I’ve had the pleasure of organizing in Hampton Roads for almost two years now. Climate activists like you have stood beside me as we fought off the threat of offshore drilling on our coast. We’ve come together to tell our personal accounts of living on the front lines of sea level rise through Flood of Voices. We even bothered our local paper, The Virginian-Pilot, so much that they dedicated a section of their website to sea level rise. However, there is another threat that calls us to action yet again: Fracked-gas pipelines.
Virginia’s polluters are moving forward with their plans to construct the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) even though they would be locking our coastline into catastrophic climate repercussions. This egregious disregard for public health and lack of foresight has sparked a fire under activists in the Shenandoah Valley and Southwest Virginia. They have shown up to public meetings in droves and they are tirelessly fighting the construction of these fracked-gas freeways.
But they can’t do it alone.
We on the coast have a special obligation to join the fight against these pipelines (and we already are taking action). Throughout the spring and summer, activists in Hampton Roads held meetings with ten legislators urging them to weigh in for a full and fair federal review of both the ACP and the MVP. The long-term effects of an influx of fracked gas into our state will be felt first in Norfolk and the rest of Hampton roads through rising sea levels and more coastal flooding. The immediate impacts will touch us, too. In the Deep Creek community in Chesapeake, landowners and low-income residents face the prospect of the ACP coming into their backyards. Plus, we know what can happen when coastal residents come together to say NO to a fossil fuel project (remember that offshore drilling proposal?).
Across the Commonwealth, there is one more unifying reason why we should be fighting these ludicrous pipelines: water. We all need it, and we all prefer it to be clean. So why would we risk the safety of what pours out of our faucets when we can produce energy from clean sources like offshore wind instead? These pipelines present a very real threat to the thousands of streams, rivers, waterways, and wetlands that have a direct impact on Virginians’ drinking water and to our efforts to remediate the Chesapeake Bay.
The statewide resistance has already begun: over 600 climate activists marched on the Governor McAuliffe’s mansion with a unified message that called for clean energy instead of fossil fuel infrastructure. Just a couple weeks ago, activists across the state (and the country) came together for an event called Hands Across Our Land where they joined hands to loudly proclaim their opposition to pipelines anywhere and everywhere!
Teach terryNow, as the Federal Environmental Regulatory Commission prepares an Environmental Impact Study for each pipeline, the resistance must intensify. We expect FERC to release its environmental review of the Mountain Valley Pipeline any day now. But this decision isn’t a federal one alone. Governor McAuliffe has the power to direct his Department of Environmental Quality to deny the Clean Water Act permits for both pipelines and we need to make it VERY clear that it would be in the best interest of the people and our climate that he does just that. Because we know that he sometimes struggles with science of climate change (Just do a quick search of #TeachTerry).
The time is now to join us in fighting off yet another attack on our climate in Virginia. Contact me at harrison@chesapeakeclimate.org and I’ll plug you into one of our community action teams near your city: there, you will gain the tools that you’ll need to be the changemaker Virginia’s climate movement has been waiting for! I can’t wait to celebrate another victory with you.

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