Since 2018, scores of brave anti-capitalist land defenders have been disrupting construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), a natural gas pipeline system that would span approximately 303 miles from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia. The proposed pipeline is a joint venture between EQM Midstream Partners, LP; NextEra US Gas Assets, LLC; Con Edison Transmission, Inc.; WGL Midstream; and RGC Midstream, LLC. The pipeline would have to capacity to transport two billion cubic feet of fracked gas per day, and, in spite of various challenges posed to construction, plans are already in place to expand the thus-far non-existent pipeline to North Carolina to facilitate international exportation. MVP endangers water, ecosystems, and communities along its route; contributes to climate change; increases demand for natural gas (and, therefore, fracking); and is entrenched in corrupt political processes.
One critical element of resistance to this project has been the tree sitters of Appalachia, who have been sitting in trees along the pipeline route for the better part of a year in an effort to prevent construction. In February 2019, the Yellow Finch Tree Sits celebrated over 150 days of tree-sitting. One tree-sitter noted:
Mountain Valley Pipeline wants to cut through one of the last untouched forests in the eastern U.S., blasting through mountains, drilling under rivers, cutting across wetlands, and creating a vast, dark chasm through one of the world’s most beautiful places. But, through all of the combined efforts of direct actions and opposition to MVP, there is currently one less functioning pipeline in the world, one less profitable venture for fossil fuel companies.
Defenders with Appalachians against Pipelines and members of indigenous groups have also disrupted construction in various ways, including by tree-sitting, scaling and locking themselves to construction equipment, dropping banners to raise awareness of the issue (such as one that read “Stop MVP! No pipeline on stolen land!”), and creating physical barriers to construction with their own bodies. At one action, anti-pipeline land defenders arrived dressed as zombies. One announced: “We are the living dead. Our birthright of capitalism, global warming, and never-ending extraction is a death sentence. This fact must be realized. These forces must be stopped.”
“Our birthright of capitalism, global warming, and never-ending extraction is a death sentence. This fact must be realized. These forces must be stopped.”
Anti-pipeline folks are facing a tremendous amount of repression, with multiple arrests made to date, charges including the felony “threat of terrorism” levied, and bail set as high as $8,000 in some cases.
Revolutionary anarchists stand in solidarity with those who refuse to allow corporate greed to result in further ecological devastation. At a time when report after report demonstrates that humanity’s days are numbered, that our current way of life is killing the planet on which we all live, and that anything short of a complete overhaul of the economic system by which disastrous projects such as MVP are motivated will result in the end of all life as we know it within a single generation, we cannot afford to sit idly as projects like this proceed. Protecting and defending our planet is a critical step in creating the world revolutionaries want to see realized— one in which capitalism and statehood are things of the past, and humans and nonhumans alike can not merely survive, but thrive.
Likewise, revolutionary anarchists stand in solidarity with indigenous people everywhere who have seen their lands stolen, exploited, and destroyed by imperialism. We understand that colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism conspire to tear indigenous communities apart while ravaging the land on which they have lived, and for which they have cared, for generations.
The bold actions of these land defenders serve as inspiring examples for revolutionaries worldwide. Such actions light the fire that must be kept burning until all empires are in ashes. Only then can we begin the important work of building a world without oppression.