At 6 a.m. this morning, two pipeline fighters locked themselves to separate pieces of construction equipment at a Mountain Valley Pipeline site in Franklin County, according to the Appalachians Against Pipelines group.
In Franklin County, the pipeline route is expected to continue below Smith Mountain Lake through the Glade Hill, Union Hall and Penhook areas.
Banners at the protest site read "EARTH IS ON FIRE, TURN OFF THE GAS” and “¡SOLIDARIDAD CON PUERTO RICO!” Work at the site was prevented for 6.5 hours before the protesters were extracted from their blockade by law enforcement around 12:30 p.m., the group states, and as of 5 p.m. the protesters had not been arraigned, no charges had been released, no bail had been set.
"The Mountain Valley Pipeline contributes to climate change, increases demand for natural gas (and as a result, fracking), and is entrenched in corrupt political processes," the Appalachians Against Pipelines group claims. "It endangers water, ecosystems, and communities along its route."
According to the Mountain Valley Pipeline website: "The Mountain Valley Pipeline project team respects the concerns and opinions of community members; we value each landowner’s property; and we certainly value the safety of our employees, contractors, and every single person that lives in these communities. We want to work with everyone in our Virginia and West Virginia communities to make sure we’re building this pipeline safely and responsibly, and that we’re doing so in a way that has minimal impacts on their land and their daily lives."
The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a 42-inch diameter, approximately 303-mile, gas pipeline that runs from northern West Virginia to southern Virginia, with a proposed 70-mile extension into North Carolina.
"According to the National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Department of Transportation, natural gas pipelines have the best safety record of any energy delivery system in the United States," the company also states. "Mountain Valley Pipeline takes tremendous precautions to ensure the long-term safety of our pipelines — and once the pipeline is operational, we will utilize sophisticated technology to monitor the pipeline, in real time, 24-hours-a-day and 7-days-a-week. Perhaps most importantly, Mountain Valley believes safety is our number one priority — we have a steadfast commitment to environmental protection and will conduct our business operations in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner at all times."