Demonstrators create blockade downtown in protest of Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Posted at 8:38 AM, Feb 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-23 14:42:04-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- The "Richmond People's Climate March" created traffic disruptions early Monday morning. The march began at 7 a.m. at the Capitol Bell Tower and demonstrators headed to 2nd and Tredegar Streets, where they blocked traffic. A post on social media called for others to join the blockade near Dominion's offices.

The group, some dressed in costumes, carried environmentally political signs that expressed sentiments about fracking and the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The ACP is a 550-mile natural gas pipeline that will travel through the state, including national forests, the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway.

The project is backed by Dominion Virginia Power, Duke Energy, and Piedmont Natural Gas and has yet to be approved by the Federal Regulatory Commission. Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced his support of the project in Sept. 2014 and called the project "good for the environment."

“In addition, this will allow Dominion, who has coal plants that are 50, 60 years old, which they plan on shutting down — this is a lot less emissions," McAuliffe said. "So what we’re doing today is great for the environment. . . . This is a win-win today for everybody.”

Protesters said they believe Dominion and other energy suppliers have not invested in renewable energy sources in a significant way.  The group called for politicians and power providers to shift a focus away from the use of fossil fuels, which they say is killing the environment.

Richmond Police issued nine summons for blocking Tredegar St. and arrested one woman for disorderly conduct.  A spokesperson said RPD respects the groups freedom of assembly, but had to step in after several people refused to move out of the street.

Other recent protests in Richmond that resulted in street closures but did not result in summons or arrests.  Police said this situation was different because this group did not agree on a time frame for when they would move to sidewalks and nearby parking lots.

CBS 6 contacted Dominion Virginia Power about the protest, but a spokesperson said they would refer their response to the Richmond Police.

A general location map of the pipeline can be seen below.