May 15th, 2018 by Kurt Lowder
Renewable energy is getting a boost as grassroot campaigns to stop pipelines and other fossil fuel developments are springing up organically all over the world. Terry and Minor Red, who are mother and daughter, were able to hold up a EQT Midstream Partners pipeline for at least 34 days. The mother-daughter combo only gave up after being found in contempt of court and were facing a DAILY $1000 dollar fine. They may have lost the battle, but this war is far from over.
Subsequent to the protest, they were later charged with trespassing on their own property, among other charges.
This is the type of brilliant story that the majority of corporate media routinely ignore as they tell us the 33rd new development of the Stormy Daniels case. Look, I get it that the Stormy Daniels could potentially lead to some type of Watergate moment, but with a 24-hour news cycle, maybe the media could spare an hour for this type of heroic story.
Of course, telling this story would jeopardize losing their fat check from the American Petroleum Institute and other fossil fuel groups that advertise for seemingly no apparent reason other than an implicit bribe to not cover environmental stories that matter. According to Huffpost, in at least one week in March, CNN gave more ad time to these fossil fuel public relations groups than it spent covering climate change.
“In the third week of March, after it was announced that February had been the hottest month on record, CNN aired four minutes of climate change stories. It broadcast 10 minutes of ads from API. During that same time, the study noted that CNN also aired dozens of ads from Koch Industries.”
Delaying a pipeline for 34 days is costly, and the fossil fuel industry cannot risk stories like this being told to the masses. These pipelines have to cross numerous properties. If only a small fraction of landowners put up a principled resistance against them, the pipelines may well be scrapped. For them to profit, they need an uninformed, apathetic public that believes eminent domain really applies to their business.
The fossil fuel industry uses eminent domain routinely in ways it was never intended. In this case, Roanoke Gas, which is the local utility in the Terry family’s community, only owns a 0.5% interest in this pipeline. Through this nonsensical technicality, EQT Midstream Partners was able to attain eminent domain under a law written in 1938.
My father worked for Caltrans, the California Highway Department, as a right-of-way agent. He appraised the land needed for highway construction and negotiated a fair price with land owners. Nearly all landowners understood the need and quickly agreed to a price slightly above market value. It was my father’s job to treat them with respect and offer them a more than fair compensation.
At the age of 5, I still remember eating an open-faced tuna sandwich made by the landowner with whom my Dad was negotiating. I was baffled by the fact it was missing the second piece of bread, but the old lady was so nice I would not dare ask for a second piece of bread. It was one of the best days of my life. That morning, I got the word I did not have to go to school and would instead be heading up the coast of California towards Monterrey. I can still smell the coastal Californian pines.
Now those very trees are being threatened by the misuse of eminent domain that is allowing climate change to continue, and it makes me sick to my stomach. Fossil fuels are being given an unfair advantage in the marketplace as they cut corners and behave as the mafia does. Eminent domain is only supposed to be exercised for the public’s good, and clearly these gargantuan pipelines are not good for the public. They are choking us and planet. They are polluting our water and soil.
The childhood experience I explained above was the exact opposite of how Terry Red and daughter Minor Red were treated. Landowners are being harshly intimidated and surveilled by private security forces who frequently wear masks. They enter and exit landowners property at will and without permission. These pipelines are being pushed through without due diligence as government officials of both parties are legally bribed with campaign contributions. Our police are being deputized by the pipeline builders and their associates in the industry.
The worst part is that the natural gas running through this pipeline is being exported far away from the communities through which the pipeline passes. This private company and police continually slithered around numerous laws to greenlight this project as quickly as possible.
This pipeline is crossing numerous waterways and traversing steep, rocky, and mountainous terrain which greatly increasing environmental risks. According to Minor Terry, and contrary to the pipeline commercials, this pipeline is not state of the art. It is being thrown into the ground haphazardly. Major risks are being taken for major profits. This is not about the public good; it is about corporate profits.
The most shocking revelation within the interview is this 42-inch pipeline is the largest ever constructed, and should it explode, the blast radius is 2.5 miles. It could wipe out the entire Red Family who have been there seven generations.
In case you think natural gas pipelines are rare, here are few examples of natural gas pipeline explosions, all of which would pale in comparison to this pipeline exploding.
Another important note is this pipeline requires approval from the executive branch of the US government, and the Democratic Governor also has significant power over the process. Since 1999, only two pipelines have been denied by Federal Regulatory Commission (FERC). The interview with Red and Terry Minor goes into greater detail on these points and more.
Here is a more detailed analysis of natural gas and pipeline explosions than I could ever do. Journalist George Joseph of CityLab wrote, “Over the last thirty years, just under 9,000 significant pipeline-related incidents have taken place nationwide, according to data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. (Not counted in this total are thousands of less “significant” pipeline-related malfunctions.)”
The pipeline company paid third parties to hastily conduct pathetic archaeological digs. Even though numerous Native American artifacts were found, the pipeline process was not hindered. Often Native American representatives are not allowed to be present on these digs. In effect, they are rapidly walking through motions with these archeological digs. Remember, it is pipeline companies paying the third parties, and not the government.
I will spare you any further summaries of the interview, because I really encourage you to watch this interview with Red and Terry Minor. It is full of information and great humor. These powerful ladies really know their stuff. You will remember their story long after you forget the important pipeline explosions statistics. It is these type of stories that will create a critical mass of people required to lead the transition away from using natural gas to renewable energy to power and heat our homes.
The Terry family provides multiple reasons why renewable energy is far superior to natural gas, irrespective of the climate change consequences. They noted there were plenty of great Virginian jobs to be had in wind and solar. These important arguments are extremely useful to environmental advocates who have to opportunity to converse with individuals who are not motivated about climate change.
I encourage you to use a diversity of attacks as you have opportunities to converse with others. Listen more than you speak. Remember that while science is based on statistics, facts, etc., stories are important too. People remember stories and are motivated to act by them. Science, in fact, has proven the importance of stories (anecdotes) in affecting individual behavior and societal change.
A few more notes on Jordan Chariton, formerly of TYT politics. While with TYT politics, he provided excellent coverage of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) Protests. He has covered Flint Michigan (among hundreds of other cities with poisoned water across the country) and the Trans Pecos pipeline in greater detail than anyone in the mainstream media. He has begun his own media company and you can support him on Patreon to help him continue to do real investigative reporting.
These pipelines are not just pissing off environmentalists. They are enraging Libertarians who strongly believe in property rights. The two are joining forces in ways never imagined.