POWHR Newsletter

1. An important opportunity for West Virginia in our Year-End Guest Blog by West Virginian Arts Advocate, Choreographer and Writer Sebrena Williamson
2. A recap on the Virginia State Water Control Board's approval of MVP's Clean Water Act Section 401 permit 
3. POWHR's Annual Appeal continues - with your generosity
4. POWHR's Book Club launches! 
5. News (in a new format!) and Upcoming Events 

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West Virginia, Clean Water, and a New Future; It’s Time to Lead

This week's POWHR Year-End Guest Blog is by West Virginian Sebrena Williamson. Sebrena Williamson (She/Her) is a writer, researcher, and choreographer, from Huntington, WV. As a result of her upbringing in West Virginia, much of Sebrena’s work analyzes and advocates for environmentalist causes within the Appalachian region and abroad.

Sebrena holds a BFA in dance, a minor in English, and a minor in Appalachian Studies from Radford University. While pursuing her undergraduate degree in 2018, Sebrena co-founded Saltare in Elementis Dance Collective (SIEDC) alongside co- founders Fiona O’Brien and Zoe Couloumbis. SIEDC creates artistic works that address social dilemmas, through the use of written research, contemporary theater, and inter-art collaboration. In 2021, SIEDC premiered their debut film Terra, which was filmed in the Ohio River Valley around Huntington, WV. Sebrena served as Executive Producer and Director of Research and Poetry for Terra, working with 23 other young adults to create a collaborative work that prioritizes Appalachian youth in the impending climate disaster. With the climate crisis looming, Sebrena hopes to continue producing works--whether that’s written, live performance, or film--advocating for a clean Earth.
Photo courtesy of Sebrena Williamson 

Here's a taste of her blog!

“The waterways in WV carry the pollution of Appalachia and The Rust Belt to America’s main waterway, The Mississippi. WV has long been a sacrifice zone--but it's time for the state to be a leader in the movement for clean water.

While it is important to fight for West Virginians, it is also important to remember that water pollution cannot be arbitrarily kept within a zone. In all actuality, the fight for clean water is a cross sectional cause that requires that sacrifice zones like West Virginia be put first.”

- Sebrena Williamson

Read Sebrena's Blog Here!

Virginia Water Control Board Approves Key Permit for Mountain Valley Pipeline

On Tuesday December 14th, the Virginia State Water Control Board approved a water permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) via a 3-2 vote, finalizing state approval for the MVP to build across hundreds of Virginia waterways.

POWHR's Co-Chair Roberta Bondurant said:

“As we reflect on the losses of neighbor landowners and communities suffering MVP’s destructive effects on land, forests and waters, in the midst of an intensifying climate crisis, Virginia’s Water Board has marked for itself an infamous place in history. In granting MVP, a 300 plus repeat offender, a Clean Water Act 401 permit, Virginia regulators have shown its willful indifference to the stark reality of climate catastrophe and squandered an opportunity to do real environmental justice for the people of Southwest Virginia. 

“MVP’s chosen route for its mega-pipeline, blasting and barreling across steep, landslide and earthquake prone mountain slopes, our pristine streams, and protective wetlands, multiplies already high risks of drinking water pollution and fiery explosions, imposing constant threats upon vulnerable and often silent witnesses in its path — including the elderly, single, low- and fixed-income residents, people of color, military veterans, and the disabled. MVP at once renders whole communities either ‘pipeline prisoners,’ or if they are fortunate enough to be able to leave, ‘environmental refugees.’ The result today, shameful but not surprising, leads us to brace for MVP’s continued wrath upon our people and their great places. We will go forward– relentless in pursuit of environmental justice — for the livable future that is the birthright of today’s and future generations.

Read Our Coalition Press Release
Allied organization Wild Virginia released a new report, "Documenting the Damage An Analysis of Virginia State Inspection Reports for MVP" that shows the “MVP has violated rules imposed by the Board's water quality certification for upland activities at least 1,500 times.” See Wild Virginia's press release on the report, Wild Virginia Submits Information to State Water Control Board, Records Show MVP Violations on Much Greater Scale than Previously Reported, and a piece by Wild Virginia's Conservation Director in the Virginia Mercury: Regulators should respect citizen water monitors and reject the pipeline permit

POWHR's Annual Appeal Continues 

We are over half way to our yearly fundraising goal of $20,000. Can you help us get there by December 31st? 
Donate to POWHR's Annual Appeal!
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Join Us for POWHR's First Book Club! 

Join us on Wednesday, February 16th, 2022 at 7:00 PM ET for this special event.

Do you struggle to put your feelings around ecological destruction and climate change into words? Do you feel alone at times in your grief and uncertainty about the future? Does the destruction of a place you love feel like losing part of yourself? Do you want to discuss how we can reinvigorate our biophilia, or 'love of life', to end this crisis? If so, we welcome you to join us for this special event. We will join together over Zoom to discuss Earth Emotions, New Words for a New World by Glenn A. Albrecht. Please join us even if you have not read the book! Please let us know if you need assistance obtaining a copy of this book to read. Please register at the link below!
Register for POWHR's Book Club!


Early yesterday morning, as NPR reported, "with billions of dollars for clean energy, the Build Back Better legislation has the potential to substantially and rapidly cut heat-trapping emissions in the U.S. But Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., rejected the bill on Sunday, and that means Build Back Better is effectively dead at a time when scientists say the world can't afford to wait on climate change." 

Last week, in the aftermath of horrific and deadly tornadoes from storms in Kentucky, Illinois and Arkansas, the people of this nation are again reeling from climate-changed influenced or enhanced disasters. We will continue fighting to stop the MVP and other fossil fuel projects that will only increase the suffering from climate change. Here's a great piece from Atmos on tornado recovery, Kentucky’s Whirlwind of Community. In other climate change and public lands news, last month the U.S. held the largest ever sale of oil and gas leases in the history of the Gulf of Mexico. They amounted to more than 80 million acres, in the midst of climate catastrophe. The Guardian reported that the "Biden administration was not legally bound to auction gulf drilling rights" but it did so anyway. Activists wrote a letter to Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, in protest of the sale, and Common Dreams also covered the story of why the Biden Administration made the sale when they were not required to.

In other federal agency news, we're keeping an eye on the Department of Energy and Carbon Management's Liquified Natural Gas monthly reports. U.S. exports of natural gas were 42% higher in the first six months of 2021 than the same period in 2020, according to Energy Monitor. The article notes the rising domestic natural gas prices could backfire on the industry, following rapid export growth, and could speed the rise of renewable energy. We're keeping an eye on this phenomenon in solidarity with those most affected by the LNG buildout on the Gulf Coast, and because of the U.S.' ambition to be the world's largest LNG exporter in 2022. From one of last week's Center for Western Priorities Look West Newsletters: the U.S. Forest Service recently decided "an 88-mile-long rail line that would transport mainly crude oil and sand for hydraulic fracturing operations in the Uinta Basin can pass through a 12-mile stretch of the Ashley National Forest, including roadless areas prohibited from development."

For a bit of good news, "New York City is poised to become the largest U.S. city to ban the use of fossil fuels for building heat, making it a test bed for national efforts to ditch natural gas" says E&E News Energywire's David Iaconangelo. NRDC's Gillian Gianetti, Attorney, Sustainable FERC Project, Climate & Clean Energy Program, noted "2021 was a good year for FERC reform. 2022 provides a chance for FERC to unveil transformative policies that will reshape how gas projects are reviewed, approved, and explained. For those unnecessarily put in harm’s way or facing land seizures because of FERC’s ham-handedness in the past, it’s long past time for a change. After years of doing the industry’s bidding, we need balance from the commission, including a real weighing of the public interest and a project’s environmental damage."

Other Upcoming Events

Wild Virginia Book Club: The Forest Unseen

"Join Wild Virginia as we celebrate the possibilities of the new year by discussing The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature by David George Haskell. The author observes a single square meter of Tennessee forest over the course of a year and shares how much beauty and wonder can be observed around us if we only take the time to pay attention."

Mon, January 10, 2022, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM EST. Register here

Appalachian Voices Presents: Our 2022 Virginia Legislative Agenda

"Virginia has made significant progress in recent years to transition to a just, affordable, and equitable clean energy future. However, there’s more work to be done and much of the progress that has been made in recent years is under threat. In 2022, the Virginia General Assembly will consider a wide variety of bills impacting our priority issues of environmental justice, solar energy, fracked-gas pipelines, just transition and fairness for electricity ratepayers. The legislative session begins January 12. Join us to learn about the issues we are working on this session, and how you can get involved!"

Tue. January 11, 2022, 6:00 PM ET.
Register here

Wild Virginia Presents: How to Use Freedom of Information Laws

"Join Wild Virginia for a workshop on state and federal Freedom of Information Acts (FOIAs) and learn how you can exercise your rights."

Mon, January 24, 2022, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM EST. Register here

Photo by Matthew Pickett
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