Stories. It’s their personal heartfelt stories that rock me.
Stories told by Native American Indians as they cry over their beloved homelands sullied by polluting mines and scarring pipelines. Stories by sickened people from nearby Fayetteville claiming out-of-state well-injected frack waste is seeping into their drinking water. Stories told by families with cancer, asthma, COPD, heart disease, or birth defects who live near mountaintop removal operations. Stories by researchers confirming studies of higher rates of pollution-related diseases.
The stories keep coming. Stories like that from a Pennsylvania family watching helplessly while armed U.S. marshals guard a pipeline construction crew cutting 90 percent of the farm livelihood’s sugar maple trees confiscated in eminent domain to bolster a gas company’s profit.
A family in Doddridge County shows me the fracking operation adjacent to their property line that has permanently disrupted their serene lives. From their front porch they had watched an explosion that killed three workers. They give me 25 gigabytes of photos and videos showing the traffic congestion, pollution, accidents, and intrusions on what had been a peaceful area.
Every day more stories crop up from people in Virginia, West Virginia, and, yes, Pocahontas County pleading FERC, government officials, and investors to deny the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) that would rip out their hearts if their beloved lands, waters, view sheds, and neighborhoods are spoiled.
Even without the stories, ACP economics would be bad for Pocahontas County. Not even one permanent job. Not even one cubic foot of natural gas. Instead, devaluation of adjacent property values due to loss of scenic value and potential pipeline explosion. Disruption of our lives during construction. And much more – just so private corporation and business interests hundreds of miles away can increase their profits. Their gain, our loss. So who does our government work for? For “we the people” or for “we the powerful far-away businesses”?
Which reminds me of another story, this one in the Bible. King Ahab, rich as he is, nevertheless covets a grape orchard owned by lowly Naboth. Ahab offers a high price. Naboth refuses since he has promised to keep the land as a family heritage. Conniving Queen Jezebel then seizes the land.
I’m touched hearing so many tearful and fearful stories. I will listen to them. Act. And join in with thousands of others who value God’s creation and beauty in its wholeness, who value protecting neighborhoods, who value sustainable clean energy, who value locally-derived jobs. I hope stories told years from now say that our lands and communities were saved.