RICHMOND, Va. — Hundreds of opponents of a natural gas pipeline rallied on Saturday in Virginia’s capital in advance of an upcoming key regulatory decision.
The Virginia State Water Control Board is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to allow construction of portions of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in wetlands and across over 200 Virginia waterways, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
The Rev. William Barber, a North Carolina-based civil rights leader, told the crowd at Byrd Park that projects like the proposed pipeline are “an abusive sin” that would harm the poor.
The planned 303-mile mile pipeline will take natural gas drilled from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations and transport it through West Virginia and Virginia. A 75-mile extension into central North Carolina is also proposed.
Barber, who is now the head of the national Repairers of the Breach movement among other roles, pointed out how developers of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline cancelled the project in 2020 following fierce opposition by environmental groups and residents along parts of the line’s path.
“We had to fight against one pipeline,” Barber said. “They should have learned by now, Virginians aren’t having this stuff. West Virginians aren’t having it. North Carolinians aren’t having it. They must not know who we are, but they’ll learn.”
Mountain Valley Pipeline spokesperson Natalie Cox called Barber’s message that the project is sinful “an uninformed and unproductive comment.” The pipeline, Cox added, is “designed to provide reliable, affordable, clean-burning natural gas to homes and businesses in Virginia and throughout the eastern United States.”
The proposed North Carolina extension took a hit earlier this month when Virginia's State Air Pollution Control Board voted against a permit for a gas compressor station located in a county that borders North Carolina.