The news came late in 2014. It was not until September when it officially broke that many counties in the New River Valley were in the projected path of a new energy project called the Mountain Valley Pipeline proposed by Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC, a joint venture between EQT Midstream Partners, LP; NextEra US Gas Assets, LLC; WGL Midstream; and Vega Midstream MVP LLC.
This fracked natural gas pipeline, it would come to be known, planned to be 42″ in diameter, would be buried in an underground trench. Drawn remotely from computer desktop to run for over 300 miles through the hills, ridges, valleys, and creeks of Appalachia, the pipeline at this time was slotted to traverse close to 15 counties, including Giles, Craig, Montgomery, Roanoke, Franklin, and, finally, in Pittsylvania County, where it would connect with an existing Transco compressor station. Homeowners began receiving letters from the company, alerting them to the path’s presence on their properties.
The valley saw the plans shift that season when the line’s route was moved out of Floyd County in the fall of 2014. The plans have been shifting ever since, with various alternate routes drafted, rallies coordinated, open-houses and scoping meetings held along the way. Questions of property and landowner rights, company experience, safety, and damage to local business and the environment have been fueling the fight of communities against the corporation. Supporters of the project point to the promises made by the company, referencing job creation, less expensive fuel, and energy independence as reasons for the pipeline’s necessity to the region. Most currently, the private company has sent certified letters threatening the legal action of eminent domain to residents who continue to refuse survey access, while surveying contractors have recently been arrested for trespassing on private and federally protected lands. Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC is scheduled to file a formal application for project approval with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in the fall of 2015.
This summer, storypike’s first series will focus on those in the direct path of the line, taking a documentary look at these communities and individuals by focusing not only on the details of the pipeline project but what defines the sense of community in the rural New River Valley today.
What tangible details of everyday life have been and will continue to be affected by the pipeline, and in what ways?
While acknowledging the complicated issues presented in harvesting sources of energy in rural Appalachian communities, our hope is to document subtle details of this story as it develops through the sharing of local and personal histories.