HINTON, W.Va. — A group of concerned citizens gathered at the Summers County Courthouse Tuesday to bring attention to the ongoing environmental impact caused by the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which they said has devastated their property and upended their lives.
Members of the group describing themselves as “stakeholders” placed a symbolic wooden stake into the ground in front of the courthouse to express their frustration with what was characterized by the attendees as a lack of engagement by local and state representatives, regarding the ecological effects of the pipeline’s installation, which began in 2018.
Summers County resident Neal Laferriere, who organized Tuesday’s event, said his farm has been disrupted and his family has been traumatized by the ongoing pipeline work near and on his property.
“As issues continue to occur along the Mountain Valley Pipeline route, we as ‘stakeholders’ are objecting to inadequate construction practices and obvious environmental violations. We are objecting to the lack of oversight both the federal and state governments are giving to a project that they approved. We have been left as citizens to defend ourselves, our mountains, our waters,” he said. “We are here to remind not just the MVP that we are stakeholders, but also the politicians who lied to us about it being the most scrutinized project ever.”
“A lot of folks are not aware that the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has a single inspector for the entire southern region. That means he is not only responsible for the Mountain Valley Pipeline project, he’s also responsible for the MXP (Mountaineer Xpress Pipeline). He’s also responsible for the ACP (Atlantic Coast Pipeline.) There is no way — no physical way — for that inspector to be able to cover that much ground and properly ensure that this project is being done in a viable manner.”
Laferriere is a plaintiff in a current lawsuit against Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC, claiming the company’s activities have damaged his organic farming business.
In May, Mountain Valley and the WVDEP entered into a consent order, obligating the company to pay nearly $266,000 for repeated environmental violations, mostly regarding erosion and water contamination.
The pipeline project has been the subject of ongoing protests by environmental groups and by individual citizens, throughout the duration of its construction.
When completed, the 300-mile pipeline will operate between northwestern West Virginia and southern Virginia.