Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The Shenandoah Valley, Virginia (Photo: Anokarina / Flickr)

The Shenandoah Valley, Virginia (Photo: Anokarina / Flickr)

I’m an Eagle Scout, and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness

A gas pipeline would put a gash the size of a 12-lane highway along the Appalachian Trail. Is nothing sacred?

Griffin Bird

 by OtherWords

I’m an Eagle Scout from Virginia.

Troop 149, an enthusiastic and lively troop from Arlington, made me the person I am today. Being a member of Troop 149 meant a lot of things, but most importantly it meant incredible outdoor expeditions on the Appalachian Trail.

The Appalachian Trail, a treasured 2,200-mile hiking trail that traverses the Appalachian Mountains, was a mainstay of my youth.

I spent countless hours and made lots of memories on the trail — learning how to cook on a smoky campfire, leaving my tent to greet the crisp morning air, watching the sun dip below the mountains after a long day of backpacking. I wouldn’t trade these memories for anything.

My visits to the Appalachian Trail became more infrequent as I got older and my Scouting career came to a close. I shipped off to a college on Virginia’s coast, far away from the mountains.

Even as I grew older and busier, I found myself longing to be back out on that well-worn trail.

I wasn’t too troubled, though, because I knew it would always be there.

That is, until I learned about the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) is a proposed 300-mile natural gas pipeline that would cut right through the Appalachian Trail, and it promises to be a disaster.

The MVP poses an unprecedented menace to the Appalachian Trail, threatening to clear a 125-foot wide gash on either side.

This gash, which would be roughly the size of 12-lane highway, would extend far beyond the sides of the trail and would accompany the pipeline everywhere it goes. Iconic views of pristine wilderness would be marred by the MVP’s barren service corridor.

But it’s not just the view that would be at risk.

Pipelines leak, and they leak a lot. From 1986 to 2013, pipelines have spilled more than 3 million gallons of hazardous liquids around the country. That’s equivalent to leaking 200 barrels every day.

These leaks have devastating impacts on the environment and nearby communities, and it breaks my heart to imagine them in that Virginia wilderness.

Even if the MVP never leaks, it will still hurt communities. With the MVP would come three new compressor stations, which subject communities to air pollution, groundwater contamination, and unsafe noise levels.

As if these threats aren’t enough, building the pipeline would also set a dangerous precedent for development on our public lands. The pipeline would undermine the Forest Service’s Roadless Rule, which protects 58.5 million acres of public lands from development, and carve out 3.4 miles of Jefferson National Forest.

If this pipeline gets built, many more forests would be at risk.

The threats posed by the Mountain Valley Pipeline are grave, but they’re not unique. What’s going on in my home state of Virginia is a microcosm of what’s happening around the country.

Pipelines are spreading around the country like wildfire. And the Trump administration’s long-awaited infrastructure plan, unveiled this February, would turn many protected areas into firewood.

If approved, the plan would make it easier than ever before to run pipelines through national parks. It would push states to hastily grant permits to pipeline projects, and completely undermine the environmental review procedures that safeguard our environment from the destructive forces of pipelines.

The thing is, these pipelines often aren’t even necessary. Even without the MVP, Virginia’s existing natural gas infrastructure would cover our energy needs well into the future. But even if this wasn’t the case, the tradeoffs simply wouldn’t be worth it — not in Virginia, and not anywhere else.

I’m an Eagle Scout from Virginia, and I know that more pipelines aren’t what America needs.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Griffin Bird

Griffin Bird is a Next Leader on the Climate Policy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Gunman Who Tried to Breach FBI Office 'Contained' to Ohio Cornfield

Though the suspect's identity and potential motivations are not known, the attack follows fear of far-right retaliation for this week's federal search of former President Donald Trump's home.

Jessica Corbett ·


DOJ Moves to Unseal Warrant Used to Raid Trump's Mar-a-Lago Home

Attorney General Merrick Garland said that he "personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant" of the former president's residence.

Brett Wilkins ·


Voters Demand Biden Take Action to Address 'National Crisis' of Rising Housing Costs

"Biden must take it upon himself to use his executive authority in order to assist those who need it the most, or we will not only have a cost-of-housing crisis in this country, but a major homelessness crisis as well."

Julia Conley ·


Global PR Firm Reportedly Cuts Ties With Bank Over African Oil Project

Celebrating the move, a StopEACOP activist said that "the climate crisis is not only enabled by the fossil fuel companies but those who provide the financing and those that help shape their narrative."

Jessica Corbett ·


UN Chief Demands 'Common Sense' Restraint After Fresh Shelling at Ukraine Nuclear Plant

Any damage to Zaporizhzhia could lead to "catastrophic consequences" in the region and beyond, warned António Guterres.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo