‘Anatomy of a Crime’

Melinda Tuhus, Sept. 11, 2023 blog

We four grannies deployed before dawn on a road near the Mountain Valley pipeline right-of-way across the Green-brier River, each with one foot inside a concrete barrel, sitting in our famous rocking chairs, holding a banner that said Rocking Chair Rebellion. Ahead of us was another rocker holding a sign in bold red letters, STOP ELDERS AHEAD, so cars coming our way would have plenty of notice to stop. Another two women locked down to the drill that was preparing to bore under the Greenbrier – a beautiful river I’d walked along last year as part of the Walk for Appalachia’s Future that, at 162 miles, is the longest undammed river in the eastern U.S….

We stopped work for a total of five hours, and were charged with trespassing, obstructing an officer, and violating West Virginia’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, which had just gone into effect. All misdemeanors, although the cops said we’d be charged with domestic terrorism felonies if we didn’t leave, and that was a possibility. These new laws in many states around the country are meant to intimidate folks from taking action to protect the real critical infrastructure – the pure, delicious drinking water, clean air and beautiful mountains. The MVP is being built across the steepest terrain in the country, threatening landslides. Thanks to the blog Heated, I learned that a peer-reviewed study in 2021 found that the MVP has the highest landslide risk out of all the long-distance gas pipelines in the U.S. ​
And then there is the karst, which makes the river one of the worst possible places to drill. …This green “moonscape” of collapsed craters is a unique problem for development as … it is impossible to tell how large a cave system is by looking at the surface, and developers often build their structures too close to the open spaces beneath the ground.

There’s also a big problem with the coating on the pipes having deteriorated after they sat in the sun for five or six years. Best practice is to recoat them at the factory, but the company is just burying some of them without recoating at all, increasing the risk of ruptures and explosions.

So, building the pipeline is the real crime, and could only finally go forward when the US Congress, at Sen. Joe Manchin’s bidding (with full backing from Sen. Chuck Schumer and President Biden), took the matter out of the hands of the Fourth Circuit appeals court (which had consistently ruled against the MVP, for its many violations). Then the US Supreme Court approved all the remaining permits…

What is the role of nonviolent direct action (NVDA) in campaigns to stop the fossil infrastructure that’s killing the planet and ruining the lives and livelihoods of local residents? … One local woman told me we have to keep disrupting because we can’t just let it be built without doing everything in our power, nonviolently, to stop it. … Sitting on the wide porch, looking out over the beautiful mountains, the fog and the nighttime stars, I felt very much a part of a wonderful community where people love and support each other. Also, I haven’t laughed so much maybe ever. It gives us the strength to go on.

Read the article in its entirety: www.melindatuhus.net/blog.

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