A pipeline through the AT sparks a fight
A pipeline that would cut through the iconic Appalachian Trail sparks a fight over natural gas expansion
BY | Reporting from Roanoke, Va.
The stretch of Appalachian Trail through the Blue Ridge Mountains here is prized by hikers from around the world for its open ridgelines, spectacular geologic formations and challenging slopes.
But one of the country’s most iconic viewsheds could soon be changed forever to make room for an energy project favored not just by fossil fuel industry boosters like President Trump, but also Virginia’s Democratic governor.
A natural gas developer with some powerful political allies is nearing final approval to plow a pipeline corridor as wide as 150 feet, tracking the trail for dozens of miles and burrowing through it at one point.
Amid the nation’s ongoing boom in natural gas production, federal rules have made pipeline construction an extremely lucrative enterprise, even in markets where the need is hotly debated.
To many, the Mountain Valley Pipeline has become a symbol of the building frenzy. Concern stretches all the way to California, where climate activists worry that such projects are undermining their efforts. Leaders of the Pacific Crest Trail Assn. fear that gas companies feel increasingly emboldened to impose an ever bigger footprint on protected lands.
“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 entrusted by the National Park Service decades ago with the task of managing the trail. The conservancy has never found it necessary to get involved in a pipeline fight in this way, but times have changed. “We’ve never seen pipelines of this size and magnitude,” Downs said. Continue story in LA Times HERE