Protestors gather in Uptown to fight against Mountain Valley Pipeline Project

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Protesters from environmental groups 350.org and GreenFaith gathered in Uptown Charlotte to call for the cancelation of a natural gas pipeline project.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline would carry natural gas, made up of mostly methane, more than 300 miles from West Virginia to southern Virginia. An additional Southgate Extension would add another 31 miles to the project, stretching it into Rockingham County North Carolina.

Equitrans Midstream Corporation, the developers, claim the project is essential to ensuring energy stability in the mid-Atlantic and southeast. Natural gas is the largest source of electric generation in Virginia and North Carolina.

Opponents like GreenFaith and 350.org have been protesting the project since it was first proposed nearly 10 years ago.

“It’s not a good choice for the wellbeing of our planet,” said Amy Brooks, an organizer with GreenFaith.

Wednesday’s protest was one of several organized throughout the region. The protesters worry the pipeline will endanger many of the waterways it passes through and will lead to an increased reliance on fossil fuels when they say the region should be focused on building up renewable energy.

“Why create new fossil fuel infrastructure?” Holly Adams, another protester, said. “Because then it’s locked in for a number of decades and we need to get away from that.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration considers natural gas a mixed bag in terms of its climate impact. Burning natural gas produces fewer air pollutants and less CO2 than coal, so it is considered a “cleaner” energy source, however there is a significant environmental impact from extraction through fracking and transporting natural gas, carries the risk of methane leaks. When methane escapes into the atmosphere, its greenhouse gas effect is 28 times stronger than the impact of CO2. That’s why some scientists argue natural gas could be worse for the climate than coal.

According to the latest construction update, the Mountain Valley Pipeline project has completed most of its major milestones and builders expect the pipeline to begin transporting gas in the West Virginia and Virginia portion by mid-to-late spring.

The Southgate Extension has faced multiple regulatory delays and the developers recently submitted a new, shorter design for the project. If approved, the developers estimate that construction would take until 2028. Protesters call for cancelation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline Project

(WATCH: How a new type of sand on the Outer Banks could help fight climate change)

Michelle Alfini

Michelle Alfini, wsoctv.com

Michelle is a climate reporter for Channel 9.

Comments on this article