Go Tell Your Neighbors! Go Tell Your Friends!
Celebrating July 5, 2020
I don’t know about you, but I will never think about fireworks and Independence Day in the same way.
On July 5th last year, in the middle of a deadly pandemic, came the amazing news that Dominion and Duke Energy were, after six long years, pulling the plug on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), an unnecessary and highly destructive natural gas project that threatened communities along its 600-mile route from West Virginia, across Virginia, and deep into North Carolina.
Suddenly it was if the fireworks from the night before were reignited and have continued ever since as we celebrate David beating Goliath and, literally, right over might.
As you know, our improbable victory came because people from all walks of life joined together to protect the places they cherished. As Robin and Linda Williams said in their “We Don’t Want Your Pipeline” song that became our anthem: “Nothing is done as long as we’ll stand together for our rights and our property!”
A year after July 5th, 2020, we are still celebrating, but we are also reflecting and learning from our victory. It is a lesson that all Americans might draw from. We found common ground where we could work together and lean on each other for support as we battled a greedy giant. The people joined hands with one another: those from the karst lands of the mountains, the historic Black communities, the farmers growing food for the world, the Native Peoples, the teachers, the children, and the elderly.
From the start we had the benefit of some crack legal teams, including the Southern Environmental Law Center, which took us all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. For those along the path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, this was a community issue and we were in this together.
We won the ACP fight because of you and the thousands of others who refused to give up. For six years the people wrote letters, marched, put up signs, donated money, planted corn, and became watchdogs on the ground and in the air.
In the end an incredible grassroots effort brought down a flawed project deemed one of the costliest in the nation. Company officials said in a statement that court rulings heightened the litigation risk, extended the project’s timeline and ballooned the cost of the project, which had risen from $5 billion in 2014 to $8 billion in 2020. There’s no doubt Dominion’s problems were largely self-inflicted, but without the incredible grassroots effort that stretched like a lifeline from the fracking wells of West Virginia almost to South Carolina, the ACP would have been built.
Although a major chapter in the ACP fight is complete, the story is not over. Dominion must make the people in the path of the pipeline whole again. Forests must be rejuvenated, easements must be returned, historic resources must be restored. We must also look to our neighbors just south of us and help them win their struggle against the awful Mountain Valley Pipeline.
On this July 5th, however, take time to celebrate the victory by the thousands of little people who knew what was right and never stopped believing. There is Power in Place!