Sometimes, the view from a distance clarifies priorities that are best understood from the view up close.
At ground level, the running controversy over a proposed natural gas pipeline through western Virginia looks simply like a heated dispute over property rights by landowners who,
understandably, don’t want their patch of paradise disturbed for a reason not of their choosing.
This is not unfamiliar territory in the region, though in this case the dispute has broader significance than most.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline would run underground across the mountains of West Virginia into Virginia and through Giles, Craig, Montgomery, Roanoke and Franklin counties into Pittsylvania County. In short, through a beautiful and ecologically significant slice of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Thus the passionate resistance of landowners and environmental activists has met what might be the unstoppable force of a fossil fuel industry that is deemed an essential factor in the nation’s continued economic prosperity.
The satellite view puts the regional conflict in the far larger context of national energy policy and the global threat of climate change.
At last week’s Forum on Natural Gas Pipelines in Roanoke, the overarching issue was framed neatly by Joe Lovett, executive director of Appalachian Mountain Advocates: It is a race between renewables and fossil fuels.
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