In brief: Pipeline protests, tiger trouble, and more

Anti-pipeline activists in western Virginia are monitoring construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. PC: Mountain Valley Watch Anti-pipeline activists in western Virginia are monitoring construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. PC: Mountain Valley Watch

Pipeline pushback

In June, environmental activists celebrated as Dominion Energy canceled the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would have carried natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina, passing through central Virginia. A little further west, however, the fight continues, as construction on the Mountain Valley Pipeline inches along. Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission lifted a stop-work order that had been slowing the 300-mile pipeline project.

FERC also gave the MVP two more years to finish construction of the project, which has been grinding forward for six years, slowed by resistance from landowners and litigation from environmental groups.

The watch team for the Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights coalition, an umbrella organization made up of smaller groups pushing back against the pipeline, has carefully monitored the pipeline’s construction, looking out for violations that can be reported to the Department of Environmental Quality. It continues to find new violations (the photos above were taken at various points over the last two years).

“These ground photos of the construction are significant to me,” says Roberta Bondurant, POWHR’s co-chair. “We’ve got pipe that floated 1,000 feet across a floodplain when they built the week before storm Michael. Pipe that’s dated 2016 that’s out now, on the ground, [with] coating that’s over 4 years old.”

Bondurant points out that last week’s permit is not definitive. A key permit from the Forest Service is still missing, and other important permits are currently under consideration by the federal court in Richmond.

The MVP group continues to cut corners in order to continue construction, the activists say. “It’s a real word game they play with FERC to allow themselves to go forward,” Bondurant says.

PC: Mountain Valley Watch

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Quote of the week

This is the third fatal crash on Fifth Street investigated by CPD in less than three months…In memory of those who have died, CPD is asking motorists to be mindful of their speed. Please drive carefully.”

Charlottesville Police Department, after two people passed away in an accident this week

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In brief

Tiger trouble

Doc Antle, the sinister zoo owner famous for his role in Netflix’s viral “Tiger King” documentary, could wind up wearing orange himself—he’s been indicted on wildlife trafficking charges by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. Antle lived in Buckingham County in the early part of his career; the indictment alleges that he has recently worked with a private zoo in Winchester to move tiger cubs and other exotic species back and forth between Virginia and Myrtle Beach.

Back to school

After a period of contentious discussion, the Albemarle County School Board voted 4-3 last week to allow up to 5,000 preschoolers through third-graders to participate in non-virtual, face-to-face classes twice a week, starting November 9. Parents must decide by October 16 if they’ll send their kids into school or continue with virtual learning, while teachers have only until the 15th to request to stay home.

Museum motion

As Charlottesville continues to grapple with its legacy of slavery and oppression, a group of nearly 100 local activists, community leaders, and residents have called for the creation of an enslavement museum in Court Square, “depicting in a more visual manner the injustices, horrors, and truths about enslavement.” They hope the city will acquire the 0 Park Street building, the site of the auction block where enslaved people were sold, to house the museum. In February, Richard Allen, a 74-year-old white man, removed and disposed of the slave auction block marker (pictured below). He is now a member of the coalition calling for the museum.

PC: City of Charlottesville

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