July 20, 2020

Former Wild Virginia President Reflects on the Fight Against the ACP

By Deirdre Skogen

“A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.”  – Edward Abbey

As I write this, I am sitting at our campsite in Ramsey’s Draft, in the George Washington National Forest, elevation 2320ft. It’s quiet – only the sound of water flowing over rocks nearby, and my breathing. The news of the ACP’s long-awaited cancellation is a week old. It feels surreal. Euphoric. Final. The sweet taste of relief after years of an uphill heave that involved many hours, days, weeks, months, years is so gratifying. It makes me nostalgic. I’m remembering the meetings attended, letters to FERC, fundraisers, petitions drafted, and the countless faces of hard-working people that taught me perseverance, strategic intelligence, and stalwart stubbornness.

The threat is gone. All those years trying to stay on top of Dominion’s plans, trying every single day to keep them at bay, doing whatever necessary to defeat “by a thousand cuts” their ill-conceived project … is over.

The best part of all of this is that I can sit here in the middle of this wilderness, away from the complexities of life, and hear silence. It’s not deafening as some people claim, but rather a heavenly slice of relief. All the trees are still standing. I don’t hear any chain saws or heavy equipment buzzing in the background. Nor do I have to helplessly watch the desecration of these woods and this rich habitat. Everything is still. Everything is still intact. Here is a safe oasis of security and predictability. We need places like this. We always will.

Over the years, I witnessed people growing afraid and weary and angry, but their resolve never wavered. Habitats risked destruction, but the seasons rolled on. Communities, environmentalists, yogis, preachers, lawyers, nurses, mothers, children, fathers, grandparents, hikers, farmers, college students, retirees (and more) banded together and stood united in purpose and cause. We stopped an abhorrently expensive, 6-year tussle, dead in its tracks. History has been made.

I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all that helped us fight the ACP. The letters you penned, the petitions you signed, the donations you gave, the protests you attended, helped us get to this place in time. I want to thank all the groups that backed us, stood beside us, joined forces with us, and told folks about us. Most of all, I’d like to thank our Staff and Board – current and past – for their relentless wellspring of dedication keeping the forests, ecosystems, wildlife, and our waters safe. An organization is only as good as its people and you all are top-notch.

I was taught to try to see the silver lining in a struggle. Four years ago, I would have been hard-pressed to unearth one, but now I see it. I watched people from all walks of life – socioeconomic, profession, race, color, creed, age, political choice – come together to stand up against something they viewed as wrong. We all joined together, regardless of our motives, and created a powerful opposition. We all had one goal. And we never gave up. 

David took on Goliath. They said maybe it could be done. And now it has been done.

So onward …  fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline. There is more history to be made.