Fighting for my community
by Donna Chavis, senior fossil fuels campaigner
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Yesterday, I was arrested outside the Supreme Court alongside nine other activists and pipeline fighters for taking a stand against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP).
Inside the building, the Supreme Court began hearing a case to determine whether the ACP should be allowed to cross the Appalachian Trail. Outside, we stood in the street and blocked traffic to send a strong message that we will stop this pipeline — and all other fracked gas pipelines.
I took a stand because, as a North Carolinian, it’s important to me to draw attention to the pipeline’s devastating and disproportionate impact on African American, Indigenous and low-income communities. This pipeline is an environmental and human rights disaster — and we need the Supreme Court and other federal decision makers to step up and stop it.
Today, I’m free — having paid my fine and spent a few hours in a holding cell to demonstrate the seriousness of our conviction. But thousands of my neighbors in North Carolina, not to mention many more people in Virginia and West Virginia, aren’t safe from the ACP. And climate chaos caused by fossil fuels still threatens us all. So I’m headed to Capitol Hill to tell our story and demand Congress take action to block this pipeline and end fossil fuels while the Supreme Court considers this case.
This fossil fuel development is based on greed and not need. It will lock us into 30 years of fracked gas use, further delaying the transition to renewables.
We cannot allow this to happen. So I went to Washington yesterday to make sure the Supreme Court and the fossil fuel industry hear our voices.
If built, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would generate more than 67 million metric tons of global warming pollution each year — the equivalent of 20 coal plants.
The pipeline would impact the 30,000 Native peoples living along the project’s proposed path.
The plan for the ACP also includes building an enormous fracked gas compressor station in Union Hill — an African American community of great historical and cultural significance in Virginia.
We’ve taken our message to the court, to the streets and even put our safety and freedom at risk to show how serious we are that this pipeline cannot be built. Now, I’m taking the call to stop the ACP to Congress.
I was proud to stand with pipeline fighters from all across the East Coast — to chant together, to stand in the street together and ultimately to go to jail together. If putting our bodies on the line is what it takes to stop the fossil fuel industry from bulldozing through our communities, that’s what we’ll do.
My cell mates for the day included fellow Lumbee and indigenous organizers, D.C. climate activists, folks who made the long drive from North Carolina and Central Virginians as well. We were of all colors, creeds, religions and backgrounds. The youngest participants were just out of high school, and we had elders with decades of experience fighting pollution and for the grandchildren we will do anything to protect.
People power is how we will stop the ACP, and it’s how we’ll eventually push Congress to stop all new pipelines and fossil fuel projects.