Appalachian Trial hikers protest Gov. McAuliffe's support for pipelines

Hikers are angry and say pipelines will harm the Appalachian Trail.

Anger over President Trump's decision to pull out of the climate change agreement fueled a protest in Virginia against two planned natural gas pipelines.  
 
One man carried a flag with a picture of the earth on it.
 
"I thought this flag would be a great thing to bring given the Paris Accord.  Stand up against POTUS, but on a smaller, more local account, we're here to oppose the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline."
 
The two pipelines will run about 1,000 miles delivering low-cost gas fracked from West Virginia into Virginia. 

Opponents say the pipelines will ruin beautiful views along the iconic Appalachian Trial, like McAee's Knob near Blacksburg. Both pipelines will cross the AT. 

Governor McAuliffe supports the pipelines "as significant opportunities to bring cheaper and cleaner energy to Virginia to support jobs and economic growth," according to spokesman Brian Coy. 

"While Terry McAuliffe  agrees that Climate Change is real, the actions he's taken in regard to these pipelines is completely inconsistent, completely inconsistent, with his stated purpose of protecting us from climate change," said Glen Besa, a hiker and protestor.  

Environmental groups say Dominion Energy will blast away the tops of 38 miles of  mountain ridges in West Virginia and Virginia, destroying vistas and natural springs hikers rely on. 

"When you look at a spring in the mountains, it just pops out of a mountain...If you take the top off a mountain, you disrupt the entire hydrology of that mountain. It will fill the streams full of mud. It'll be much harder to get water and in some cases the streams will dry up," said Besa.  

Dominion Energy says they'll restore the Mountain tops and not hurt the Appalachian trail. 

"To avoid impact to the Appalachian Trail, we're actually installing the pipeline 800 feet below the trail. And this is a plan that has been approved by the Forrest Service," said Jennifer Kostyniuk, Dominion Energy Communications Director.

The hikers delivered a basket full of compasses to the governor's offce "to help him find his way on this issue," they said.  

Governor McAuliffe supports the pipelines "as significant opportunities to bring cheaper and cleaner energy to Virginia to support jobs and economic growth," according to spokesman Brian Coy. 

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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