to a report released today by the environmental consulting firm Downstream Strategies, which was prepared for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
This report concludes that the pollution threat from the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines presents a health risk, prompting NRDC to call for further study of water threats by state agencies and the Northam administration while halting the projects.
“Here’s a flashing warning sign: This report confirms that Virginia drinking water is in serious danger from the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines,” said Walton Shepherd, an energy and climate expert at NRDC. “Vast areas of groundwater, as well as hundreds of miles of rivers and streams, are threatened with contamination.”
The groundwater report follows an earlier Downstream Strategies report documenting the pipelines’ threats to drinking water drawn from rivers and streams. It also comes just after landowners near Roanoke were alarmed by streams and ponds turning muddy from rainfall runoff along the route of the Mountain Valley pipeline, on which pre-construction work has begun.
“It’s time for the Northam administration to step up and work with the Water Board to perform the needed thorough assessment of the pipelines’ threats to Virginia water,” said Shepherd. “And if protection of drinking water can’t be assured, the Water Board needs to stop these risky and unnecessary projects, once and for all.”