Pipeline protest 1128

Photo courtesy Appalachians Against Pipelines

An unidentified protester was found fastened to a piece of heavy equipment about 20 feet in the air Tuesday morning at a Mountain Valley Pipeline construction site on Ellison’s Ridge on Monroe County. West Virginia State Police were on the scene to bring the protester safely down.

 

LINDSIDE — Another pipeline protester in Monroe County was found attached to a piece of heavy equipment at a work site on the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).

A protester climbed and locked him(her)self to a boom tractor, about 20 feet in the air, as supporters gathered nearby, according to Appalachians Against Pipelines.

Hanging from the equipment was a banner reading “ANTIPATRIARCHY, ANTIPIPELINE.” 

The protest was staged on Ellison Ridge, north of Lindside and West Virginia State Police troopers were on the scene working to get the protester down.

On Nov. 19, a protester was perched on top of an excavator at an MVP work site on Rt. 219 in Lindside all day.

West Virginia State Police eventually removed the protester, identified as Steffi Alexandra Klosterman, 25, of Morgantown.

The Monroe County’s Magistrate Office in Lindside said she was charged with obstructing an officer, trespassing, injuring or tampering with a vehicle, and littering.

Klosterman was released on a $3,500 bond the same day.

A series of protests against the 300-mile MVP, which is operated by Pittsburgh-based energy company EQT Midstream Partners and slated to transport natural gas through a 42-inch diameter pipe from north central West Virginia to Chatham, Va., has been ongoing since construction started last year.

Three people fastened themselves to equipment at the same site of last week’s protest where the pipeline crosses underneath Rt. 219 in Lindside.

A few miles south on Peters Mountain, two tree sitters were perched in makeshift tree stands in the path of the pipeline for weeks earlier this year, leaving only after food and water supplies were cut off.

The MVP crosses Monroe, Giles, Montgomery, Roanoke and Franklin counties, and tree sitters have staged protests in each county, slowing the progress of construction.

According to Appalachians Against Pipelines, the unidentified protestor Tuesday said, “I do this for our futures, I am only one person, and this is only one action, but there are many more pipe layers, excavators, machines of exploitation. There are over 300 miles of pipe planned. EQT must face opposition at every mile.” 

Concerns about the pipeline have included the impact on the environment, underground water supplies and karst (caves and sinkholes), especially in Monroe County. The fear of an explosion has also been expressed by residents and landowners impacted by the pipeline.

Questions about the need for eminent domain have also been raised as landowners who refused to grant MVP an easement to cross their land went to court. They have claimed the pipeline is commercial, for private industry and not for the public good.

Most politicians in the region have supported the pipeline, citing income from the severance tax.

Work on the entire length of the pipeline was temporarily stopped in August after a court ruling related to the federal permits MVP obtained to cross national forest land. Although work resumed to help protect erosion from work already done, the company is still barred by court order from crossing national forest land as well as many streams in West Virginia.

MVP said in statement recently it intends to apply for and secure a new permit early in 2019 that will open the way to finish its work.

“With ongoing evaluation of its construction plan, MVP continues to target a full in-service during the fourth quarter 2019,” the statement said. “MVP is committed to the safety of its communities, to the preservation and protection of the environment, and to the continued responsible construction of this important natural gas infrastructure project that will serve homes and business in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast United States.”

The cost of the pipeline, which was initially slated to be finished this year, has risen from an estimated $3.5 billion to $4.6 billion.

According to the Appalachians Against Pipelines, Blacksburg, Va. resident Connie Fitzsimmons supported Tuesday’s protest.

“We don’t need the pipeline, and we don’t want it,” she said. “The science is clear; it’s time to act now. No fracked gas, no pipelines. Renewable energy needs to be supported and implemented. All political means to decline these fracked gas projects have been exhausted and ignored by a broken system. This is a 42-inch-diameter, high-pressure, welded snake of fracked gas being built through steep, mountainous, karst terrain, and through our water sources. It’s not only ill conceived, it’s destructive both locally and globally. I support direct action to save our planet earth, for my children, for the people who are unable to resist, for my community and for all of humanity.” 

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com.