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Banner Drop on Virginia DEQ Central Office : "STOP WORK NOW #NoMVP #NoACP"

Richmond, VA. Thursday June 21st, 2018. 9am. A 10’ x 35’ banner was hung on the front of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality central offices in the Bank of America Building, downtown Richmond, Virginia. The banner read DEQ, 20 Violations. 0 Fines? Do your job! Stop work now! Fracking Poisons water. We are not a sacrificial zone! #NoMVP #NoACP

This is a call to decolonize space and protect our human rights to clean accessible water. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is a state agency and as such their primary duty is to create a space for transparent communication and public accessibility. The DEQ's central offices are in the Bank of America Building on 1111 E Main Street, Richmond, VA and guarded by Bank of America private security and Richmond City Police. In January of this year, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality moved all 322 of its central office employees into the 14th, 15th, 17th and 22nd floors of the 24-story Bank of America Building and signed a 124-month lease for 81,553 square feet (street view). Bank of America is the lead financier of two exploitative fracked gas pipeline projects currently being constructed in Virginia. Bank of America is the top bank investor of both the Mountain Valley Pipeline ($141 million invested) and Atlantic Coast Pipeline ($255 million invested) and is therefore profiting off the marginalization of rural communities, environmental racism, environmental classism, and destruction of our collective waters and rights to a healthy environment. Bank of America also finances exploitative fracking companies and extractive oil and gas industries internationally, and is known for using corporate philanthropy models to profit off of communities who do not have public sources of clean drinking water.

This building is a violent symbol of financial capitalism and a monolith of corporate financial sector dominance over a public agency and public offices. More specifically it represents how oil and gas industries have formed corporate ruling coalitions with our publicly funded agencies that are supposed to serve the health of all people. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is literally housed in a den of oil and gas parasites (Bank of America). When MSX disease was killing 90 percent of the oysters in the Chesapeake Bay, what we learned was an oyster can not filter and clean water when it’s shell is covered with parasites that colonize their tissue. It was these colonizing parasites that were responsible for the near extinction of an oyster species in the 1990’s that filters the Bay’s 18 trillion gallons of water. Today it is banks like Bank of America that have parasitically attached themselves to repressive state and federal power. We must work as swift collective water to remove these parasites off all shells. When a shell is free of parasites it will open again to purify water. Our attention and action to this building is a call for the Department of Environmental Quality to STOP WORK NOW on the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline until Bank of America’s seize of their agency is shut down and the 322 state employees are located in a public space where they can effectively do their job and serve the public without financial manipulation and the parasitic capitalism of waters.

This action calls on those who work for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline are causing irreparable damage to our waters. DEQ misadministration and failure to protect clean water sources demonstrates that the agency does not understand how essential it is to protect all sources of water in an epoch where water scarcity is threatening the existence of all forms of life. During the entire public deliberation of both the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline your agency failed to acknowledge the single most important fact about these pipeline projects. FRACKING POISONS WATER. To not shut down these pipelines is a decision to poison water and continue the violence of extractive fracking companies. EQT Midstream Partners is the primary partner of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and subsidiary of EQT Corporation who owns and operates fracking wells in multiple counties in Virginia and one of the primary fracking corporations in West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. This company destroys millions of gallons of water for every fracking well they establish and operate and have been fined numerous times by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for contaminating public water sources. These pipelines would accelerate fracking well development. WE ARE NOT A SACRIFICIAL ZONE! We urge you shutdown the MVP and ACP in order to deter the expansion of fracking and destruction of water. DEQ, DO YOUR JOB. 25 sediment and erosion violations have been reported by citizen monitors as part of the Mountain Valley Watch, yet you have failed to issue a single a warning, violation, or fine to MVP contractors or Mountain Valley Pipeline llc. Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources, Matt Strickler said that the state does not have the budget or the needed amount of trained employees to currently monitor the ongoing violations of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, yet Governor Ralph Northam has spent over $100 thousand dollars for state and county police to act on rural pipeline resistance in Bent Mountain, VA alone. Citations continue to be issued to citizen monitors working with water protection groups, yet the state has failed to put employees on the ground to monitor pipeline construction and violations. We demand that you STOP WORK NOW until you are able to appropriately process the violations currently submitted to your agency and issue fines for the water violations that have occurred.

Our action is a call for the State Water Control Board to act on this water security emergency by holding a public meeting before June 30th. We are calling on the SWCB to meet with us and hear our concerns. The misadministration of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is allowing our water security to be destroyed and the Citizen Board needs to take action. The Department of Environmental Quality’s website was down for multiple weeks and is still missing valuable information and public pages. This is not an acceptable reason for the DEQ to postpone our meeting with the SWCB until August 21st. The Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline have been able to continue construction although many impacted community members are reporting emergency situations of environmental harm and impacts to sources of drinking water. There is a significant reason to call an emergency meeting and the State Water Control Board’s authority to call a public meeting is permitted by § 62.1-44.11, and the Board can call to consider revoking certification for the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline by requesting "Board consideration" as permitted by § 62.1-44.15:02.

Our action is also a call to Richmond, Virginia. We call on you to stand in solidarity with rural communities across Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania that are directly impacted by the violence of these extractive gas projects. We call on you to bring attention to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Dominion Energy who are at this very moment planning to horizontally drill a fracked gas pipeline under the James (Monacan) River, your source of drinking water. Join us at Noon this Wednesday, June 27th, at 1111 E Main Street, where we will collectively present a public voice to the Department of Environmental Quality, follow up with the State Water control Board, and physically oppose Bank of America’s seize on our water security.

Water is a commons. No one has the right to destroy.

Solidarity! #NoMVP #NoACP #StopWorkNow #WeWillWin

#DEQ #StateWaterControlBoard #Stopworknow #MountainValleyPipeline #AtlanticCoastPipeline

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