jr pipeline 062315 p01

Evelyn Reilly, 12, stands in Little Creek in Rocky Mount last month. Below: A no trespassing sign sits on the Reilly family’s property. The Reilly family is trying to prevent a proposed pipeline that would cross their property from being installed.

Photos by JOHN ROARK | The Roanoke Times

By Guy W. Buford

Buford is a retired civil engineer living in Franklin County.

This is in response to your editorial posted July 23 entitled “Why do exports matter?” It has mattered from the very beginning of this project. Exporting matters when one considers that Europe is less than diligent in the development of its capability to frack its shale deposits and giant European energy companies are heavily invested in the U.S. fracking industry. Yes, it matters.

A lot in your editorial was predicated on the speculation of Franklin County getting a tap into the MVP. Do you really believe this is economically feasible? If this pipeline is built, the odds of this coming to pass are, at best, remote. For the sake of discussion let’s assume that this pipeline is constructed with no taps. Now all we would have is a 300-mile long 42-inch pipeline with the possibility of gas moving through to other markets, with no benefit to the landowners involved along the way.

Now let’s look at the construction and the terrain over which this pipeline is proposed to be installed. The MVP will cut a 300-mile long by 125-to-150 foot wide path through the Appalachian Mountains cleared of all trees and vegetation and graded to accommodate the giant pipe laying and excavation equipment. Next will come an 8-foot wide by 8-foot deep trench for the placement of the pipe. This construction will proceed up and down steep mountain slopes, along the side of other steep mountain slopes, along mountain ridge lines and across and along mountain streams. This is rugged terrain. It should not be too difficult to visualize the devastation that will result, particularly when the erosion and sedimentation control will be planned, regulated and inspected by the pipeline company.

These Appalachian Mountains are not just another system of mountains. These Appalachian Mountains are populated by people, many of whom have been on this land for generations and who have a cultural attachment to their land. This information does not appear on Google Earth. All of these people depend on ground water for their water needs. Can we imagine what may happen to many of the wells and springs along the way that could be affected, damaged or destroyed, with out some responsible oversight by federal and state agencies. Some of these streams encountered along the way also serve as source waters for communities in the foothills of the Appalachians and beyond.

It quickly becomes obvious that water is the overriding concern of landowners on or near the path, of the MVP. When the Appalachians provide the source waters for the wider community, the importance becomes magnified. Consider also that the United Nations reports that we have 15 years to avert a full-blown global water crisis and that, by 2030 demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 percent. In the U.S. it has been the mismanagement of our water resources by individuals, corporations and governments, that continues today, and is largely responsible for this gloomy outlook. This projection pertains not only to the global south but also to North America and Europe as well. It is now apparent that the MVP is more about water than it is about gas.

How do we deal with all this? This pipeline is coming if we don’t stop it. Let us do what we can to get this water issue out front. All of us, on or near the path of the MVP, let’s pick up our water glasses filled with pure spring or well water from our different sources, savor it and celebrate that we have it today.