Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League Honors ACP and MVP Opponents
BENT MOUNTAIN, Va. — The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL), its chapters and allies presented a Unity Banner to water protectors and pipeline fighters on Aug. 18 at the Bent Mountain Community Center. The Unity Banner was created to symbolize solidarity between those who successfully fought and stopped the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and those who are still fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).
Sharon Ponton, BREDL’s Stop the Pipeline Campaign Coordinator shepherded the project and created the banner. “We were trying to find a safe way to celebrate Dominion’s abandonment of the ACP during the pandemic while also recognizing our fellow pipeline fighters for their continued work against the MVP. It was important to us to make sure those along the MVP route knew we had their backs. Ultimately, the Unity Banner was circulated along the path of the ACP in Virginia and North Carolina where community members wrote messages of encouragement and solidarity with MVP water protectors,” Ponton said.
The first signing occurred in Union Hill, a community in Buckingham County which was an integral part of the fight against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Ruby Laury, a resident of the Union Hill community and treasurer of BREDL Chapter Concern for the New Generation, offered words of encouragement to “let Mountain Valley Pipeline fighters know we are behind you. Keep your head up. Don’t give up.” Her husband, John Laury, a descendant of one of the freedmen who settled Union Hill, said “Keep God in the mix. Sometimes the journey seems dark. Don’t give up. Keep the faith.”
Stacy Lovelace, co-founder of Virginia Pipeline Resisters and co-sponsor of the Unity Banner stated, “The cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was a victory for the health and future of communities and further made the case for cancelling the similar Mountain Valley Pipeline. There is no need for the MVP or any other fossil fuel projects that, for the profit of only a few, harm many communities and hinder their ability to reap the economic and health benefits of renewable energy. As the Unity Banner says, MVP will be stopped and the communities of West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina will win.”
The Unity Banner was hosted in 16 communities; ten in Virginia and six in North Carolina. Hundreds of individuals signed the Unity Banner representing the diverse members of the coalition created six years ago who have now become a part of the resistance movement against natural gas and other fossil fuel expansion. When accepting the banner on behalf of the communities along the path of the MVP, Mary Beth Coffey a member of Preserve Bent Mountain stated, “I thank you for creating and bringing this symbol of solidarity to those of us still fighting to protect our communities.”
The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League is an environmental and social justice non-profit organization created to fight nuclear waste dumps from being sited in the mountains of Southwest Virginia and western North Carolina. Today, it serves chapters in six southern states including Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama