An environmental protester went to extreme lengths to stop the construction of a pipeline and grab the attention of government regulators.
Emily Satterwhite, a 46-year-old associate professor at Virginia Tech, received her punishment for a June 28 demonstration, where she climbed about 20 feet and tied herself to equipment and prevented construction crews from working until law enforcement safely removed her. In a deal with the Montgomery County General District Court of Virginia, she agreed to perform 200 hours of community service and remain out of trouble for a year in exchange for criminal charges against her to be dropped.
Satterwhite’s protest targeted Mountain Valley Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline project that will span over 300 miles from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia. The project is expected to deliver up to 2 billion cubic feet of gas per day, fueling growing demand for electricity generation in the Mid-Atlantic and the Southeast.
Like many other pipeline projects in recent time, Mountain Valley has been the target of numerous illegal demonstrations. A mother and daughter camped atop trees near Roanoke, Virginia, for over a month, blocking the line’s construction until a court ordered them down. Three young adults from Massachusetts drove to a construction site in Monroe County, West Virginia, in June and tied themselves to equipment until police removed them. (RELATED: Anti-Pipeline Activists Said They Enjoyed Their Experience … In Jail)
During Satterwhite’s hearing Thursday, around 20 environmental activists waited outside the courtroom, some of them waving signs that read “Still Here” and “Protect Our Water.” Satterwhite said she hoped her 14-hour protest would convince Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and other state officials to stop the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
“Today our hearts are breaking,” Satterwhite said, according to the Roanoke Times. “Tomorrow we will continue the fight.”
Development of Mountain Valley is anticipated to create over 4,500 jobs and generate $47 million in aggregate tax revenue. Environmental opponents of the natural gas line took a loss Wednesday when regulators ended a stop-work order that had paused construction.
The owners of the pipeline, Mountain Valley LLC, hope to have it operational by the first quarter of 2019.
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