[Monroe County, WV] — On Tuesday, July 31st, a West Virginia grandmother halted construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) by blockading herself in a 1971 Ford Pinto elevated off the ground at a pipeline worksite. The blockade is being carried out by 64-year old local resident, author, retired schoolteacher, and grandmother Becky Crabtree on the section of pipeline easement that is ravaging the land her family lives on in Monroe County. Banners at the site read “Defend What You Love” and “Resist All Pipelines;” messages on the Pinto include, “Power to the People” and “The Fire is Spreading.” Local residents and protesters have begun to gather at the scene in support of the blockade.
“I have talked to elected officials, signed petitions, written letters, submitted reports, and gone to court. I have exhausted the ‘usual’ methods of fighting injustice and have gotten no relief,” stated Becky Crabtree. “Officials have failed us in this fight; we need to fight for ourselves and each other.” The Pinto used in today’s action has sentimental significance for Becky, as it has been in her family since 1971 and is the car she took on her honeymoon.
Virginia resident Doug Chancey stated his support for Becky’s action: “There is clear scientific proof that we do not need to rely on fossil fuels for energy. The need to make other energy sources
available is urgent, and since the fight in the courts is slow and the pipeline work continues, direct action is necessary to halt construction until the weight of public opinion, fallen stocks, and court decisions sink this project.”
The Mountain Valley Pipeline, a 42-inch diameter fracked gas pipeline, has been met with determined opposition since it was proposed over four years ago. Impacted residents have fought the pipeline with a variety of tactics, including a nonviolent direct action campaign that escalated when construction started earlier this year. In the past 6 months, pipeline fighters have delayed construction by erecting aerial blockades and by locking themselves to construction equipment. The property that the Crabtree family inhabits and cares for is located at the base of Peters Mountain, just a couple miles from the site of a tree sit blockade located near the Appalachian Trail that prevented tree clearing for 95 days this spring.
On July 27, MVP experienced yet another setback when a 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals cancelled the permit that had allowed the pipeline to be built in the Jefferson National Forest. Although this decision was a small but important victory in the fight against the pipeline, it does not affect privately held land including the Crabtree’s, which was condemned by eminent domain after the family refused to sell.
This action takes place on the last day of the #RiseTogether Weeks of Action against pipelines and other dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure projects. All across the continent, water protectors have been fighting back against these projects which endanger communities, contaminate air and water, contribute to global climate change, and continue the colonization of native lands. For more info, visit https://www.nobayoubridge.global/risetogether
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