Conservationists lash out at plans to build natural-gas pipeline on scenic Appalachian trail

A natural gas developer has the blessing of Virginia's Democratic governor to build a 150-feet-wide pipeline along dozens of miles of Virginia's Appalachian Trail.
By Linda Mack | Jul 18, 2017
A natural gas developer has the blessing of Virginia's Democratic governor to build a 150-feet-wide pipeline along dozens of miles of Virginia's Appalachian Trail. But the Mountain Valley Pipeline, as the project is called, is facing robust opposition from conservationists who deride it as a manifestation of out-of-control energy construction nationwide.
"Everybody, not only in the East, but around every national scenic trail, should be concerned about this," said Andrew Downs, regional director with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the 90-year-old nonprofit organization that manages the trail under a longstanding agreement with the National Park Service. "We've never seen pipelines of this size and magnitude."
Other conservation groups share Downs' concerns and note that the pipeline would cut through seven historic districts, including the historic village of Newport. Preservation Virginia now lists Newport as one of the nation's "most endangered historic places" due to the pipeline.
Natural gas is a fast-growing industry in the United States, with around 9,000 miles of new pipelines now in the planning stages nationwide, including the Appalachian trail pipeline. Proponents praise natural gas's comparably lower pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions than those of coal and oil, but critics contend that natural gas's lower emission levels are still too high. They also warn that expanding natural-gas infrastructure threatens to derail U.S progress toward reducing carbon emissions over the long term.
"Gas helped this country get off coal, but now deep decarbonization requires getting off gas," said Michael Wara, an energy law scholar Stanford University. "If we build all this gas capacity, we will have a strong incentive to use it for its useful life, which extends well into 21st century. That will blow our climate goals."

---

Have something to say? Let us know in the comments section or send an email to the author. You can share ideas for stories by contacting us here.

Comments
Comments should take into account that readers may hold different opinions. With that in mind, please make sure comments are respectful, insightful, and remain focused on the article topic.