By Max Rooke
Virginia Grassroots Organizing Assistant, Summer 2017
It’s cooler here in Charlottesville today, and along with the relief that brings, it is also a reminder that summer is drawing to a close.
This is the last day of my internship with Appalachian Voices. But even though my formal time here is over, I plan to continue fighting for clean water.
Last winter, I drove through Newport, Va., on a trip from nearby Blacksburg and was appalled to learn about the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline slated to cross through the town. Blue “No Pipeline” signs perched in front of historic white houses and churches, and a massive sign informed Route 42 drivers that they were entering the pipeline’s blast zone.
It wasn’t an experience I would soon forget, so when I found the opportunity to intern with Appalachian Voices and spend my summer opposing the pipelines, I jumped to apply and soon found myself spending summer in a new city working with a team of determined protectors.
The past two months have allowed me to learn skills I didn’t realize were skills and hear stories from impacted landowners who I would never have met if not for this internship. I talked to people from as far away as South America about the importance of clean water and preserving our local ecosystems, and learned to fearlessly reach out to people and businesses.
The most important thing I learned was how to draw people together around a shared goal, which is the core of grassroots organizing. As I take on other challenges, I’m grateful to the wonderful Appalachian Voices team for helping me learn about how people can work together to protect their environment.
As summer ends, my time with Appalachian Voices is ending as well, but the fight against the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines is as hot as ever. August brings five official public hearings regarding the pipelines as well as two informal meetings and by the end of the month, all three relevant public comment periods will have ended. Although I’ll be in Hampton Roads far from the proposed construction, we’re all downstream.
Come August 14, I will be driving two hours to Dinwiddie, Va., with a jar of water from the Chowan Watershed, which the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would snake through near the Virginia-North Carolina border. That night in Dinwiddie, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will hold its last public hearing regarding either pipeline’s impact on water quality in the state. I will join others in speaking out against the proposed pipelines and protecting our access to clean water from the mountains to my coastal marshes.
Visit this page to learn about upcoming public hearings on the pipelines and how to share your opinions on the projects with state and federal regulators.