By Caroline Welfare
The settlement started only 30 minutes from where Roanoke is now, back when that land was deemed inhospitable due to the lack of good ground for building houses, and it has been a beautiful farmland since the first families who settled there. Those families might not be there for much longer, and the beautiful valley would go with them.
The government itself is ordering and forcibly obtaining farm and forested land for the 42-inch fracked gas pipeline that not only disrupts the community, but also damages the pristine waterways connected to Virginia’s second tallest waterfall, Bent Mountain Falls and Camp Creek, both of which are home to 10% of freshwater organisms in both Virginia and the Blue Ridge.
The Nature Conservancy owns the family-friendly and popular hiking trails known collectively as Bottom Creek Gorge, but not the land that has been claimed for the pipeline.
And runoff from the nearby pipeline is not their only concern.
Families old to the area are afraid of having their land claimed without them having committed a slight against the people, despite Virginia having strict laws about eminent domain. This is not a common problem, but the U.S. government has been known to claim land already owned for resources. Several signs of protest are hung on fences, the closest one to the paused construction says boldly; “THIS IS THEFT!”
According to reporting in Cardinal News judges have ignored several emergency pleas, and after a four-month-long pause in construction, the Supreme Court has once again given the project a green light.
According to the Appalachian Voice runoff is not the only environmental concern. When the pipe inevitably breaks, the fracked gas will spread and ruin the surrounding waterways, endangering species that were threatened already.
From above, or from distant overlooks, the pipeline looks like a scar on the lush mountainside.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline threatens both the environment and farming families who have been there so long that they may not have another place to go. Not only are homes that have been legally owned for decades being claimed by the order for the pipeline, but when it unavoidably breaks, we will have a wholly different, water-poisoning problem on our hands.
“U.S. Supreme Court gives Mountain Valley Pipeline the OK to resume construction as 4th Circuit hears arguments,” according to Cardinal News. A photo shows the construction - but conveniently hides the “THIS IS THEFT!” sign on a through road.