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As Opposition Grows Against Pipelines in Virgina, Far-Right Press Plays Up ‘Green Antifa’

By the collective - It's Going Down, December 18, 2017

According to the End of the Line podcast, which chronicles anti-pipeline fights across the US, there is growing opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipelines (MVP) among rural residents in Virginia, where both watersheds and over 300 homes are threatened with pollution and the threat of eviction in the face of proposed construction of the two pipelines.

Last Tuesday, this anger boiled over at a Virginia State Water Control Board meeting, where hundreds of rowdy residents, landholders, and anti-pipeline opponents spoke into the night about the threats to water and land and why the pipelines should be rejected, demanding that the water board cancel potential permits for pipeline construction.

According to RVA MAG:

After a contentious Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) hearing, the Virginia State Water Control Board voted Tuesday afternoon for a conditional approval of the 401 Certification for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) permit, tentatively stalling the ACP from moving forward with their pipeline construction planning process.

The vote was considered a positive decision for many landowners and environmental groups who oppose the pipeline, as the vote means ACP does not have an effective certification today.

This approval is contingent on many conditions which must be met within an undetermined 12-month period, set by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The vote is considered a more positive outcome for opposition compared to that of the DEQ hearing last week, which resulted in a full permit approval for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). A lawsuit has already been filed against the MVP decision in federal court by groups like Wild Virginia, Sierra Club, and Southern Environmental Law Center.

“We have never seen this kind of uprising on an environmental issue in this state,” Sligh said. “I’ve been working on these issues for over 35 years and I have never seen this kind of effort. I’ve never seen this kind of unity.”

Local organizers that talked to RVA MAG, stated that local leaders have met repeatedly with representatives from Dominion Energy who is pushing the pipelines, but have ducked local landholders whose homes and water is threatened:

“Ultimately, DEQ works for Terry McAuliffe,” said Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network founder and director. “Terry McAuliffe has never to this day sat down and met with landowners opposed to this pipeline. He’s met for hours and hours and hours with Dominion. […] It would be great if the governor himself would say, ‘I hear you, Virginians. I hear you, landowners. I hear you, farmers. I hear you, students.’”

“Everyone in rural Virginia wants to protect Virginia and wants to protect their water,” said Cathy Chandler, Roanoke County landowner. “I felt the Board tried to ask good questions, and they got a very circuitous, jumbled response [from DEQ] without time and attention to giving an answer with clarity.”

The End of the Line podcast recorded live from the hearings and produced a podcast on the growing anger in the Virginia area, even in historically conservative areas, over the pipelines:

While the recent decisions of the Water Board to delay water permits in the face of mass opposition is encouraging, local residents know that the road ahead will be a long one and that the fight is far from over. But in the face of growing public opposition, fossil fuel bosses and the elite politicians which are pushing the pipelines turn towards a steady ally to demonize the growing grassroots resistance: the fat-cat far-Right press.

Kevin Mooney, writing for The Washington Examiner, a long time author of hit pieces against environmental and antiracist groups and a champion of the Trump administration and a former author at Breitbart which has worked openly with white supremacists, recently published an article about “green Antifa type groups” and the fight against pipelines in Virginia. He wrote:

Pipeline projects that expand on the natural gas revolution continue to attract opposition from green activists. They do not speak for the broad cross-section of Americans who stand to benefit from reliable and affordable sources of energy. But they remain well-organized and well-funded much to detriment of America’s geopolitical standing…Both the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have passed important regulatory hurdles in the past few months. 

That much is made apparent by what appears to be an environmentalist version of Antifa working within the framework of a self-described “digital community center for anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements” known as It’s Going Down. Like Antifa, which is short for anti-fascist, It’s Going Down is a loosely configured network of activists opposed to capitalism.

Most of Mooney’s article is an attempt to claim that It’s Going Down is actually an activist group and not a news website, which is completely false, and goes on to imply that we are involved in the anti-pipeline battle in Virginia, which is laughable. Mooney also of course uses his article to pump up far-Right conspiracy theories such as that grassroots groups are “well-funded,” a dog-whistle to the idea that DNC puppet masters like George Soros control all protest movements, and also that the majority of Americans support pipelines and oppose protesters.

In past articles, Mooney has also given credence to the idea that antifascists and participants in social movements are domestic terrorists. Ironically, his former workplace Breitbart was recently found to be in connection through Milo Yiannopoulos with many of the same groups and individuals that organized the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA, which led to the death of one antiracist protester, Heather Heyer, and two law enforcement officers.

Despite the rhetoric coming out of sewers like Mooney, the majority of poor, working-class, and middle class people on the ground in Virginia oppose the pipelines, even in historically conservative areas, which are all threatened by eviction and water pollution. Also, as the campaign against the pipelines grows, everyday people are beginning to see the close relationships between Dominion energy and elected officials. In a podcast of End of the Lineone local resident describes calling local politicians about pipelines only to have them tell them that they could “do nothing” in the face of the energy giants, and that they “owned” the state. When people see this reality, they get angry, and they get organized.

Towards this end, Mooney mentions a recent anonymous submission that was published on It’s Going Downwhere a group of people claimed responsibility for placing several anti-pipeline banners in front of the home of someone on the Water Control Board. Mooney writes that the placing of a banner in front of a home was an “aggressive tactic,” which begs the question: what type of tactics seek to evict 300 people from their homes and poison their water sheds on land that they own?

Hacks like Mooney and conspiracy peddlers like Alex Jones of InfoWars, are hoping to cash in on right-wing clickbait that is obsessed with “Antifa,” while also demonizing certain sections of popular grassroots movements in an attempt to divorce them from their base of support while normalizing repression from the State. In the end, this type of demonization will backfire, as people in Virginia whose homes, water, and land is threatened by rich elites are coming together and organizing across lines of race, geography, and political identity, and fighting for their own interests.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.