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Opinion Why does the Mountain Valley Pipeline matter?

An archeological dig to search for ancient Native American relics on April 2, 2018, before construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline near Roanoke. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

Christina Farver is a climate activist in Sterling.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) is in the news again, thanks to a deal cut by Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.). I live in Northern Virginia in a family-friendly neighborhood surrounded by mature trees and a walking trail that leads straight to the Potomac River. We have all the conveniences — grocery store, library, bank and restaurants. The MVP, a planned natural gas pipeline traversing 303 miles of Appalachia, is hours away. If the construction temporarily disturbs a few people along the way, well, that’s just the necessary price of progress, right?


Why does the MVP matter to me? Because the more than 200 scientists from around the world who wrote the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s February report concluded that we must stop extracting, transporting and burning fossil fuels to have a habitable world.

Because I have a son with friends, and they have plans and they deserve a livable future.

Because the MVP construction is destroying the habitat of two endangered fish — the candy darter and Roanoke logperch — menacing the Jefferson National Forest and threatening countless species that live in Appalachia.

Because climate change is not a future problem; it is a now problem.

Because sloppy MVP construction practices have resulted in more than 300 environmental infractions that were the basis of a community-organized Violation Vigil in Richmond last year. I spoke on behalf of violation No. 210, which happened in Franklin County on Oct. 16, 2019, when MVP developers violated deadlines for eliminating water quality threats. Original permits were granted for the MVP contingent on the pipeline being operational by 2018. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last month approved a request for another four-year extension. At this point, sections of pipeline have been exposed to the elements for years and are visibly corroding.

Because pressurized fracked gas is dangerous and dirty — poisoning groundwater, polluting surface water and devastating landscapes and wildlife. The pipelines inevitably leak and can even explode. The MVP and new fossil fuel infrastructure are obsolete, unnecessary and harmful.

Because Indigenous leaders share traditional wisdom and practices that teach that water is life.

Because we are literally on fire. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, the wildfire season is 3½ months longer and burns twice as many acres than it did just a few decades ago.

Because people and bees and trees and birds and flowers and fish are part of a miraculous interdependent web of life that is on the verge of collapse because of our fossil fuel addiction.

Because our resources need to be directed to renewable energy. We have the technology. We need to end fossil fuel subsidies, nearly $6 trillion globally in 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund, and focus on implementing clean energy solutions such as solar.

Because I will not stand by quietly while Appalachia is used as a sacrifice zone to maintain the profit-driven status quo that is killing our ecosystem.

Because all communities deserve an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, socially just world.

So, does the Mountain Valley Pipeline matter to you? You, too, live on this beautiful, precious, fragile planet.