The powerful stories of Native Americans standing together to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which would carry crude oil and threaten the water rights of the Standing Rock Sioux, have riveted national attention to the risks inherent in our dependence on dirty energy. Appalachian Voices supports this tribe’s resistance, recognizing the common ground between their struggle in the Great Plains and the fight for environmental and energy justice in the Appalachian Mountains.
Across the country, we are at an energy crossroads. In the mid-Atlantic, the fossil fuel industry is pushing to build multiple interstate pipelines to carry fracked natural gas through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina — even though several reports show that they are not needed to meet expected demand.
The choices are clear. We can spend our hard-earned money to support more fracking and the construction of hundreds of miles of massive pipeline, degrading our treasured landscapes and waterways along the routes and posing health and safety risks to families. Or, we can invest in truly clean energy, creating jobs in our region and helping us break free from our dependence on fossil fuels. Energy experts say that supporting energy efficiency and renewable energy would cost ratepayers less than building the pipelines.
Deepening our reliance on fracked gas — a top source of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas — would also hasten climate change, which is already affecting Appalachia. These shortsighted expenditures on fossil fuel infrastructure would pump up the bottom line of utilities and gas companies at the expense of ratepayers and landowners. To counter those special interests and advance the common interests of a stable climate, healthy communities and a clean environment, we need to stand together.
Fortunately, a vigorous, multi-state citizen movement to defeat these pipelines continues to grow. Environmental advocates concerned about the potential for leaks as the pipeline traverses rugged terrain are working side by side with local landowners who are opposed to their land being seized for private companies’ benefit.
The coming months are critical. Federal regulators are now accepting public comments regarding the environmental impacts of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, and a public comment period for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline is expected to begin in December. This gives citizens a clear opportunity to be heard. Let’s seize it together.
For a healthy and sustainable future,