Hello from a platform 50 feet up in a chestnut oak tree! Watching the season change from winter to spring up here, the ice and snow melting off the branches and being replaced with buds and birds and bugs, has been magical and reminds me of the interconnectedness of all life. However, the spring weather has also brought back the chainsaw crews and workers in neon vests, who wish to scare us down or physically remove us from these trees in order to build the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
For those of you who may not have heard about the resistance to the Mountain Valley Pipeline, let me fill you in. The MVP is a 42-inch diameter pipeline that would carry fracked gas from the shale fields of northwestern West Virginia through Virginia for eventual export. To do this, it will cross through extremely steep and mountainous terrain — which has already caused pipe displacement, erosion and water pollution in construction areas — as well as under the Appalachian Trail (AT), across important sources of drinking water for local communities, and through some of the last remaining habitats of endangered species like the Roanoke logperch and the candy darter.
Direct action against MVP construction began over 3 years ago at the Hellbender Autonomous Zone on so-called Peters Mountain, though community members have been resisting the pipeline through legal methods ever since its proposal. The Hellbender Autonomous Zone included a monopod that lasted 57 days, a skypod that lasted 12 days, and tree-sits that lasted 95 days — long enough for MVP to lose its permits to work in the National Forest and to bore under the AT. Blockades and lockdowns to construction equipment continued on during 2018 and 2019, including lockdowns by a local teacher on her family’s land, a local professor, grandmothers, young people, Indigenous pipeline fighters, and a local and her daughter who occupied a tree-sit on their land, among others.
On September 5th of 2018, two new tree-sits on Yellow Finch Lane were first occupied, and now in March of 2021 we are celebrating over 915 days of the Yellow Finch tree-sits preventing the deforestation of this land. Over this time, MVP has repeatedly lost and had to refile for permits, been issued multiple temporary stop-work orders, and pushed back the date they’ve been telling their investors the pipeline will be completed by — they are now more than a billion dollars over budget. While the Yellow Finch ground support camp was evicted in late fall of 2020, there has been no successful extraction attempt of these tree-sits.
The flood of community support we receive up here gives me hope for a different world, one where communities come together and take care of each other, depending on each other to survive instead of the state or market. A world based on reciprocity, integrity, on love for all life. For me, that world has no borders, no walls, no prisons, no police, and no pipelines — we stand in solidarity with folks fighting the Line 3 pipeline in so-called Minnesota, with the Wet’suwet’en struggle against the Coastal GasLink pipeline, with BLM and police and prison abolitionists, and all other anticapitalist and decolonial struggles. Together, we can free ourselves from the chains of capitalism and imperialism, and build the world we’d like to live in.
Part of the reason why I am anonymous is because I could be anyone, even you! To get involved with the campaign against the MVP, email appalachiansagainstpipelines@ protonmail.com or visit Appalachians Against Pipelines on Facebook or Instagram! Or to support ongoing resistance, donate at bit.ly/SupportMVPResistance