Hoppy Kercheval Disregards the Facts about Fracking in His Love Letter for the MVP

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Hoppy Kercheval, a mouthpiece for the fossil fuel mono-economy that has robbed West Virginia and her people since the late 19th Century, is angry that environmental groups and activists have delayed, again, the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).

In a column penned on April 13 for WV Metro News, he rehashed the legal woes of the MVP – woes which are the result of the MVP’s own hubris and the likes of cheerleaders such as Joe Manchin and Kercheval. Their false narrative about the so-called benefits of fracking totally disregards the dangers of fracking, pipeline construction and related infrastructure; that has been exposed, which is why people are agitated and the courts continue to rule against the MVP.

His latest complaint is that The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has vacated a Clean Water Certification from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for the (MVP).

Failed erosion controls along a pipeline route in West Virginia

The decision, announced on April 3, stops construction of the MVP immediately – for now. The Court wrote, “We find the Department’s justifications for its conclusions deficient and vacate the certification.” Furthermore, In its decision, the three-judge panel repeatedly referred to the decisions about the MVP by the DEP as “arbitrary and capricious.” 

Naturally, Kercheval ignores these facts. His column is nothing more than a regurgitation of industry talking points, but he does make a few startling statements that demand a response. One observation he makes is, “Details about permitting and court filings do not make for very interesting reading.”

I do beg to differ. And, I have the proof! I have covered the fracking industry in West Virginia for a decade. As a result, I have heard countless fascinating stories about the MVP. In fact, these first-hand accounts of reluctant citizen activists who rose up organically in grassroots resistance to the fracking industry is what led me to write my latest book, “Fractured Sanctuary: A Chronicle of Grassroots Activists Fighting Pipelines of Destruction in Appalachia.”

Photo by Mara Eve Robbins.

Indeed, it is governmental regulatory agencies at the federal and state levels that have ignored permitting requirements, hence leading to the court challenges. These challenges occur because of the great harm done by the MVP, which is why the courts are often siding with the people.

Following are links to a few articles that are included in the book. I believe they make for quite interesting reading. These accounts are the evidence of the bullying, deceptive and dangerous tactics of the now-abandoned Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and MVP.

EQT Letter Characterized as ‘Misleading’ and ‘Bullying’

Fracking Poses Threats to Public Health, Say Experts

Standing Their Ground

WVDEP Secretary Acknowledges Agency’s Effectiveness is Limited by Politics

West Virginia Pipeline Project Cited for Numerous Violations

And those articles are from the beginning of the process in 2015. As those along the MVP’s route can report, EQT has become only more aggressive, as have the politicians in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry. In fact, in a letter received from Justin McClain (featured in “Standing Their Ground”) of Doddridge County, dated March 3, 2023, he revealed, “Things are no better with the pipelines. MVP ran a 42 inch pipeline across (the) Stonewall Pipeline right up the road where we got all the water and mud before so now we get twice as much as before. Then (the) Atlantic Coast Pipeline ran a 42 inch pipeline back in the hollow behind the house and it crossed (the) MVP so we have two 42-inch pipelines crossing each other. If they even put gas in them (and) if they get a leak in them, God help us all.”

Justin McClain (L) listens as his father, Robert talks about the Stonewall Gas Gathering Pipeline

Kercheval also claims, “The relentless opposition to the Mountain Valley Pipeline threatens the nation’s energy security and damages West Virginia’s economic prosperity.” He offers no evidence. Because there is none. I’ve seen the man camps and out-of-state cars. Local jobs are temporary and dangerous. The only economic benefit is to EQT. As for the Straw Man argument of our “energy security,” I address that in the book’s Introduction.

First, I acknowledge some Key Assumptions:

  1. Change begins with us. We must change our consumption habits. Consumption/materialism is a root cause for ongoing and increased demand for fossil fuels. Until we all adjust our behavior to more sustainable lifestyles, all other efforts are undermined.
  2. There is little evidence of a willingness – at least within the United States – to reduce consumption.
  3. The war in Europe is creating an energy crisis that means pipeline construction may get a new look to mitigate the human crisis the war is causing.

Yet, I argue, despite all of these challenges, anti-pipeline activists must hold firm on the larger principle that building the MVP is not going to solve Ukraine’s energy problems, but the dangers of the pipelines and related infrastructure remain quite real to the residents of Appalachia.

Kercheval also writes, “It is reasonable to believe the DEP can address those issues, but that will take time.” No, it is not reasonable, as the articles above reveal.

Kercheval saves his most condescending remarks for grassroots activists when he writes, “Of course individuals impacted by the pipeline and organizations concerned about environmental effects have a right to challenge the project and regulating agencies have a responsibility to enforce the law.”

Well thanks, Hoppy, for deeming it allowable for us to exercise our First Amendment rights. But we don’t need your permission.

Young West Virginians express their sentiments about the West Virginia legislature’s 2016 session. Photo by Chad Cordell, Kanawha Forest Coalition.

He adds, “But there is a difference between making sure the laws are followed and deliberately trying to kill the project, which is the stated goal of climate activists.” There may be a difference, but it isn’t as simple as he claims. Many landowners early in the process were deceived and fooled by the MVP, so an organic, citizens grassroots uprising developed to do what the State of West Virginia was and is not doing – monitoring the public health and environmental impacts of the MVP.

It isn’t surprising then, that based upon EQT’s tactics and deception, combined with the overwhelming evidence of the destructive nature of the pipeline on people, the land, air, water – and its contribution to the Climate Emergency in Appalachia – that people would seek “to kill the project.” Read here and you’ll find out why.

You can also learn more over the Earth Day weekend, when I will be in Hillsboro and Morgantown discussing my book in open forums.

© Michael M. Barrick, 2023


  1. The online source Wikipedia defines “impunity” as: “…the ability to act with exemption from punishments, losses, or other negative consequences.[1] In the international law of human rights, impunity is failure to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice and, as such, itself constitutes a denial of the victims’ right to justice and redress. Impunity is especially common in countries which lack the tradition of rule of law, or suffer from pervasive corruption, or contain entrenched systems of patronage, or where the judiciary is weak or members of the security forces are protected by special jurisdictions or immunities. Impunity is sometimes considered a form of denialism of historical crimes.”
    Acting with impunity is the hallmark of the mega-corporations behind building the MVP, as witnessed by voice after voice after voice in Barrick’s latest book “Fractured Sanctuary”. When State and Federal regulatory bodies allow such egregious impunity to run rampant, then by default, ‘reluctant activists’ must rise up, reclaim, and redeem their rightful claims to live in a safe, healthy, and clean environment.

  2. Great email today, Apr 15. They will turn the planet into a cinder before passing up a nickel of profit, if they can.stombond

  3. Powerful essay, Michael.

    You pen is a mighty sword against exploiters and fabricating propagandists like Hoppy.

    Thank you!

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