Mountain Valley Pipeline will have Devastating Impacts on the A.T.

by Jordan Bowman | Jun 15, 2017

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) ​is strongly opposed to the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline project, which would dramatically scar the scenic landscape ​of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.), could contaminate clean drinking water, and cause local cities and towns that rely on outdoor recreation-based tourism to lose significant revenues.

Mountain Valley Pipeline Landscape Simulation

This rendering highlights the negative impact that the Mountain Valley Pipeline will have on the Virginia and West Virginia landscape,
disrupting iconic views along the A.T. for up to 100 miles.

The ATC has a history of working with various energy providers and other industries to ensure that the energy needs of the public are met while simultaneously preserving the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains and the unique hiking experience that the A.T. provides.

However, after the release of the ​questionable Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed ​project and witnessing the inadequacies of the environmental compliance process initiated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), we feel the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline threatens the A.T. on an unprecedented scale.

Background:

The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), spearheaded by EQT Corporation, is designed to deliver natural gas to Virginia and West Virginia, though it has been mired in controversy since its initial proposal. The pipeline would carry fracked natural gas for over 300 miles through the Virginia and West Virginia countryside, crossing over dozens of water sources, protected areas and, at one point, over the A.T. itself. The proposed project fails to meet numerous criteria the ATC laid out in a 2015 policy offering guidance on proposed natural gas pipeline projects.

Appalachian Gas Pipeline Construction

The ATC, the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club and many other local stakeholders provided input on how the project could be adjusted to avoid unnecessary environmental hazards and unsightly alterations to Appalachian vistas — including following existing infrastructure corridors already cut into the landscape — but, unfortunately, almost all of this advice went unheeded.

Here are some of the major concerns we have about the Mountain Valley Pipeline:

  • Permanent damage to iconic views along the Appalachian Trail
    The pipeline approval process failed to adequately study the visual impact MVP would have on the A.T. and the surrounding areas. Multiple iconic viewpoints in Virginia are predicted to be severely impacted, including Angels Rest, Kelly Knob, Rice Fields and Dragons Tooth — some of the most visited and photographed locations on the entire A.T. The proposed route for the project would require the ​creation of a "utility corridor" around the pipeline roughly the size of a 12-lane highway, which would effectively eliminate thousands of acres of pristine forest. The ATC ​estimates that the pipeline corridor could be viewed from up to 60 miles away at many viewpoints along the A.T.

  • Health, safety and water quality concerns for nearby communities and the surrounding environment.
    Numerous safety concerns loom over MVP as well. Situated on land that is geologically unstable — crossing over a designated seismic zone — the risk of severe erosion, landslides and pipeline failure are extremely high. Such instability also poses a high likelihood of natural gas leaks, which could poison the surrounding environment and contaminate the drinking water used by nearby communities.

  • Harmful changes to the Jefferson National Forest Management Plan
    In order to accommodate the visual and environmental damage that would be caused by ​MVP, the U.S. Forest Service agreed to lower the Jefferson National Forest Management Plan standards for water quality, visual impacts, the removal of old-growth forest and the number of simultaneous projects passing through the borders of federally protected land. This unprecedented change is ill-considered, not only because it would permit MVP to destroy thousands of acres of pristine forest, but it would open the gates for future infrastructure projects to cause similar destruction. All of these changes were made without ​sufficient public review or input from other partners — a rash and dangerous change from the standards previously established ​through decades of cooperation.

  • A potentially significant impact on the economy for nearby communities.
    The negative impact this pipeline would have on nearby Virginia towns — ​including Pearisburg, Narrows and Newport — would reach beyond safety concerns. These communities are staunch supporters of the A.T. and benefit from tourism dollars provided by hikers and other visitors. This economic study highlights some of the potential impacts the pipeline would have on the income and property values in the surrounding areas. Both Pearisburg and Narrows have passed resolutions opposing the pipeline, as the wellbeing of their communities is at risk.

Dragons Tooth near Catawba, Virginia

 

The ATC does not take this position lightly — for months, we have attempted to find ways to minimize environmental and visual impacts through collaboration with ​MVP officials and the project's various partners, including the U.S. Forest Service. However, due to the massive impact the proposed project would have on the Appalachian Trail, the surrounding environment, and multiple communities and small businesses, the ATC strongly opposes the construction of the ​MVP, and we urge our members, the A.T. hiking community, outdoor lovers, and the citizens of Virginia and West Virginia to stand with us.


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163 Comments

  1. 163 Glenda Gray 20 Nov
    Please consider strongly the environmental and economic impact of a pipeline through a national treasure like the Appalachian Trail.  If corporate America continues its unthinking march through our irreplaceable natural resources it will one day find itself with nothing left to pillage.  Please take care!
  2. 162 Jerry Laster 21 Nov
    Member of ATC and avid hiker on the AT. Add me to the list AGAINST this pipeline!
  3. 161 William Groat 21 Nov
    Please help preserve this section of wilderness. 
  4. 160 Kerri Jones 21 Nov
    No more oil!!!
  5. 159 Chris Kennedy 21 Nov
    Our countries forest are our most important resource. We can do without oil. Solar and wind energies are real and work but there will never be anything to replace the trees
  6. 158 Tammy Huff 21 Nov
    Please Stop destroying our earth!  We Do Not have another one!! 
  7. 157 Elora and Monte McKenzie 21 Nov
        We support you and your positions wholeheartedly!!
  8. 156 Sue Masterson 21 Nov
    This pipeline is a multitude of disasters waiting to happen. We are taking leaps backward in this country. A pipeline will ruin this area.
  9. 155 Jan Kalouš 21 Nov
    Nothing is more important for future generation than Nature. I im from Czech Republic and I spend best time s on appalachian trail , dont let them destroy this beautiful place. Good luck!!!!!
  10. 154 Denise Guy 21 Nov
    As a true lover of our beautiful Appalachian region, count me also AGAINST this pipeline. There are other ways. Destroying our sacred Earth is not the right answer. 
  11. 153 Lynette Demetri 21 Nov
    This is terrible. I hope everyone can make this not happen. No one wants these pipelines carving up the land and causing potential and lasting damage. Who is letting this happen?
  12. 152 Cody 21 Nov
    Protect our forest, we don't need this pipeline through this section of the wilderness
  13. 151 Gerald Mistal 21 Nov
    The routed pipeline is inappropriate due to the topography and geology of this area.  This pipeline has a high chance of failure which would pollute land and water resources in many watersheds.  Also, to ruin a 100 mile viewshed of a National Scenic Trail is irrevocable. 
  14. 150 Stu Bitter 21 Nov
    I like it for the jobs it will create. Love the mountains though
  15. 149 Galia Goodman 21 Nov
    This projects will create a few jobs four a small period of time, while the damage to the environment and the LONG TERM damage to the recreation and hospitality industries in the area will be long-lasting and in some cases permanent.  Please take the long view.  No pipeline!
  16. 148 Alan 21 Nov
    These pipelines have to come to an end.  You oil people are jeopardizing out eco systems.  <:-)
  17. 147 Caitlin 21 Nov
    THIS IS PUBLIC LAND. IT IS NOT FOR SALE WITHOUT PUBLIC'S APPROVAL.
  18. 146 Megan Johnson 21 Nov
    Please consider how this trail affects thousands of lives each year, especially in this particular, spectacular section. Don't destroy one of our greatest pieces of national pride. The jobs will be temporary and then we will be left with a ravaged land. You can't get it back once you take it away.
    Please don't ruin this section of the Appalachian Trail when it certainly can be avoided.
  19. 145 Carol Fleischman 22 Nov
    It is unacceptable to degrade a valuable wilderness environment for gas company profits. 
  20. 144 Emily Kelding 22 Nov
    There is no need for a pipeline in the Appalachian mountains. The coal industry has already done enough damage. We need to start rebuilding and protecting these mountains, not destroying them.

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