Action report from Appalachians Against Pipelines on lock-down that shut down Mountain Valley Pipeline construction.
Newport, VA — Early Tuesday morning, pipeline protester Alice Elliot climbed a piece of construction equipment at a Mountain Valley Pipeline work site in Giles County, VA and locked herself to it, suspended 20 feet in the air. Banners hanging at the worksite read, “The Fight Continues” and “Where Will You Go When The Waters Rise?”
Alice slowed work at the site for 4 hours before she was extracted and arrested. Her bail was set at $1,000 and she was charged with one felony (unauthorized use of a non-vehicle >$1,000) and three misdemeanors (obstruction of justice; interfering with property rights of another; and property damage of a vehicle, aircraft, or boat).
“By locking myself to this equipment, I’m stopping MVP from using it and costing them tons of money, but this is just one form of resistance,” explained Alice. “Being arrested while doing lockdowns is often glamorized and upheld as the ultimate way to be an activist, but all kinds of resistance are necessary and happen every day. From long-term jail support for incarcerated people, to labor organizing at warehouses and factories, to fighting for police abolition, to babysitting and organizing childcare at actions, many different routes are being taken to revolution. Even something simple, like someone taking the leap to go to therapy and work on their shit — that matters.”
Nearby, a rally of over a dozen folks gathered in support of Alice’s lockdown. People chanted “Free Wren! Free Acre!,” and “Water is life!,” holding signs that said, “No Pipelines, No Compromise,” “Stop Fracking Our Future,” and “Protect Our Water.” Many passing by honked and waved in support.
Alice Elliot has stopped active construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Giles County, VA, by locking herself to construction equipment, suspended ~20 ft in the air! MVP has been unable to use the equipment that Alice is locked to since 7 am this morning. #nopipelines pic.twitter.com/NO01KCqnCE
— Appalachians Against Pipelines (@stopthemvp) April 20, 2021
Karolyn Givens, owner of the Giles County Historic Leffel Farm stated: “I hear there is some resistance in Newport! I wonder why??? MVP is dynamiting family farms, working as fast as they can up and down our beautiful steep mountain sides in this historic tight knit community. They’re threatening our water and damaging our farms. They are threatening our very lives putting this 42 inch pipe with 1400 PSI of fracked gas right through the center of the village, placing the whole community in the blast evacuation zone. Yes, we need to make our voices heard in every way possible! I know that I will not and cannot quit resisting this money making boondoggle that is only helping its wealthy investors.”
Donna and Joe Pitt, residents of Giles County, added: “While we may be too infirm to risk physical harm ourselves, we stand with and applaud those who are willing to uphold their beliefs with their direct action in our fight against the Mountain Valley Pipeline.”
The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a 42-inch diameter, 300-plus mile, fracked gas pipeline that runs from northern West Virginia to southern Virginia, with a proposed 70-mile extension into North Carolina. Staunch resistance to the pipeline has existed since its proposal in 2014. The MVP contributes to climate change, increases demand for natural gas (and as a result, fracking), and is entrenched in corrupt political processes. It endangers water, ecosystems, and communities along its route. The failing pipeline project is years behind schedule, several billion dollars over budget, and is still missing key permits — including permits to cross streams, waterways, and the National Forest. Until recently, MVP was unable to work in Giles County based on its proximity to the Jefferson National Forest. In early April, the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice asked Governor Northam to issue a moratorium on all new fossil fuel projects.
Meanwhile, Acre and Wren are currently being held in jail with no bail for misdemeanor charges after their extraction from the Yellow Finch tree sit, which blockaded the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline for 932 days. Before they were arrested, Wren said, “The fight continues, and the struggle for a better world always will.” The banner hanging at today’s action is a reference to Wren’s statement.