Pipeline Lawsuits Threaten Sacredness of Appalachia

Updated 4 years ago Special to HuntingtonNews.Net

CHARLESTON, W.Va.News that Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC (MVP), has sued 103 West Virginians that have refused to allow the company to access their land to survey for the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, “is just the latest assault by the fossil fuel industry upon the people and land of West Virginia, Appalachia and further, including the eastern regions of Virginia and North Carolina,” said Michael Barrick, an organizer of the “Preserving Sacred Appalachia: Gathering, Speaking and Acting in Unity,” conference.

“These and other bullying tactics by the industry demonstrate just how relevant and timely the conference is,” offered Barrick. The gathering will be in Charleston on April 20th and 21st at the St. John’s XXIII Pastoral Center. Those who register for the conference can join in conversations with a wide variety of experts. Registration is open through April 13.

 “As disturbing as this overreach is – to seek to seize private property to enrich private company shareholders – it is also quite typical,” argued Barrick. “The use of eminent domain reveals an arrogant and covetousness mindset. Our people and our land are sacred.  It is an urgent call to action by preservationists, scientists, people of faith, farmers, educators, activists, artists and all those who value the West Virginia state motto, ‘Mountaineers are Always Free.’ We are going to stand together and say, ‘enough is enough.’”


The list of speakers includes:

  • Susan Hedge, an ecological educator with the Appalachian Faith and Ecology Center in Southwest Virginia and a member of the Catholic Committee of Appalachia;

  • Bill Price, the organizing representative for the Sierra Club - West Virginia Chapter;

  • Allen Johnson, who has coordinated Christians For The Mountains since 2005. It is a group focused on ending mountaintop removal mining;

  • Tierra Curry, the Senior Scientist and a conservation biologist at the Center for Biological Diversitywhere she works to gain protection for endangered species across the country;

  • Elise Keaton, the outreach and education coordinator for the Greenbrier River Watershed Association;

  • Angie Rosser, the executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition since 2012;

  • Carey Jo Grace, with Our Children, Our Future, has been a regional organizer for the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Family Coalition since 2013;

  • Robin Blakeman, the Special Event and Membership Committee Organizer for the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, where she has worked for the last six years;

  • Ben Townsend, a West Virginia native that grew up amidst Hampshire County’s rich musical heritage. At a young age, he learned to play banjo and guitar in the old-time way;

  • Keely Kernan, an award winning freelance photographer and videographer. Keely is presently filming “In the Hills and Hollows,” a documentary which investigates the boom and bust impacts that mono-economies based on fossil fuel extraction have on local communities;

  • Michael “Mike” Manypenny, a former member of the West Virginia House of Delegates;

  • Bill Hughes, the West Virginia Community Liaison for the FracTracker Alliance;

  • Bob Henry Baber, a widely published Appalachian poet, novelist, creative writing teacher and mosaic artist;

  • Hannah Spencer, with Aurora Lights/Not in My Forests, and a West Virginia native with a passion for the outdoors;

  • Barbara Ann Volk, a Lewis County landowner who became a reluctant activist in opposition to fracking and related pipeline development when she learned that nearly 300 fracking well pads are scheduled to be built near her quiet and pristine farm;

  • Lindsay Barrick, the Director of Programs at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Hickory, N.C., the sponsor for the conference. As an artist, she also passionately advocates for the inclusion of the arts to create an atmosphere of worship; and,

  • Michael Barrick, the founder of the Appalachian Preservation Project and publisher of the Appalachian Chronicle.


“Preserving Sacred Appalachia: Gathering, Acting and Speaking in Unity,” will be April 20th and 21st at the St. John’s XXIII Pastoral Center in Charleston, W.Va. The conference is open to the public, though advance registration by April 13 is required. Folks can register by visiting the website of the Appalachian Preservation Project. They can also learn more about the agenda, view a brief video explaining the conference, and read the speaker biographies.


This unprecedented interfaith and interdisciplinary gathering is sponsored by St. Luke’s United Methodist Church of Hickory, N.C. In-state partners include West Virginia Interfaith Power & Light and the Sierra Club – West Virginia chapter. The Appalachian Preservation Project is handling planning and logistics.


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