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Crawford: Still time to fight pipelines

Crawford: Still time to fight pipelines

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In the recent U.S. District Court proceedings where property owners and Mountain Valley Pipeline squared off, I was struck by a stark contrast. MVP claimed “irreparable harm” through the loss of millions of dollars if the project is delayed, while property owners faced even more profound losses.

Already, lives have been disrupted, shortened by stress and cast into limbo. This is the true irreparable harm, and the destruction hasn’t even begun. How do we weigh this human toll against the money MVP will lose if the project doesn’t proceed as hoped? Is anyone in MVP really going to suffer? No one asked them to put their millions at risk on such an unprecedented, monumental gamble. The engineering challenges alone leave me aghast.

A giant in the opposition efforts taught me that not everything the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approves gets built, and not everything begun gets finished. Now is the time to pour it on, to find your strong suit, to realize we have impact. By the time you read this, we may have prevailed for the time being in district court.

Regardless, this monster has a long way to go, and we have reasons to keep fighting. For instance, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection recently stopped construction of Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipeline, citing the discharge of industrial waste without a permit and the spilling of drilling fluids. The company has 30 days to indicate how they will address these problems. Also, the Constitution Pipeline through New York State and Pennsylvania had been approved by FERC but the New York Department of Environmental Conservation concluded that Constitution did not provide enough information to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act, thereby stopping the project. The company appealed NYSDEC's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit and lost.

An attitude of “Why fight, they’ll build them anyway?” will send pipeline developers chuckling to their bulldozers. If not engaged yet, don’t think, “too late.” Think: “Just in time.”

DAN CRAWFORD

ROANOKE

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