Just before 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, May 18, a Mountain Valley Pipeline protester identified as Max locked himself inside a broken-down vehicle outside Pembroke, blocking access to a pipeline construction site.
At 11:30 a.m., Max was extracted and arrested. According to the arresting officer, Max was charged with four misdemeanors and three traffic violations, and his bail was set at $2,500.
The vehicle’s doors were welded shut, the windows were covered with rebar, and the side was painted with the words, “Who Killed The World?” Nearby, over a dozen people gathered in support of the action.
The vehicle blockade was directly adjacent to the Mountain Valley Pipeline easement and prevented workers and pipe trucks from accessing both the pipeline easement and the equipment yard at the site, effectively halting pipeline work in the area. Mountain Valley Pipeline security, workers, and law enforcement were present at the site by 6 a.m. At 9:30 a.m.., law enforcement personnel began cutting into the vehicle blockade.
Max said, “Often, when people who fight extraction talk about the world ahead, we talk about it in terms of the coming apocalypse caused by catastrophic climate change. There is no doubt that unchallenged extraction and consumption are pushing our ecosystems to the brink. Corporations, MVP included, and the so-called leaders that enable and protect them are the answer to that question painted on this blockade, ‘Who killed the world?’”
Montgomery County resident Crystal Mello, who was present at the public rally Tuesday in support of Max’s blockade, said, “There have been many ‘proper’ channels taken, and many protests against the Mountain Valley Pipeline. All have gone unheard. It’s come to the point where it takes measures like this to grab the media’s attention and get people to listen. Meanwhile, MVP still can’t work on Cove Hollow Rd, a site they had to abandon, and I’m currently looking at a hill they have to blast. These are the things that should have caught people’s attention long ago. I stand in support of the protest today.”
The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a 42-inch diameter, 300-plus mile, fracked gas pipeline that runs from northern West Virginia to southern Virginia with a 70-mile extension into North Carolina. The pipeline project is 3.5 years behind schedule, is several billion dollars over budget, and is still missing key permits from numerous agencies. Within the last week, Equitrans Midstream Corporation delayed the projected start date yet again to the summer of 2022 and boosted its estimated cost to $6.2 billion after an original cost estimate for the project of $3.5 billion. The missing permits include the authority to cross streams, waterways, and the national forest.
Pipeline protestors Acre and Wren are still being held in jail after being sentenced on misdemeanor charges for their roles in the Yellow Finch tree sits, which blockaded the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline for 932 days. Reportedly, Acre is scheduled to be released within the next three months while Wren will be released in just under a month.