Opponents Rally to Stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline and ‘Manchin’s Dirty Deal’

Excerpts of talks by Mary Crow and Naadiya Hutchinson, speakers at the Sept. 8 Stop Mountain Valley Pipeline Washington, D.C. rally, recorded and produced by Melinda Tuhus

Hundreds of climate activists descended on Capitol Hill on Sept. 8 to lobby their elected officials and hold a rally opposing the fracked gas Mountain Valley pipeline. Activists oppose the deal made between West Virginia’s conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and party leaders to vote for the Inflation Reduction Act in exchange for an agreement to finish the pipeline and weaken bedrock environmental protections. While the Inflation Reduction Act included funding for more renewables, the bill also requires the government to auction oil and gas leases on federal land and in the Gulf of Mexico.

At the rally, frontline Black and indigenous activists came from the Gulf South, the upper Midwest and beyond to stand in solidarity with people from West Virginia and Virginia in the fight against the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

During the protest rally, the theme of which was “United to Stop MVP and Manchin’s Dirty Deal,” dozens of people spoke about the ties they are forging with others who also live in fossil fuel sacrifice zones. Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus participated in the protest action and brings us excerpts from two of the speakers, Mary Crow with the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation in North Carolina and Naadiya Hutchinson with the group We Act for Environmental Justice. We hear first from Mary Crow.  

(Transcript reflects audio that was edited to fit broadcast time constraints.)

MARY CROW: As indigenous people, we will lead you and teach you how to honor yourselves as human beings, but more so, how Creator placed you here on Mother Earth. We had a staff member ask us, How did you get here? And the brother, Jason, said, You know, you’re asking an indigenous person if we’d put the cars away and go back to our horses and walk, you’re damn right we would, in a heartbeat. (Cheers, ululation) And the staff member said, This meeting is over.

You know what? This is what we want to ask that staff member: How the hell did you get here? It was through a boat. How did we get here? Creator got us here. How did you get here?

So with that, I thank you, I thank you, I thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for coming here, for standing here today. We have common ground as human beings – not the color of our skins, not politics, not religion. Nothing but us being human beings, good to one another, good to our relatives, the four-legged, the winged, but most of all understanding that we, as indigenous women, have gone missing and murdered since colonialism and we still do not today get the protection from the federal government if we’re federally recognized tribes, or the state government if we’re state-recognized tribes. We want the same respect as all the other non-native women that go missing in the U.S. who are immediately found. We want our women found, too, starting back from the beginning. (Ululation)

Thank you. Have a good evening. Water is life! (Cheers, ululation)

NAADIYA HUTCHINSON: Hi everyone. My name is Naadia. I’m with WeACT for Environmental Justice (cheers). We are New York-based, D.C.-based, but I live in Baltimore, and I just wanted to start by acknowledging there are brothers and sisters in our neighborhoods in Baltimore that do not have clean water, this day. Baltimore City has been going through a boiled water advisory; there’s E. coli in our water as we speak, and that’s really heavy on my heart right now. So, I just wanted to start with that, that there’s a lot of folks who probably couldn’t be here today because they are busy in the streets trying to make sure that we have water.

And that’s why many of us are here as well, because this sacrificing of our lands is hitting us in so many different ways. We look at the West Coast and we’re going through enormous heat waves. We look at Mississippi, we don’t have water. All throughout the U.S. our infrastructure is crumbling, our lives are crumbling and we’re fighting so hard for a world we want to save. But who are we saving the world for? Is it for corporations? No. Is it for profit? No. Is it for the wealthy? No! We must end inequity immediately. The longer we allow for inequities to continue, the more vulnerable we all become. All America knows is inequity.

All America knows is sacrifice zones upon sacrifice zones UPON SACRIFICE ZONES! Allowing for one group to be sacrificed is allowing for all of us to be sacrificed. It might not be us this time, it might not be us next time, but it was us last time and it will probably be us in the future.

A true stance of solidarity is binding together and holding the line as we proclaim that we will not be sacrificed. When we stand together, we create opportunities for growth, for dreams of our future. My dream for the future includes clean air, it includes clean water, it includes clean energy. My dream for the future includes the passage of the Environmental Justice for All Act (cheers). My dream for the future includes equity and that means jobs for all of us, economic empowerment for all of us, with no sacrifices for Earth. We can empower people with jobs in an economy we’re actively trying to run away from, which is why we can’t continue to fund fossil fuel development. That’s why we can’t have this pipeline, because it’s not the empowerment that is needed, and it’s not our collective dream for this future.

We act for change, and we fight for justice. We act for change, and we fight for justice. Thank you. (Cheers)

That was Naadiya Hutchinson, government affairs manager with the group We Act for Environmental Justice, preceded by Mary Crow of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation – both spoke at the Sept. 8 Rally opposing the deal to complete the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Subscribe to our Weekly Summary