Traveling through 469 miles of Virginia and North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) is one of the most historical environmental landmarks of the Appalachian region. Recent reports from the National Parks Service have shown that the BRP supports 16,000 jobs for local parkway employees. In 2018, the BRP had over 14.7 million visitors who spent $1.3 billion on the parkway alone and spent $20.2 billion in surrounding counties supporting 329,000 jobs.

According to the 2018 National Parks Service Visitor Effects Spending Report, visitation of the parkway has been declining since approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) in June of 2018. From 2017 to 2018 alone visitation dropped by 1.4 million and spending dropped $100 million leading to job and salary cuts in the region. Although some believe that visitation will increase upon completion of the pipeline, local consensus attributes the decline to MVP construction. Gambling away a definite source of income for a short-term infrastructure with questionable economic benefits is a mistake.

Since the MVP was announced in 2014, many locals and visitors to the region have resisted its construction in order to protect the mountains, waterways and jobs in Appalachia. At the federal level, Virginian legislators Senator Kaine, Senator Warner and Representative Griffith have been working to gain support from other members of Congress to revise Federal Energy Regulatory Commission standards for future pipeline approval. The proposed Pipeline Fairness and Transparency Act is a start but must be made much stronger to prevent unnecessary destruction of natural landmarks for fossil fuel infrastructure that is outdated before it even goes into service.

At the state level, Senator Stanley, Delegate O’Quinn and Delegate Campbell need to hear from you to increase protections for the existing economies over out-of-state corporate profits. Ask them to stand up against the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

SAVANNA LUMPKIN

BLACKSBURG

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