Water protectors raise banner over the James River: 'OUR WATER IS GREATER THAN PIPELINES'
Richmond, VA - The Virginia Water Solidarity Banner was lifted over the James River on Friday evening by over 40 water protectors. The banner drop was organized to support kayakers and paddlers that have been journeying down the James River since Monday. The paddlers were all part of Journey the James and started up river from Richmond at the point where Dominion Energy and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline plan to horizontally drill under the James River for a fracked gas pipeline. The Virginia River Healers assert that the construction process threatens the source of drinking water for Richmond and over 2.5 million people.
The banner was spread across the Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge in downtown Richmond, VA and graced the river with the words “Our water is greater than pipelines.” The Virginia Water Solidarity Banner is a 35' long anti-pipeline banner that includes a 30' two headed fish for the public to write down comments and sign their names. The banner has traveled the state to join impacted communities at public hearings, stand with water protectors and property owners on the front lines, and has been strung across threatened rivers. On August 22nd, the Virginia Water Solidarity Banner showed up on the doorstep of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s headquarters in Richmond, VA. After being raised in solidarity across the front entrance the building the banner was submitted to DEQ as a collection of 192 public comments in opposition to the the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipeline water permits. The submitted document highlights each individual comment gathered from front line communities across the state and show various personal connections as to why thousands of Virginians are taking a stand against these pipeline projects and protecting their water. You can view the document here.
These actions of water solidarity are a call for all Virginians to rise and protect the the 1,000 plus rivers, streams, and water bodies the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipeline threaten in Virginia. Over 14.4 million people depend on water from six Virginia River Basins that would be impacted by the ACP and MVP. One of these identified river basins is the James River Basin. The MVP would cross headwater streams of the James River in the Jefferson National Forest, and the ACP would cross the headwaters of the James River in the George Washington National Forest and has also filed for a blanket permit to horizontally drill under the Jackson River, Cowpasture River, and the James River (the three major water sources of the James River Basin). Our actions here in Richmond echo across the state in solidarity with rural communities fighting these pipelines. We understand that these pipelines impact our water security here in Richmond. Horizontal drilling under water bodies for fracked gas pipelines have caused environmental disasters in the past (Rover Pipeline spill in Ohio) and Dominion Energy and EQT Corp’s history of water violations have eroded public trust. Both parties have demonstrated that they will continue to put corporate interests before the public’s water security and the health of Virginia’s rivers.
Water is a human right. Our water is greater than pipelines and it is time to stand up and oppose these pipeline projects if you are one of the 14.4 million people reliant on water from Virginia's threatened river basins.