Mountain Valley Pipeline will have Devastating Impacts on the A.T.

by Jordan Bowman

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is strongly opposed to the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline project, which would dramatically scar the scenic landscape of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.), could contaminate clean drinking water, and cause local cities and towns that rely on outdoor recreation-based tourism to lose significant revenues.

Mountain Valley Pipeline Landscape Simulation

This rendering highlights the negative impact that the Mountain Valley Pipeline will have on the Virginia and West Virginia landscape,
disrupting iconic views along the A.T. for up to 100 miles.

The ATC has a history of working with various energy providers and other industries to ensure that the energy needs of the public are met while simultaneously preserving the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains and the unique hiking experience that the A.T. provides.

However, after the release of the questionable Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed project and witnessing the inadequacies of the environmental compliance process initiated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), we feel the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline threatens the A.T. on an unprecedented scale.

Background:

The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), spearheaded by EQT Corporation, is designed to deliver natural gas to Virginia and West Virginia, though it has been mired in controversy since its initial proposal. The pipeline would carry fracked natural gas for over 300 miles through the Virginia and West Virginia countryside, crossing over dozens of water sources, protected areas and, at one point, over the A.T. itself. The proposed project fails to meet numerous criteria the ATC laid out in a 2015 policy offering guidance on proposed natural gas pipeline projects.

Appalachian Gas Pipeline Construction

The ATC, the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club and many other local stakeholders provided input on how the project could be adjusted to avoid unnecessary environmental hazards and unsightly alterations to Appalachian vistas — including following existing infrastructure corridors already cut into the landscape — but, unfortunately, almost all of this advice went unheeded.

Here are some of the major concerns we have about the Mountain Valley Pipeline:

  • Permanent damage to iconic views along the Appalachian Trail
    The pipeline approval process failed to adequately study the visual impact MVP would have on the A.T. and the surrounding areas. Multiple iconic viewpoints in Virginia are predicted to be severely impacted, including Angels Rest, Kelly Knob, Rice Fields and Dragons Tooth — some of the most visited and photographed locations on the entire A.T. The proposed route for the project would require the creation of a "utility corridor" around the pipeline roughly the size of a 12-lane highway, which would effectively eliminate thousands of acres of pristine forest. The ATC estimates that the pipeline corridor could be viewed from up to 60 miles away at many viewpoints along the A.T.

  • Health, safety and water quality concerns for nearby communities and the surrounding environment.
    Numerous safety concerns loom over MVP as well. Situated on land that is geologically unstable — crossing over a designated seismic zone — the risk of severe erosion, landslides and pipeline failure are extremely high. Such instability also poses a high likelihood of natural gas leaks, which could poison the surrounding environment and contaminate the drinking water used by nearby communities.

  • Harmful changes to the Jefferson National Forest Management Plan
    In order to accommodate the visual and environmental damage that would be caused by MVP, the U.S. Forest Service agreed to lower the Jefferson National Forest Management Plan standards for water quality, visual impacts, the removal of old-growth forest and the number of simultaneous projects passing through the borders of federally protected land. This unprecedented change is ill-considered, not only because it would permit MVP to destroy thousands of acres of pristine forest, but it would open the gates for future infrastructure projects to cause similar destruction. All of these changes were made without sufficient public review or input from other partners — a rash and dangerous change from the standards previously established through decades of cooperation.

  • A potentially significant impact on the economy for nearby communities.
    The negative impact this pipeline would have on nearby Virginia towns — including Pearisburg, Narrows and Newport — would reach beyond safety concerns. These communities are staunch supporters of the A.T. and benefit from tourism dollars provided by hikers and other visitors. This economic study highlights some of the potential impacts the pipeline would have on the income and property values in the surrounding areas. Both Pearisburg and Narrows have passed resolutions opposing the pipeline, as the wellbeing of their communities is at risk.

Dragons Tooth near Catawba, Virginia

 

 

The ATC does not take this position lightly — for months, we have attempted to find ways to minimize environmental and visual impacts through collaboration with MVP officials and the project's various partners, including the U.S. Forest Service. However, due to the massive impact the proposed project would have on the Appalachian Trail, the surrounding environment, and multiple communities and small businesses, the ATC strongly opposes the construction of the MVP, and we urge our members, the A.T. hiking community, outdoor lovers, and the citizens of Virginia and West Virginia to stand with us.


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166 comments

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  1. Eñchero | Nov 24, 2017
    Strongly oppose this. when this trail was built its intended purpose was to preserve land and easements . This goes against everything the original intent of constructing this trail stands for. 
  2. John Stacy | Oct 29, 2017
    Need to protect our natural resources. This project should either be cancelled or revised to preserve our forests and water sources, as well as the visual beauty of Appalachia. I hope to thru hike the AT one day and would hate to see this blight on the land. 
  3. Ryan Gale | Oct 20, 2017
    This is absolutely unacceptable.  There are many other proven energy sources to power our leech-like society.  Leave the AT and the beauty of the backwoods alone.  This is unnecessary.  Does the gree​d of big oil have no bounds.
  4. Werner | Oct 06, 2017
    Even thou this is about progress - somewhere the continuous impact  and demand on nature has to stop...
  5. Rick S. Clone | Oct 03, 2017
    Nothing like over-exaggerating impacts of a pipeline.  There are already thousands of pipelines running all throughout the area with zero impact.  Yes, there will be initial scarring when the pipeline is first installed, but within two years there will be no signs of it. 
    Off of I-95 in Virginia, they changed an entry/exit ramp area.  One area that used to be several lanes of concrete are now a lush, green area.  You would never know it used to be a road. 
    Pipelines are way safer and less hazardous to the environment than trucking or railroading it.
  6. Barry "Loop Trail" Chafin | Sep 09, 2017
    This pipeline is a bad idea. Any benefits are temporary. Destruction of a beautiful area is permanent.
  7. Francis davis | Aug 16, 2017
    To all you people who think that wind and solar are the answer, take a drive from Denver to southern Illinois and tell me about the pristine view ruined by all the wind turbines during the day and the blinking lights at night. Then come over to my home and instead of watching the ebb and flow of soybeans, corn and winter wheat that have been going on  for 150 years stare at the glittering solar panels that will kill that tranquilitythat surrounds my home built in 1874. 
  8. Tristan Chaulk | Jul 31, 2017
    We mustn't allow decisions like this to be made without carefully considering the repercussions from both our Earth and the communities which surround the A.T. This pipeline could render the A.T. an unfit area for tourists and the Americans who visit the trail year after year. Not only that, but the environmental repercussions are a serious issue. The pipeline is being constructed in an at-risk area where much erosion and damage could occur, therefore the risk of having a natural gas leak resulting in contamination is inevitable. Please halt the construction of this pipeline. Conserve our Earth and let it be. We must stop being greedy, corporate influenced human beings. There are definitely alternatives that we, as large Westernized societies, can explore. We have the technology to utilize hydro and wind power, which are natural forces that can work to create energy for the masses. If it is energy and tech we are worried about, then rest assured we have the resources to convert to these fields of energy production. These practices would be much more beneficial for our environment and the conservation of natural landmarks such as the A.T. 

    Don't make a quick decision about this. Short-term gain results in a long-term loss, and again, we must stop being so greedy. We have more than enough. Don't destroy this landmark for petty human amusement.
  9. Tom Laxton | Jul 30, 2017
    Protect the trail at all cost.  Out children inherit what we leave behind.  There are enough man made scars being left behind.  You can not replace the pristine landscape once it is gone!
  10. Reina Valenzuela | Jul 19, 2017
    I vehemently oppose the pillage of our national treasure let's keep our parks intact. 
  11. Carol Czina | Jul 18, 2017
    I am very concerned that this beautiful landscape will be so irreversibly scarred before I even get to see it. I have had a long range plan to hike the Appalachain trail in 2022. I have waited my whole career to do this. I do not want to be looking at this pipeline for 100 miles of my epic journey. I do not want the pristine mountain streams destroyed by the opening up of this forest to erosion. This is my national park, the Appalachian Trail. I do not want the viewshed destroyed before I get there. I want this land preserved for all time. I say NO! to this pipeline in this location. 
  12. Trail Blazer | Jun 24, 2017
    This pipeline would be a disgrace to the character, nature and longevity of America and our planet...And every other species that relies on the ecosystem.  The greed for temporary profits from the Mountain Valley Pipeline is where terrorism on our people begins.  The AT is our pride, our heritage and our life source.  Anyone promoting, investing in, engineering and profiting from this pipeline is anti-American...anti-Human.  
  13. Paula R. | May 06, 2017
    Wow. So much wrong with this pipeline. The simulated images alone make it look as though a six-year-old took an electric razor and gave the landscape a buzz-cut, and that's just the aesthetic aspect. It's ridiculous that gas (and oil and coal) companies, politicians, and short-sighted citizens dismiss the dangers of these pipelines, especially in places that are obvious indications of geologic instability. ​Sure, the jobs are great . . . until you find yourself living on land so poisoned it's making you sick, and the money you make can't cover the cost of cleaning the air and water and soil you helped destroy. But I guess it's more important to damn the consequences and just get as much money as possible as fast as possible; maybe you can move away before you have to deal with the mess you helped create, and leave it to be cleaned up by future generations suffering ​because of your greed.
  14. Lyn Chiera | Apr 04, 2017
    For the last few years have had my heart set on hiking the A.T. from start to finish. I am sure there are many others like me who wish to visit this incredibly beautiful area. Please do not destroy this one of a kind gift from mother nature!!!! IF this pipeline has to be built, then it NEEDS to be done in such a manner as not to destroy the beauty the A.T. provides, or the people in the communities that will surely be negatively impacted by it. I sincerely hope that the Mountain Valley Pipeline DOES NOT HAPPEN. I will do everything in my power to spread the word and support the ATC's efforts to protect this precious area of our great nation as well as the communities that will be effected.
     
  15. Eileen McGuire | Mar 15, 2017
    This is so wrong. This breaks my heart. Beautiful country. It should be conserved for our future generations. Please protect the last of our wilderness. Our future depends on it. Time to go green. 
  16. Michelle Moyer | Mar 15, 2017
    I would like to ask that the rights and protections of the scenic protections for the section of the country this pipeline would effect be upheld and protected themselves. Please keep the Appalachians the way they are, and please don't take away the scenic beauty of the East.
     
  17. Greg Wilson | Mar 15, 2017
    The installation of this pipeline is not necessary at all , espicially if it has to be built through the appalachian mountains,Its just not necessary as I believe there are alternates routes for the pipeline. Keep pipelines out of our National Forest and Wilderness areas. Econominics should not be a primary reason for destroying what takes years to replace and never will be the same.

    Greg Wilson
  18. Nichole Smith | Mar 15, 2017
    The Mountains are my second home. I love nature, I go to the mountains every year. The Coal Industry has done plenty of damage. The Pipeline would be worse. I do not want the mountains to disappear.
  19. Nichole Smith | Mar 15, 2017
    The Mountains are my second home. I love nature, I go to the mountains every year. The Coal Industry has done plenty of damage. The Pipeline would be worse. I do not want the mountains to disappear.
  20. Robert Conger | Mar 02, 2017
    Can't you post a map of the pipeline's course and the AT?  How close is it?  I like to know what the reality of this situation is.  Thanks.
  21. Lisa | Mar 02, 2017
    I am against this pipeline and find it a shame that the FERC continues to ignore the environmental impacts that this project would cause. I consider hiking the Appalachian Trail a sanctuary for peace and tranquility and a form of renewing the soul. It should always be protected at any cost.
  22. Holly Love | Feb 18, 2017
    To the proponents and planners of the Mountain Valley and all pipelines, stop. For this is something you will look back on with regret.
  23. Josh Bringle | Jan 11, 2017
    This is a risk that is too great to take. Please do not build this pipeline.
  24. Breanna | Jan 09, 2017
    Can someone please update me with where the proposal stands? 
  25. Glenda Russell | Dec 27, 2016
    We need to stop raping the land for greed. Fossil fuels destroy the planets eco system for all beings. The earth is not ours we are merely passing through and I prefer my visit to leave as small of a footprint as possible. Please stop this pipeline!
  26. Lowell Smith | Dec 26, 2016
    The Mountain Valley Pipeline project is an attempt by the developer to acquire rights to public and private lands that would enrich itself enormously while impovershing most everyone with degraded land, disturbed ecosystems, and accelerated global climate disruption.  The natural gas that this pipeline would transport is mostly for export, not needed in the affected states.  It would make worse our current rapidly changing climate, and ensure that this additional climate disruption  would extend for the many decades the pipeline would be used, and over the additional centuries that the carbon released would remain in the atmosphere and oceans.  

    We must have the courage to halt new fossil fuel projects such as this, and put our every effort into building a sustainable energy economy.  With what we know now about the science of human's impact on our climate at all scales, it would be immoral to continue on a path of releasing more and more carbon to the atmosphere.  If we were to act responsibly to curtain carbon emissions, this project would rapidly become a white elephant.  Let's get on with  making the transition to a carbon free energy economy, and do it with the urgency it deserves.
  27. Greg | Dec 22, 2016
    “Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

    “Destroying a forest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal.” ― Edward O. Wilson, Harvard biologist
  28. Victoria Stone | Dec 22, 2016
    My opposition to the construction of the mountain Valley Pipeline includes not only compromise to the Appalachian Trail, but to communities, water quality, degradation of habitat from the loss of large uninterrupted tracts of forest, the economies of areas along the proposed paths, and compromise of the Jefferson National Forest. Much of what will be destroyed can never be mitigated and would have serious economic effects on impacted areas purely for private companies' profit. 
  29. Joe Perebzak | Dec 22, 2016
    The pipelines brings compressor stations, there loud and emissions are dangerous. We know because they built one next to our village. The pipeline would bring pipeline workers, they throw their trash on our lands and trucks and cars run day and night. That will destroy the forest and roads. They will come and go and the damage will be left for the local people. The energy companies are not to be trusted. It will change your small villages for years. Don't do it.
  30. Bridgett Utt | Dec 21, 2016
    No pipeline!!! Destroying our preserved lands, and homes for wildlife. 
  31. Barbara Mink | Dec 19, 2016
     the AT  is a blessing to many who need a place of peace and beauty.  a pipeline would be an eyesore and the chance of leakage is high given the terrain.  We don't need to mess with Mother nature's creations.
  32. Ray Maroney | Dec 19, 2016
    I have personal experience with how pipeline companies totally disregard the environment and landowners. 
    The PennEast 42 inch pipeline will be passing through my property then a few miles beyond it will also cross the AT near Little Gap adding yet another scar to the trail here in PA  : ( 


  33. Rebecca Foster | Dec 19, 2016
    The short-term economic boost will not be sufficient to offset the long-term damage to the businesses who depend on the draw of the Trail. Many small businesses would be permanently hurt by this. Please support long-term sustainable economic growth for our small businesses. 
  34. Steve Crawford | Dec 19, 2016
    The pipeline companies have run rough-shod over the rights of landowners and the general public for years. They have done so under the ruse of "eminent domain" laws and with the full support of FERC and other government agencies who are more interested in satisfying their political bosses than protecting the public's interests. Glad to support an organization that calls their hand on the farcical environmental "studies" that they use to justify these land grabs.
  35. Roseann Coon | Dec 19, 2016
    http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/massive-2013-oil-spill-north-dakota-cleaned-44266811



    This is why it is unfathomable  to let oil companies pollute OUR Commonwealth !!
    Wildlife like Eagles and Falcons have made a comeback.
    Locals and tourists enjoy nature UNSPOILED.
    Please think of the future generation and keep nature wild and safe.
    Thank you
  36. Rob | Dec 19, 2016
    Doesn't the 1968 National Trails System Act cover such situations as this?  Doesn't the state(s) of West Virginia and Virginia have a Ridge Law as North Carolina passed in 1983?
  37. Sharon House | Dec 19, 2016
    These beautiful lands need to remain as pristine as possible, once degraded they are never the same. Enough pipelines exist already; better energy options need to be utilized. The true dangers of fracking gas are slowly being exposed/revealed. The few jobs that may result from its construction and maintenance are not worth the resulting degradations to this valuable eco system. 
  38. Steve Massell | Dec 19, 2016
        Please get some sense into your heads and STOP the Mountain Valley Pipeline! Twenty years from now, when alternate fuel supplies are abundant, you'll look back at this decision to proceed as "fuelish" - or radically intelligent if you vetoed this proposed destruction of our wilderness.
  39. Jessica wrst | Dec 19, 2016
    Please act against this pipeline and protect our ecosystems, people and environment! Please listen to the people and morally act against corporate greed! 
  40. Lynne Ridgeway | Dec 19, 2016
    This country and its citizens are threatened every day be toxic discharges, the most recent being near the planned Dakota pipe line.  I cannot fathom how this type of oil spill would affect the mountains and ecosystem of the Appalachian mountains.  This would happen after the ecosystem was damaged by putting in this pipeline.  This is unacceptable to our historic land. 

    Additionally the Governor's and assembly's comments that it would invite further development paints a frightening future of carbon based energy development.  There is also a false picture of job creation.  The pipeline creates temporary jobs at best and long term it generate few.  I have a family member who is a pipeliner.  I often read his comments about being laid off.  I would rather see him permanently employed replacing aged, failing pipeline especially near water systems such as the Great Lakes.

    I urge you not to approve this pipeline. Besides the damage to a beautiful and vanishing wilderness and protected lands I fear this is just another project to extract American resources to be sold overseas. 
  41. Wendy Brown | Dec 19, 2016
    Our country can transition into renewable sustainable energy. We just need leaders like JFK to say we will put a man on the moon by 2020, I mean stop using dirty energy. Money can be made by good clean energy! Set your minds to it! The only reason to have a government is to protect it's citizens! And this case, protect our water and ecology and food production. Do your jobs and S​AVE us please! The AT is sacred to us! Wendy Brown, Page County
  42. Robert Eslick | Dec 19, 2016
    So sad that this could and probably will happen. Money talks and nature walks. One thing, for sure; the incoming administration, will not do much to stop this practice. Sad but true. 
  43. Patti Richards | Dec 18, 2016
    This pipeline would permanently affect the natural beauty of the Appalachian Trail and vicinity. Virginia has a lot of tourism dollars associated with this natural area, and would affect the natural experience. In addition, the environmental impacts to water and residents is immense. We should be focusing on renewable energy infrastructure like solar and wind, and keep the fossil fuels in the ground where they belong. I hike and camp near the AT.
  44. River Taig | Dec 18, 2016
    National Scenic Trails such as the Appalachian Trail are like National Parks - they are a vital part of our national heritage and deserve special protection and special consideration. Please consider the generations of young people who find their first experiences with nature on these trails. 
  45. B. Marchant | Dec 18, 2016
    Some of this proposal must be illegal and all of it is an unnecessary outrage. Little of the East is pristine and this should be preserved as part of our natural and national heritage.
  46. Lon Glover | Dec 18, 2016
    After my youngest son hiked the trail a few years ago, and my own hikes in my adulthood......and considering the beauty, and climate protections afforded, I want job opportunity in this country that is deeply committed to our environment. I do not think this pipeline meets that standard. I am opposed.
  47. Terence J Lardner | Dec 18, 2016
    Please don't ruin the Appalachian mountains.
  48. George Blackburn | Dec 17, 2016
    Enough with these endless pipelines through sensitive regions that have higher and irreplaceable values.
  49. Sharon Harmon | Dec 16, 2016
    Add me to the list as objecting to this pipeline.
  50. Dave & Louise Ransom | Dec 16, 2016
    We are in a period of economic greed and haste and we object. The pipeline is not needed. The various oil and gas pipelines have proven that they leak and poison the countryside, yes, i said "poison." We need another way. Back to the drawing board not to the profit making. 

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