Democracy, justice, rule-of-law and export-sized gas pipelines cannot coexist. Our minority-ruled and corporate-dominated political system is woefully inflexible to meet 21st century existential environmental imperatives. While global warming smacks us with fires, floods, tornados and rising tides, America stokes the fires with fossil fuels privileges and subsidies.

Fracked gas is no “bridge fuel.” Its long-lived “fossil” pipelines help rescue a financially-failing industry dispose of a post-2008 over-invested fracked gas glut while shredding our democracy. High-capacity pipelines require a gamut of injustices: secret and done deals, charades of public comments, collusion, environmental devastation and criminalizing non-violent citizens who our contorted justice system expects to behave passively while criminal corporations shake them down, stealing the lives and homes they created, their health, safety and clean water along with Appalachia’s natural beauty. Civil and property rights — bedrocks of civilized society also enumerated in the Virginia constitution — are discarded.

Pipelines parade as “progress,” bedecked in rubber-stamped permits, but the Mountain Valley Pipeline lays bare the depths of corruption of Virginia’s corporate Democratic leaders. Our government has lost its way and pits itself against its own traumatized citizens who reject being a sacrifice zone of ruined water and landscapes, uninsurable properties, cancer and birth defects, and three-quarter-mile incineration zones just for MVP’s profits. This corporation-government pact has overstepped.

High-capacity pipelines must end. MVP and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline together equal 45 coal-powered plants — the low-hanging fruit in fighting global warming. First, do no further harm, Dr. Northam! Gov. Ralph Northam continues former Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s secret dealings and pay-to-play giveaways to MVP — double-crossing voters who gave him a landslide based on his stream-by-stream permit promise. Now, confronted with crossing 1,000 unique waterways, MVP’s unworkable, boilerplate plan requires harmful FERC variances — all because Virginia’s “done-deal” leaders ignored citizens’ original, repeated warnings. Wrong on permits, Virginia leaders compound destruction by stonewalling on an MVP “stop-work,” preferring to force higher energy costs on Virginia to uphold the MVP boondoggle.

Fracked gas can be skipped altogether — good reason to halt MVP’s attack on Appalachia — destroyed farms, “decapitated” caves, sediment and toxic heavy metals contaminating waterways and the nightmare of living alongside an explosive MVP which constructs under “improvised engineering” and insufficient inspections. Local rescue squads confronting three-quarter-mile “incineration zones” are advised: “Let it burn — don’t go in.” Is this Virginia, USA where I live, governed by Democrats!?

Responding to the May 18, 2019 Leesburg gathering (Virginians for Justice: Progress Not Pipelines) on Attorney General Mark Herring’s home turf, Herring responded: ...the A.G.’s job is “to enforce the terms of permits and end violations...” Translation: No stop-work despite more than 300 criminal violations! But Del. Chris Hurst’s May 23 letter co-signed by numerous state colleagues, details continued violations! Concerning pipelines, the Northam-Herring duo places themselves squarely on President Trump’s climate-denial team — not to be trusted with Virginia’s future. Virginia legislators must intervene to save the “wealth” in Virginia’s Commonwealth. Otherwise, all Virginia is open to free-for-all corporate plundering. Is this America — birthplace of the Clean Water Act?

We’ve gotten to know MVP this year: incompetent, water-destroying and grossly inappropriate to America’s needs. Parent company EQT lied: MVP is no “good neighbor.” Even with favors from FERC, the DEQ, and the courts, MVP faces formidable challenges and will likely fail.

What should happen? 1. Virginia’s top law-enforcer, Attorney General Herring: Don’t negotiate MVP crimes. Stop work! 2. Banks: Divest from pipelines. 3. Voters: Rid Virginia of corporate Democrats. 4. Equitrans (ETRN): At your Pittsburgh stockholder meeting: Recognize that your MVP “engineering marvel” is an investors’ black hole and cut your losses. 5. Federal courts: Respect environmental rights over corporations. 6. FERC: Transform to “FREC” (Federal Renewable Energy Commission). 7. Congress: place fracking under the Clean Water Act.

MVP advanced with dependence on and faith in corruption but did not count on the following: Appalachians’ tenaciously waging multi-front battles against despoliation and robbery; the fast-evolving energy markets overtaking expensive fracked gas; a few good local and federal judges (excepting Judge Elizabeth Dillon’s initial action granting MVP’s “quick-take” theft of private property); and the power of the Endangered Species Act.

MVP epitomizes failed democracy. As we fight to end this corporate takeover of our future, we implore empowered leaders, federal courts, legislators and agencies to help stop pipeline injustice while “We the people” struggle in our now dangerously-fragile and significantly-diminished democracy to retain clean water, safety, and a habitable earth. Virginia leaders abdicate in protecting Virginians over thieving corporations. “Stop-work” is long overdue. MVP and accomplices have no rightful place in our democracy. Our plea: Help end the MVP siege of Appalachia!

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