Sometimes life happens and things take longer than expected; but the wait is usually worth it. That’s what I’ve found recently anyway. You see, last fall, Ingrid and I recorded a podcast with Matthew Pickett, someone who has found his way to activism as the Mountain Valley Pipeline has upended his home.
We originally got connected to Matthew after we wrote a blog post about the Inflation Reduction Act. While we made an effort to provide background on both the positive and negative aspects of the bill, we made a mistake in not highlighting the impacts the bill might have on the Mountain Valley Pipeline — a climate bomb making a sacrifice zone of large swaths of West Virginia and Virginia. At the time, it seemed that due to a side deal, Joe Manchin might succeed in pushing the Mountain Valley Pipeline through in a “permitting reform” bill in exchange for his vote for the climate bill. For a variety of reasons, this didn’t happen. It may be an opinion, but this piece outlining how Republicans likely wanted to prevent Manchin from getting a win and some Democrats wanted to stop the pipeline is an explanation for how the side deal fell through that makes a lot of sense to me.
It is also worth noting that “permitting reform,” is not necessarily a bad thing and is still being considered on the Hill. In the United States, due to complex permitting processes, it is hard to build anything. On the one hand, the permitting process allows citizens to have a say in stopping toxic fossil fuel projects. On the other hand, in order to address the climate crisis, we are going to need to build a lot of new green infrastructure pretty quickly! So, whether “permitting reform” is a positive or negative really depends on what’s in it. Safe to say, Manchin including a special fast track for the Mountain Valley Pipeline was a bad thing. We wanted to learn more about it.
So, we went straight to the source and learned about the Mountain Valley Pipeline from Matthew Pickett — a filmmaker and photographer who has been instrumental in fighting the pipeline (you can see some of his work below). A lifelong member of communities that the pipeline cuts in half, his passion and knowledge were clear. It was an incredible conversation that, due to life, took a long time to edit. By the time I finished this week, it was already clear that Manchin had lost his side deal.
It turns out, though, that the timing couldn’t have been better. The fight to stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline is ongoing. You can read more about the current state of the pipeline from the POWHR Coalition, a group of grassroots groups who have been fighting for years and will keep fighting until the end to save their home. They fight because the Mountain Valley Pipeline is unwanted, dangerous, and destabilizing for the people who live in its path. It is a climate issue and an environmental issue for sure, but for the people who live there, it is an issue of community survival.
So, I hope you’ll listen to our podcast with Matthew. He tells us about his community, what he loves about the place he grew up, how he came to activism, and how it feels to live in a sacrifice zone.
Once you’re done, you can submit public comment against the pipeline to the Army Corps of Engineers (ends February 25) and Forest Service (ends February 21). The links will take you to the great guides from the POWHR Coalition — complete with talking points and how tos.