Mountain Valley Pipeline equipment
Mountain Valley Pipeline construction equipment moving pipeline into place in July 2018. (Photo credit: Larry Metayer)

In 2018, Virginia Tech associate professor Emily Satterwhite locked herself to an excavator in nearby Jefferson National Forest. She was protesting the construction of a natural gas pipeline.

“For 18 years I’ve been teaching undergraduates about the role of the fossil fuel industry in Appalachia and the ways that it has damaged people’s environments, livelihoods, health,” she says.

So when Satterwhite heard about the proposed pipeline, she was determined to help stop it.

She’s not just concerned about the local impacts. She says to reduce global carbon pollution, Virginia needs more renewable energy, not fossil fuels.

She says if the state’s dependence on fossil fuels continues to grow, “the repercussions will be felt far, far, far from here with the rising sea levels, and the extreme weather events, and the droughts, and the political instability that comes with all that.”

Satterwhite was arrested for her action. She says as a privileged person with job security, she can afford that kind of risk, and that not everyone should follow her specific example. But she says she hopes to see more people demanding clean energy, “however that works in your life.”

Also see: Interview with Emily Satterwhite

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Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.