Appalachia and Native Pipeline Enemies Protest Climate Deal

Roishetta Ozane and her six children piled into a three-bedroom trailer, paid for by FEMA, after their southwest Louisiana home was destroyed by two hurricanes, just six weeks apart.

The single mother and her children lived in this cramped space for almost two years before Ozane, after working three jobs, could afford to buy a new house last June. Now it’s hurricane season again.

Ozane, 37, traveled this week from her home in Sulfur, Louisiana, to the nation’s capital to gather at 5 p.m. Thursday with other people displaced by climate disasters and those campaigning against pipelines in their communities. communities. She said she shares her story in meetings on the Hill with her local representatives’ offices in the hope that those in power will listen to her concerns and reject any bills that would invest more in polluting infrastructure.

“For so long…these industries have been placed in the BIPOC communities that are too often targeted by these projects. It’s time for them to stop. No more sacrifices can be made to us for oil and gas,” Ozane said, referring to black people, Indigenous people and people of color. Pointing out that her home near Lake Charles, Louisiana, is surrounded by oil and gas refineries, chemical manufacturers and other industries, she had this message for lawmakers: “Breathe the air we breathe. Drink the water we drink. And feel everything we feel in a community where everywhere we look we see the industry.

Haters of Appalachian and Indigenous pipelines say climate deal ‘left us burning’

Although the passing of the Cut Inflation Act – a package on climate, energy and health care – last month was the climate movement’s greatest legislative success, Ozane and others feel that their communities have been sacrificed as bargaining chips. To enlist the support of Sen. Joe Manchin III (DW.Va.), Democratic leaders struck a side deal with Manchin that would overhaul the approval process for new energy initiatives and speed up the 300-mile-long Mountain Valley pipeline project — a natural gas pipeline through West Virginia and Virginia that those who rallied in DC Thursday opposed for years.

Ozane, an organizer with Healthy Gulf, an environmental justice organization, is one of hundreds expected to demonstrate Thursday at the Robert A. Taft Memorial Carillon, joining people from Appalachia and as far away as Alaska to demand that Lawmakers are rejecting the side deal, said Grace Tuttle, a lead rally organizer who has campaigned against the Mountain Valley Pipeline for three years. Tuttle said the protest will be a show of solidarity between communities hit “first and worst” by fossil fuel developments.

Surrounded by fossil fuels, they fear the climate bill will leave them behind

The landmark Cut Inflation Act will significantly advance the fight against climate change, spending an estimated $370 billion to bring the country closer to achieving the emissions cuts scientists say are needed to avoid the devastating consequences of global warming.

Rally organizers say the side deal, if passed, “would diminish fundamental environmental protections, threaten tribal authority, endanger public health, accelerate fossil fuel projects, reduce public participation and would push approval for Manchin’s pet project, the Mountain Valley Pipeline.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment, but has previously said environmental justice leaders were essential to the development of the bill, calling it “the single most important investment in climate, clean energy and environmental justice in US history and defeating the vested interests that for decades have blocked progress. A representative of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did not respond to a request for comment.

These rallies are particularly concerned about the easing of permit restrictions, warning that it could weaken an important environmental protection law that indigenous peoples have frequently used to challenge projects they believe would harm their communities. .

Donald Jones’ family has owned interconnected farmland in the hills and valleys of the Blue Ridge Mountains since the late 1700s. Although portions of the property have been sold over the generations, Jones and his siblings still own 70 acres of farmland in Giles County, Virginia, inherited from their father, and fought for years to keep the Mountain Valley Pipeline off their land, fearing it would harm the mountain spring, orchard of peach trees and other ancestral lands.

Haters of Appalachian and Indigenous pipelines say climate deal ‘left us burning’

His father was one of approximately 300 landowners in southwest Virginia who, after refusing to sell easements for the project, were sued by the pipeline company. Construction on the pipeline, which would carry Appalachian shale gas and cuts through Jones’ property, began in 2018. But Jones, like many others, kept pushing back.

Over the years, he laid out his complaints about the pipeline and its construction in filings with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He cited downed trees placed in mounds on the side of the mountain, deep holes of muddy water where his golden retriever got stuck, the removal of bat houses and a pile of rocks piled up at the hand that had been on the property for generations.

“Within the federal court system, their only concern is the current value of the land,” Jones wrote in one of the filings. “There is no ‘value’ for old ecosystems. There is no “value” for clean mountain spring water. There is no “value” for generational lands. There is no “value” for all the time we spent protecting Dad’s property rights. There is no “value” on the unforeseen damage created by the “survival of the pipeline”. »

This pipeline project, proposed in 2014 and now nearing completion, is a key priority for Manchin. He and his supporters argued that this project, designed to transport 2 billion cubic feet of gas per day, would increase domestic exports of liquefied natural gas, which the United States sends to help Europe during the war in Ukraine.

Asked about that rally and the side deal for permission on Thursday, Manchin told reporters: “I’m done. I’ve said it all… Everyone works so hard.

“Federal and state officials have carefully evaluated MVP’s plans and have concluded that the project can be constructed in a safe and responsible manner,” said Natalie Cox, spokesperson for Mountain Valley Pipeline. “Mountain Valley also previously announced its intention to voluntarily offset its operational emissions and has committed funds to preserve more than twice as many acres of land that will be used for the long-term operation of the project.”

Jones, 61, of Salem, Va., comes to Thursday’s rally as one of the rural landowners opposed to the pipeline. He is appalled at the political maneuvering done to pass the Cut Inflation Act and worries about the kind of planet that will remain as his 4-year-old grandson grows up.

“People of Appalachia, we don’t have a lot of money, but we fought hard enough. It’s hard to face so much money,” Jones said. “I’m not giving up now.”

Maxine Joselow contributed to this report.


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