Activists Disrupt Governor McAuliffe’s Keynote Address at Energy Symposium

Abingdon, VA — Five activists disrupted Governor McAuliffe’s keynote address at the Biennial Natural Resources and Energy Law Symposium today by performing a poem written specifically for the Governor and creatively demanding that he “call off” the proposed pipelines threatening to go through Virginia. The activists were members of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, SEED: Stopping Extraction and Exports Destruction, We Are Cove Point, and FANG: Fighting Against Natural Gas.

Activists block the audience’s view of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe during his keynote speech at the Biennial Natural Resources and Energy Law Symposium with a banner that reads “Gov + Gas = BFFs 4 Life!”

Taking turns with each verse, they stood on chairs and recited a poem entitled “McAuliffe Knows” (see text below). It spotlighted the hypocrisy of the Governor, primarily regarding his continued support of several natural gas pipelines proposed to devastate Virginia and the Appalachian region. The group targeted the Governor and the event itself – a “symposium” made up largely of representatives from the energy industry, government and academia, to address the “array of energy opportunities in Appalachia.”

The Governor’s keynote address was timed to occur immediately prior to a panel on “Natural Gas Pipelines,” which included a representative from Dominion Resources. On Friday, September 18, 2015, a consortium of energy companies, including Dominion Resources, formally applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 564-mile natural gas pipeline that would pass through West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. Another consortium, led by EQT Midstream Partners, is seeking to build the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would run from Wetzel County, West Virginia, to Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

According to the Appalachian School of Law’s Dan Caldwell, the day-long symposium was designed to “model an atmosphere of rational debate” in order to reach common ground on laws affecting energy production in Appalachia. Tickets for the event were $50 for students and as high as $200 for anyone not a member of a government or nonprofit group.

Whitney Whiting, a community organizer with Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League said, “The Governor continues to tout a ‘New Virginia Economy’ based on more fracking and more gas pipelines. But there is nothing ‘new’ about an economic system based on extraction and exploitation of land, people, and natural resources. How will fracked gas traveling through Virginia in massive pipelines benefit Appalachia? It won’t. It will benefit Dominion and EQT, not Virginians, or anyone else in the Appalachian region.”

The group’s participants said they had accomplished their goal of adding an extra voice to the day’s conversation, and by sending the message to Governor McAuliffe and industry representatives that the resistance to natural gas infrastructure in Virginia is stronger than ever.


McAuliffe Knows

McAuliffe knows
that climate change is real.
And when it comes to pipelines
he knows just how we feel.

He knows that fracking sucks
but he must have neglected
to tell us that he only said that
just to get elected

he promised to be a “brick wall”
for women of the state
but does he think the health of our bodies
ends with how we choose to procreate?

does he know that families are slowly dying
from methane-poisoned air and waters?
that fossil fuels like natural gas
steal futures from our sons and daughters?

doesn’t he know that there’s nothing “new”
about an economy based on extraction?
that in Appalachia of all places
the promise of jobs has zero traction?

Because we all know, even if he doesn’t
that exploitation is not the answer
when bodies are sacrificed for profit,
the only growth is rates of cancer.

McAuliffe, we are not deceived.
from you we expect nothing.
your pipedream is our nightmare
Your lack of morality disgusting.

you see nothing wrong with profiting
off of the misery of our neighbors,
in time you’ll see, this pipeline
won’t do you any favors.