CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. - A Mountain Valley Pipeline worker is giving a different perspective on the project.
A man who doesn’t want to be identified said he’s frustrated about being laid off. He talked to 10 News Tuesday about how upset he is over the anger people feel toward workers.
He didn’t want us to show his face or use his voice because he’s afraid he’ll get fired if people know he talked to the media. He showed 10 News his pay stubs from Precision Pipeline to confirm he is who he says he is.
He said hearing the news of the layoffs was shocking and frustrating.
“Very hurtful. We have people that bought a house,” he said. “And it'll be a couple weeks before you even get your first unemployment check.”
He’s one of the hundreds of people out of work after MVP announced Sunday that it laid off about half its workers now that a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission stop-work order has halted construction.
He believes about 80 percent of the workers are from the area, and he said it’s unfair that workers have a bad reputation.
“You're looked down upon. You're thought of to be a criminal, somebody not up to American standards,” he said. “And all we are are workers trying to do our best to provide for our families. There's no sympathy.”
He’s from out of state but he’s staying in Christiansburg. He said he cares a lot about the environment and doesn’t believe the project is as harmful as many people think it is.
He said workers take immense care to do their work safely. As for the erosion concerns that have led many landowners to file complaints with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, he believes there were weather events that workers couldn't control.
“I believe more than enough proper precautions were taken. There's a protocol that you follow,” he said.
Some businesses in the area are feeling the absence of workers. The manager at Hilltop Deli, which sits off of Route 460 in Newport, said in the mornings, the line wraps all the way around the inside of the store, to the point where workers have a hard time checking people out quickly.
He said business was booming this summer.
“It's a difference. It's a huge difference. You can tell when they're here and when they're not here,” manager Don Epperley said.
The pipeline worker said he hopes to be back to earning a paycheck soon. He believes his point of view isn’t in the public discussion.
“We have no voice. The opposition, the onslaught, it's one-sided.”
A union has started an online petition to restart construction.
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. The natural gas pipeline would travel 303 miles and is estimated to cost $3.7 billion.
On Aug. 3, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a stop-work order for the entire project, citing environmental concerns. For work to continue, MVP and regulatory agencies must resubmit environmental protection plans.
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