Pipeline opponents call for halt to construction, cite water issues

Del. Sam Rasoul, landowners gathered Monday in Roanoke


ROANOKE, Va. – Opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline continued to raise concerns over water Monday as construction continues.

Landowners, lawmakers and other people concerned about muddy streams and water quality gathered at Wasena Park in Roanoke to voice their complaints.

A crowd of about 30 people chanted and held signs as leaders urged state agencies to stop pipeline construction. Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, has been vocal about his environmental concerns.

"That's an enormous impact to our drinking water,” he said. “We need to make sure we're not trading our drinking water for the profit of some out-of-town companies."

Many of the opponents call themselves “the resistance.” They talked about seeing mud run off into streams in Roanoke and Franklin counties. They’ve said they’ve reported the problems to the Virginia Department of Environmental Equality and said the agency’s response should be better.

Last month, a mudslide caused construction to stop in one location. A group of landowners have since filed a lawsuit.

"It was shocking,” said Bob Peckman, of Roanoke, after seeing erosion in Franklin County. “I didn't expect what I saw. I saw mud pouring into the stream. I saw absolutely no erosion protection at all."

Pipeline opponents are awaiting a State Water Control Board meeting on Aug. 21 that could revoke a key permit for construction.

"It's unacceptable,” said Minor Terry, who staged monthlong tree-sit in Roanoke County in protest. “The pipeline will be two-thirds in the ground by then. Damage is already going to be done. This should have been done much sooner."

The pipeline opponents think the State Water Control Board may revoke the permit. They feel that energy companies are influencing the process unfairly and they’re also upset with Gov. Ralph Northam for not halting construction.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission denied a request Friday for it to reconsider an earlier decision that paved the way for Mountain Valley Pipeline construction.

An MVP spokeswoman did not return our Monday afternoon request for a comment.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline is projected to run from West Virginia into North Carolina, crossing through Giles, Montgomery, Roanoke, Franklin and Pittsylvania counties in Virginia.